Sunday, September 16, 2018

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

Rating: ★★★★ | Release Date: 08/20/18 | Science Fiction | 9 hours 45 minutes | Saga Press
The aliens have arrived--- and in order for humanity to prove itself as a sentient species worthy of being welcomed into the greater galaxy, they must compete in an intergalactic singing competition.

Luckily, Earth’s been given a leg up as the welcome committee has already chosen the musical group most likely to place; The long defunct and estranged glitterpunk glamrock band Decibel Jones and The Absolute Zeroes. Now, Decibel Jones (aka Danesh Jalo) and Oort St. Ultraviolet (aka Omar Caliskan ) two middle-aged, washed up former rockstars have to get the band back together, travel across the universe and give a performance that will prevent the total annihilation of all of humanity.


I think the only reason I picked this up is that the cover kept catching my eye. In the back of the book, Valente notes this book was heavily inspired by  Eurovision and Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (two things I know very little about)which made this book feel totally original and fun for me.

I struggled a little because  I had a hard time keeping up with all the alien species. These aliens aren’t little green men in suits; they come in a variety of forms including murderous war hippos, impressionist blue flamingos, sentient computer code and time raveling red pandas. It was all so fascinating and creative but it was a lot to keep track of.

The audiobook narrator for this book, Heath Miller, does an absolutely phenomenal job and I think the audio is essential for this book. Particularly because Miller and Valente are longtime creative partners and they’ve likely collaborated on how the delivery should go and how all the characters sound. There is also just a lot of walls of text that are daunting to the eye but sound so good with Miller’s rhythmic narration. Miller is also just an amazing performer. Everyone in this book is British and I was shocked to discover Miller was Australian. I would say he needs to do ALL the books but he seems to mostly narrate Valente's work and he is slaying.

This book is from Saga Press, Simon and Schuster's inclusive sci-fi imprint and you know what? I appreciated the inclusivity. There are tons of liberal dog whistles in here and Valente doesn’t let it go unnoticed that our heroes come from immigrant backgrounds.

Space Opera is the totally bizarre must-listen audiobook with cheeky, sci-fi fun you can dance to.

Saga Press also re-published and repackaged The Curse Workers series by Holly Black so they are A+ in my book.

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