Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Space Opera (Space Opera #1)” as Want to Read:
Space Opera (Space Opera #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Space Opera

(Space Opera #1)

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  7,468 ratings  ·  1,964 reviews
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets Eurovision in an over-the-top science fiction spectacle from bestselling author Catherynne Valente has galaxies competing for glory in a universe-wide musical contest—where the stakes are as high as the fate of planet Earth.

A century ago, the Sentience Wars tore the galaxy apart and nearly ended the entire concept of intelligent s
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published April 10th 2018 by Gallery / Saga Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Space Opera, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Abigail Pankau All of the chapters end with complete sentences. Many of them are short though (e.g. Chapter 5 ends "He wept into his single pint." and Chapter 7 ends…moreAll of the chapters end with complete sentences. Many of them are short though (e.g. Chapter 5 ends "He wept into his single pint." and Chapter 7 ends "Point to Dani."), which is a contrast to the extremely long run-on sentences in most of the rest of the text.(less)
Dana This book is not YA. It's adult. There is "adult" language and references to drugs, murder and sex.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,468 ratings  ·  1,964 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
2.5 stars. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature (along with my co-reviewer Jana's review). It took me nearly two months to read this Eurovision in space/Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy mashup, start to finish. My journey began with Anticipation, shifted to Befuddlement and Boredom, passed through Dismay, flirted with DNF, picked up again a few weeks later with Resolution, and ended with an overdose of Whimsy and Zaniness.

Oort St. Ultraviolet and his old bandmate Decibel Jones, the two rema
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Space Opera is Eurovision in space! The fate of the world rests on the shoulders of the washed up lead singer of a band notorious for inventing "the entire electro-funk glamgrind genre."

With puns, pop-culture references, and some unapologetic observations about the human race, Valente escorts readers through the cosmos to the glittering, psychedelic, bizarre Metagalactic Grand Prix where alien races compe
May 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In the setup for Catherynne M. Valente’s new “Eurovision in space” novel Space Opera, a has-been, burned-out, Bowie-wannabe rock star called Decibel Jones is inexplicably chosen to sing in an intergalactic competition for humanity’s right to exist. Unfortunately, after the amusingly gonzo kickoff, the subsequent two-thirds of the book is the most epic filler of all time – a plotless pile of twisty-worded tangents about everything on Earth the author can think of, packed with in-jokes and puns an ...more
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Douglas Adams fans after a 20 shot cafe mocha
If I were to give this book a one word review, it would be:


This book, in my opinion tries WAY too hard. What it tries way too hard to do, I am not quite sure, but I was starting to get a headache trying to keep up with all the stuff it was throwing my way. It seemed like every sentence had to have a punchline. Every description came with a built in footnote story. It was delivered under what seemed like the influence of 1000 energy drinks. The fact that the content was so out there an
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Life is beautiful. And life is stupid.

Once upon a time on a small, watery, exciteable planet called Earth ... we find out that we are indeed not alone in the universe. On the contrary. The universe is teeming with all kinds of life (including the most improbable forms of FTL transportation) and after a horrible intergalactic war, every sentient species has agreed on a form of contest with which to entertain but also combat one another. And it is a way of discerning if a species is sentient or
Life is beautiful. Life is stupid.

This book was all kinds of freaking wonderful, packed to the gills with glam and snark and a buttload of heart-wrenching brutal honesty wrapped up with a bow of sex, aliens, and rock and roll.

A lot of people are equating this with Hitchhiker's Guide, but in a lot of ways, it's better. And worse. The sheer amount of delightful rock-and-roll trivia and snark made me think of Rob Reid's Year Zero, but this was better. Think about all the aging Glam Rock stars who h
DNF at 52%

I tried this book on audio and physical copy, and although I wasn’t hating it, I found I wasn’t caring either. The tangents away from the plot and characters onto stories of aliens I will never remember, and glazed over during, felt like a sign that I should set this aside. This book seems to focus more on the writing, jokes, and over the top world than the characters or plot.

This is magical and odd in a way only Valente can do. But after having read a few of her books, I don’t think
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, one time I bought a bottle of Miracle-Gro for my houseplants. I used it once or twice and then stuck it in the back of a cupboard and forgot about it.
Years later, when I was moving house, I cleared out the cupboard and found the bottle, which had leaked somehow and the Miracle-Gro had actually *made the bottle itself grow*! There were all these baroque sort of globules growing fractally off the side of it. It was magical and also a bit disturbing.
This book reminded me of my miraculous Mira
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Humorous writing is not for everyone; senses of humor just tend to be too different and/or incompatible. This one hits my sense of humor square on: absurdist, wry and with a core of profundity that works very well with the lush writing that the author has on display elsewhere.

