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Space Opera
Cover of Space Opera
Space Opera
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy meets the joy and glamour of Eurovision in bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente's science fiction spectacle, where sentient races compete for glory in a galactic musical contest...and 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 space-faring life. In the aftermath, a curious tradition was invented—something to cheer up everyone who was left and bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, and understanding.

Once every cycle, the great galactic civilizations gather for the Metagalactic Grand Prix—part gladiatorial contest, part beauty pageant, part concert extravaganza, and part continuation of the wars of the past. Species far and wide compete in feats of song, dance and/or whatever facsimile of these can be performed by various creatures who may or may not possess, in the traditional sense, feet, mouths, larynxes, or faces. And if a new species should wish to be counted among the high and the mighty, if a new planet has produced some savage group of animals, machines, or algae that claim to be, against all odds, sentient? Well, then they will have to compete. And if they fail? Sudden extermination for their entire species.

This year, though, humankind has discovered the enormous universe. And while they expected to discover a grand drama of diplomacy, gunships, wormholes, and stoic councils of aliens, they have instead found glitter, lipstick, and electric guitars. Mankind will not get to fight for its destiny—they must sing.

Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes have been chosen to represent their planet on the greatest stage in the galaxy. And the fate of Earth lies in their ability to rock.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy meets the joy and glamour of Eurovision in bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente's science fiction spectacle, where sentient races compete for glory in a galactic musical contest...and 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 space-faring life. In the aftermath, a curious tradition was invented—something to cheer up everyone who was left and bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, and understanding.

Once every cycle, the great galactic civilizations gather for the Metagalactic Grand Prix—part gladiatorial contest, part beauty pageant, part concert extravaganza, and part continuation of the wars of the past. Species far and wide compete in feats of song, dance and/or whatever facsimile of these can be performed by various creatures who may or may not possess, in the traditional sense, feet, mouths, larynxes, or faces. And if a new species should wish to be counted among the high and the mighty, if a new planet has produced some savage group of animals, machines, or algae that claim to be, against all odds, sentient? Well, then they will have to compete. And if they fail? Sudden extermination for their entire species.

This year, though, humankind has discovered the enormous universe. And while they expected to discover a grand drama of diplomacy, gunships, wormholes, and stoic councils of aliens, they have instead found glitter, lipstick, and electric guitars. Mankind will not get to fight for its destiny—they must sing.

Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes have been chosen to represent their planet on the greatest stage in the galaxy. And the fate of Earth lies in their ability to rock.
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About the Author-
  • Catherynne M. Valente is the acclaimed author of The Glass Town Game, and a New York Times bestselling author of fantasy and science fiction novels, short stories, and poetry. She has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, and has won the Locus and Andre Norton award. She lives on a small island off the coast of Maine with her partner, two dogs, one enormous cat, a less enormous cat, six chickens, a red accordion, an uncompleted master's degree, a roomful of yarn, a spinning wheel with ulterior motives, a cupboard of jam and pickles, a bookshelf full of folktales, an industrial torch, and an Oxford English Dictionary. Visit her at CatherynneMValente.com.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 19, 2018
    Valente (Radiance) imagines Eurovision in space, with high and deadly stakes, in this frenetic, imaginative intergalactic extravaganza set many years after the brutal Sentience Wars roiled the galaxy. The hero is “leggy psychedelic ambidextrous omnisexual gendersplat glitterpunk financially punch-drunk ethnically ambitious glamrock messiah” Danesh Jalo, aka Decibel Jones (“Dess”) of the glam-rock trio Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeros. The band was huge for a feverish minute, but is long defunct: Mira Wonderful Star was killed in a car crash, and Oort St. Ultraviolet is now a session musician with an ex-wife and two kids. Dess, awash in faded glitter and despair, pines for the double-platinum days, so when a “seven-foot-tall ultramarine half-flamingo, half-anglerfish thing” appears and explains that he must compete in the Metagalactic Grand Prix for the future of his species, he jumps at the opportunity. They don’t have to win, but if they come in last, humankind is toast. Can Dess and Oort, with help from a fast-talking red panda named Öö, save the day? Valente’s effervescent prose is wildly creative and often funny, but frequent tangents can make for chaotic reading. Her many fans will be enthralled with this endearing, razzle-dazzle love song about destiny, finding one’s true voice, and rockin’ the house down. Agent: Howard Morhaim, Howard Morhaim Literary.

