Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

   
   From title, Space Opera, to tagline, “in space everyone can hear you sing”, to text, “life is beautiful and life is stupid”, this book sweats wit and cheekiness.  Yes, this monotone can be tiresome.  A lot of excessive metaphors stud these pages.  You know the kind of bonkers exaggerations that proliferate on the web, like the penny fell down a well deep as a Zen master’s koan, tossed to and fro in Schrödinger’s Box, then hit Mount Rushmore? It’s not muscular Hemmingway prose or orthodox Strunk n’ White.  You may find your thought stream inserting pauses where it needs them.  This makes for a herky-jerky reading experience.  The plot compels me to dash ahead – what hope do the Earthlings have of outperforming the galactic council? – but the verbal gymnastics stay my eyes.       
   Author Catherynne M. Valente is channeling Hitchhiker’s Guide to the GalaxyI get that loud and clear.  Expansive intergalactic vision, check.  A plethora of wacky n’ psychedelic aliens, check.  Helpless human protagonist, check.  Her unique contribution appears to be the Big Musical Numbers.  Inspired by the Eurovision, a massive song contest Europe stages every year to somehow prevent war, she imagines a dozen or so alien races which sing their hearts out rather than sling nuclear arms.  I shouldn’t assume, of course, that all sentient species have hearts or the ability to sling WMD’s.  Her aliens are a bunch of oddballs, covered in eyelashes or sporting hippo-dragon heads.  Won’t describe ‘em too well because half the reading experience involves discovery.  Good luck keeping all them apart, though.  Their psychedelic names run together.  I give this book five ACME designed Chest-Bursters and a cat's paw.

Read-Alike:

Magic for Beginners  by Kelly Link - unique and literary science fiction

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