After the Sentience Wars interstellar civilization has implemented the Metagalactic Grand Prix song contest which all prospective sentient species must compete in and not come last. A new species that comes last is deemed t
2ish stars.

Funny in the way Mad Libs is funny. Random, nonsensical, fill-in-the-blank humor that is occasionally amusing because it's bound to be at some point by sheer volume of silliness. Valente is obviously pleased with herself, which draws another comparison to Mad Libs. It’s apparently much funnier to the person actually filling in the blanks with erratic strings of adjectives, adverbs, and made-up words than to the ones reading it.
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This book is what comes from combining refined sugar, cocaine, and a word processor. The comma to period ratio was about 100:1. They were frenzied, rabid sentences.

Never in this life would I have thought I’d be complaining about the writing from the author of The Refrigerator Monologues.

As far as the subject matter, if you liked The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet you’ll like this: hard agenda covered in soft confectionary science fiction.

DNF 41%
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, stars-3-5

When I heard that Valente was creating a ‘Eurovision Song Contest’ in space with alien civilisations battling by song, I was totally sold, especially since I’d wanted to read something of hers for ages. The problem you see is that the author had to write it in a humouristic, tongue-in-cheek, tone and I don’t do well with that style. I still read it, enjoyed it to a certain extent, smiled a few times, recognised the writing skill, but never truly connected with the story or characters - and t
Charlie Anders
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another book that I blurbed, so I'm just expanding on what I already said. This book is SO MUCH FUN. The bountiful silliness, and the space setting, will automatically inspire comparisons to Douglas Adams --- but this is really something different and outrageous, all its own. I found the story of a washed up pop group trying to save the world quite moving and sweet, and just lovely.
While I love Catherynne M. Valente's sentences for their cleverness, biting humour and commentary, I find that my reaction to her work really depends on whether I'm listening to it or reading it. I tend to struggle with her long and convoluted senteneces when I read her text, but just adore her work when I listen to it as I really like her wordplay.
I was concerned reading reviews for this book as people kept making glowing comments and references to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. (Even t
Sad to say this attempt to become Douglas Adams went awry. It's just not funny enough to make up for its lack of character and story. The "plot" is just too small to hang the book on, so it's been filled with digressions as exposition, trying desperately to be funny though absurdist non-sequiters. (Certainly the Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy, to which the promotional material boldly refers, had its share of such digressions & the absurd, but Adams attached those to a storyline (farcical, ...more
Life is beautiful and life is stupid. As long as you keep that in mind, and never give more weight to one than the other, the history of the galaxy, the history of a planet, the history of a person is a simple tune with lyrics flashed on-screen and a helpful, friendly bouncing disco ball of glittering, occasionally peaceful light to help you follow along.
Cue the music. Cue the dancers.
Cue tomorrow
I have alot of reasons to not to like this book. It took me over a month to finish it, it had
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like being at the best cocktail party--EVER!

So funny, clever, over-the-top, philosophical Eurovision/Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that had hints of This is Spinal Tap and cameos by:

How you ask. Simple. After nearly annihilating the universe, the varying factions created the Grand Prix, a so
Apr 14, 2018 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2018, hugo, ppb
As much as I love Valente, I just can’t handle this book. So over the top and so not my thing. I did hate The Hitchhiker’s Guide, so I should have known...
If you are a mostly adult SFF + YA reader like me, it doesn't matter which books you've read - this will be one of the weirdest you've ever found. It's Eurovision in space, against aliens, and if the humans lose, they will be exterminated.

This is the kind of book that doesn't make sense, but it also does. It's so over-the-top it's almost exhausting, it's comedy, it's so alien - but it's also a very human, very serious book. Its main themes are what it means to be human, whether human life is red
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

The first line of the description for Space Opera likens it to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I think it’s an apt comparison because the influence of Douglas Adams clearly shows (and the author even acknowledges it). This is the kind of book that will make you simultaneously laugh and shake your head in amazement wondering how anyone could have come up with such crazy ideas. Considering how my first experience
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, wow. What a book!

This was such a wonderful, wild ride. Valente's writing is gorgeous, per usual.

The middle portion of this dragged a bit for me, but I also think this is the kind of book where I'll pick it up to reread those passages that I initially thought of as boring. EVERYTHING in this book feel inventive and fun and silly and gravely serious all at the same time.