  • Library Journal

    April 15, 2018

    The Sentience Wars ended a century ago, but the not-so-subtle combative spirit of the conflict lives on in the Metagalactic Grand Prix, a universe-wide talent contest in which entries compete for not only the glory but their own survival as a species. Sentience is proven by performance, and when humans reach out to the galaxies, they discover that the grim aliens they expect are actually brightly painted performers attending Eurovision on steroids. Earth's population soon finds itself in the crosshairs of a group that takes glitter and glam to the extreme--and to the death. Not-so-sensational Britpop star Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeros are tasked to represent Earth and hopefully take the title of the greatest band in the universe. That is, if they don't self-destruct before the lights go up. VERDICT Valente's (Radiance) action-packed saga brings life to the backstage drama of the best concert you ever attended, in outer space. An exciting read for fans of Douglas Adams and David Bowie.--Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    May 1, 2018
    This nearly literal title about an intergalactic battle of the bands is perhaps operatic in scope (in a comic vein, at least) but is more rock than opera.After a devastating interstellar war in which various alien species fought for the right to be considered sentient by all the other species, peace was declared, and everyone agreed on the best way to determine sentience: a song contest. Only if a species was judged capable of baring its inner soul musically--that is, if a jury ranked it second-to-last or higher in the Megalactic Grand Prix--would it be permitted to continue existing. Now it's Earth's turn to prove its sentience, with a band personally selected by the galactic alliance known as the Great Octave. Unfortunately, just about everyone on their shortlist is dead--except for the two surviving members of washed-up glam rock band Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeros. Can Decibel Jones and Oort St. Ultraviolet reconcile their differences, survive the plots of their murderously competitive rivals, and manage to sufficiently wow their judges to ensure the survival of humanity? Tune in for your life! Valente's (The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home, 2016, etc.) acknowledgements admit she was inspired by the Eurovision Song Contest, David Bowie, and Douglas Adams (many plot elements, the prose style, and the occasionally violent but determined whimsy of it all practically reach peak Adams saturation). The storyline is also strongly reminiscent of an episode from the bleakly comic Adult Swim cartoon Rick and Morty, which featured a similar contest and stakes--perhaps infused with a dash of Daniel Pinkwater's Slaves of Spiegel, about an intergalactic cooking competition.Light on plot and originality but a charming amusement all the same.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    July 1, 2018

    Decibel Jones is shocked to wake up from his hangover and look into the big, beautiful eyes of a very large, blue, flamingolike creature (an Esca) and to realize he is not hallucinating. Instead, Jones learns that he and his defunct band, the Absolute Zeros, have been selected to represent Earth and perform in the Metagalactic Grand Prix music contest. They will either save Earth, enabling humanity's membership as a sentient species in the galaxy, or doom the planet to annihilation. It's a lot to take in, but Jones does his best. He locates his estranged, former instrumentalist, Oort St. Ultraviolet, and the two unwillingly sally forth with the Esca to save the world. On the way, readers are treated to a fascinating and hilarious galaxywide tour of prior Grand Prix winners, losers, and runner-up civilizations. Teens will eat up this hysterically funny, clever wordfest, written in the vein of Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, complete with ultra snarky narrator and galactic-weary ennui, with a bit of the fatalistic vibe of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens. Alert readers will catch amusing and appropriate classic and contemporary sci-fi and pop culture references. VERDICT Get this tale of intergalactic musical derring-do for your space and snark fanatics.-Gretchen Crowley, formerly at Alexandria City Public Libraries, VA

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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