We flip between two stories, so to speak. One is the story of Decibal Jones and the Absolute Zeros, who have been selected
Jun 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hitchhikers, Glam Rockers, Tentacled alien partiers
I am a big fan of Catherynne Valente, but she's one of those writers with a very distinctive style that does not always hit the right notes for me. To use what is possibly the most unlikely equivalence of all, I will compare her to Cormac McCarthy — sometimes his long, run-on punctuationless walls of text evoke the natural world and the brutality of humankind in an incomparable, breathtaking fashion, and sometimes you just want to throw one of his books at the wall and say "Learn what a comma is ...more
Catherynne M. Valente is an incredible prose stylist. Exceedingly verbose, deliriously lyrical; she whips up the craziest, most beautiful images with her long-winded sentences. Reading her feels like drinking a strange and unusual cocktail, and you have to be ready to get dizzy when you crack her books open: it’s all part of the fun. But it is not for everyone… The synopsis of “Eurovision in space meets Douglas Adams with a David Bowie-like protagonist” was not something I could have resisted fr ...more
'How else are you supposed to deal with people who like terrible things? Hit them with a shovel till they stop, that's how. That should be the thirtieth Unkillable Fact, I tell you what.'


Space Opera is definitely the most bizarre and batshit crazy book I've ever read and I loved every minute of it. Humor combined with social commentary (the objective of which is to way more than just roast but I love that it does roast) combined with all the flaws and a li
Rachel (rachandbooks)
"Life is beautiful and life is stupid."

Ohhhhh Cat Valente, how I adore your writing. This is the fourth book by her I've read and I've adored ALL of them. I understand that she writes niche things, but I love it. Who would have thought that a book about Eurovision in space would become a favorite of mine? Well, I didn't, but because Valente was writing it, I had a hunch I would admire it.

Space Opera begins on little planet Earth, where the people inhabiting it find out that there is life outside
Peter Tillman
Apr 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: at-bg-pa
With 916 reviews here already, I will be brief. As always, read the head-blurb first. The reviews are, well, mixed. I’m in the middle.

It’s a *very unusual* first-contact story, well-done, imaginative…. It really is SF. It held my attention until the last few chapters, when the silliness and jungle-rules of the Grand Prix du Galaxie got to be too much. Non-spoller alert: the book ends well, with sweetness & light and even less credibility.

I *loved * Capo the cat, who got a partial Uplift in
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Not an objective rating - this was just so very much fun and somehow tailored to my exact personal tastes. Recommended if you love Eurovision, recommended if you just love lushly written, hilarious, intense stories.
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Does what it says on the tin.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach
  • Lightspeed Magazine, June 2014: Women Destroy Science Fiction! Special Issue
  • O Human Star, Volume One
  • Revenant Gun (The Machineries of Empire, #3)
  • Alice Payne Arrives (Alice Payne, #1)
  • Barbary Station (Shieldrunner Pirates, #1)
  • The Light Brigade
  • The Tea Master and the Detective (The Universe of Xuya)
  • Empress of Forever
  • Unconquerable Sun (The Sun Chronicles #1)
  • The Tiger Flu
  • Terminal Alliance (Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse, #1)
  • Concrete Park Volume 1
  • A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan, #1)
  • The Prey of Gods
  • Famous Men Who Never Lived
  • The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut, #1)
  • Necessity (Thessaly, #3)
See similar books…
Catherynne M. Valente was born on Cinco de Mayo, 1979 in Seattle, WA, but grew up in in the wheatgrass paradise of Northern California. She graduated from high school at age 15, going on to UC San Diego and Edinburgh University, receiving her B.A. in Classics with an emphasis in Ancient Greek Linguistics. She then drifted away from her M.A. program and into a long residence in the concrete and cam ...more

Other books in the series

Space Opera (2 books)
  • Space Oddity
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Life is beautiful and life is stupid. This is, in fact, widely regarded as a universal rule not less inviolable than the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the Uncertainty Principle, and No Post on Sundays. As long as you keep that in mind, and never give more weight to one than the other, the history of the galaxy is a simple tune with lyrics flashed on-screen and a helpful, friendly bouncing disco ball of all-annihilating flames to help you follow along.” 33 likes
“No matter how mad, bad, and dangerous to know a civilization gets, unto every generation are born the lonely and the uncool, destined to forever stare into the candy-store window of their culture, and loneliness is the mother of ascension. Only the uncool have the requisite alone time to advance their species.” 20 likes
More quotes…