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Space Opera

von Catherynne M. Valente

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7895221,490 (3.54)47
"Mankind will not get to fight for its destiny. They must sing. 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 by the remnants of civilization. Something to cheer up everyone who was left. Something to celebrate having escaped total annihilation by the skin of one's teeth, if indeed one has skin. Or teeth. Something to bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, understanding, and the most powerful of all social bonds: excluding others. Once every cycle, the great galactic civilizations gather for Galactivision--part gladiatorial contest, part beauty pageant, part concert extravaganza, and part, a very large, but very subtle part, continuation of the wars of the past. Thus, a fragile peace has held. This year, a bizarre and unsightly species has looked up from its muddy planet-bound cradle and noticed the enormous universe blaring on around it: humanity. Where they expected to one day reach out into space and discover a grand drama of diplomacy, gunships, wormholes, and stoic councils of grave aliens, they have found glitter. And lipstick. And pyrotechnics. And electric guitars. A band of human musicians, dancers, and roadies 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"--… (mehr)
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Loved this book. I feel like one can hear the elevator pitch of "intergalactic Eurovision" and know whether one will like this book or not. I found it hilarious (there were multiple times where I found myself literally laughing out loud), witty, and beautiful. It perfectly encapsulates its main thesis, that life is beautiful and life is stupid. Space Opera is a wild, weird ride, and I thought Heath Miller did an outstanding job narrating the audiobook. ( )
  coprime | Jul 12, 2021 |

"The world had gotten gritty enough. The only thing left to do in all that dirt was to shine."
Some time ago, I found the website everynoise.com, which collects all genres listed on a well-known music streaming service. It had genres like 'Italian Occult Psychedelia'. I shared it to my friends with the comment 'pseudo music hipsters like this page'. After reading this book, 'darkwave prog-grunge power ballads' are my new jam.

As soon as I realized 'Space Opera' was basically 'Eurovision in Space' I just HAD to read it, because Eurovision is one of my not-even-slightly-guilty pleasures.

"Life is beautiful and life is stupid."
This book is non-US-centric Science Fiction with two loveable and flawed main characters who just try their best every day, but don't always succeed, and who can't relate to that? Also, there's a great cat and some aliens.
It's also packed with observations about the society we live in, delivered in a humorous, sometimes ironic, sometimes witty, sometimes creative way that reminded me a lot of Douglas Adams' 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy', which I love dearly. It's very real, can be dark, but in the end there's always some kind of hope in it, and I needed that.
There's a lot of telling and explaining going on, which I usually don't like, but delivered in this style, I don't mind. It was the same with Hitchhiker for me.

But be aware that the writing in this is unconventional, and I suggest you read a reading sample or listen to the sample for the audiobook before you buy this. I totally get why this book isn't for everyone.

Sadly, I had to take a star off, because the plot was very predictable and didn't hold many surprises for me. Even in a book like this, plot matters.

...and a universally hated, pseudo-helpful fictional 'character' might have a guest appearance as well.

“You can't stop people being assholes. They do love it so. The best you can hope for is that some people, sometimes, will turn out to be somewhat less than the absolute worst. When they manage to trip and fall over that incredibly low bar, they'll make you want to end it all. But when they leap over it, they'll make you believe this whole mess really was created for a reason.” ( )
  booksandliquids | May 3, 2021 |
This is a comedic sci-fi book inspired by Douglas Adams's "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy." Its protagonist is "a leggy psychelic ambidextrous omnisexual gendersplat glitterpunch financially punch-drunk ethnically ambitious glamrock messiah by the name of Danesh Jalo." He and his former bandmate are forced to represent the human race in an intergalactic singing competition. And if they place last, humanity will be exterminated for not being sentient enough.

This book describes alien races with zany, imaginative humor. My favorite is the Voorpret, a zombie plague that is given full rights as a sentient species because their shambling corpses actually have a gentrifying effect on nearby planets.

The singing competition has the glamorous atmosphere of American Idol and Eurovision Song Contest. (Each chapter is named after a Eurovision song.) I enjoyed reading about how the competition came to be and how previous years' competitions (before humanity's entrance) went. But in one phase of the competition, the "semi-finals," it's legal for competitors to incapacitate or even murder each other. That just seems wrong and I wasn't a fan of it.

Some parts of the book read like a rock travelogue and others feature interesting discussions on what makes a species sentient. But, like the Hitchhiker sequels, this book has a tendency to add layer upon layer of wackiness at the expense of stronger characters and themes.

The audiobook narrator sounds like Eric Idle and enunciates with great clarity. He lends much personality to the diverse characters and even sings the occasional verse. But the prose is still hard to follow because of its long chains of adjectives and analogies. ( )
  KGLT | Nov 16, 2020 |
Nachdem ich die Inhaltsangabe zu Space Opera gelesen hatte, wollte ich (als großer ESC-Fan) das Buch unbedingt lesen. Obwohl die Geschichte genial und die Charaktere schrill sind, hat mich die Umsetzung ermüdet.

Catherynne M. Valente (ist das ein Künstlername? Ich sage nur Caterina Valente...) schreibt witzig, aber leider viel zu abschweifend. Die eigentliche Geschichte ist streng genommen nur wenige Seite lang, der Rest erzählt diverse andere Dinge - und leider wäre ich viel lieber bei der ESC-im-All-Story geblieben. Dazu kommen unfassbar lange Sätze, die teilweise über die Hälfte der Buchseite gehen. Ein-/zweimal ist das ja ok, aber ständig ist nervig. Dadurch habe ich auch schon recht schnell die Lust am Buch verloren. Lediglich die Tatsache, dass ich den ESC auch sehr mag, hat mich am Ball bleiben und das Buch beenden lassen. Das ist wirklich bedauerlich, da ich die schrägen Figuren und Ideen großartig fand. Aber die langen, abschweifenden Sätze haben mich einfach immer wieder den Faden verlieren lassen.

Fazit: Zu ausschweifend, zu viele zu lange Sätze - aber die Idee ist klasse! Für die große ESC-Liebe der Autorin gibt es einen Extra-Punkt und somit 3/5 Punkten. ( )
  Gesa-Marie | Aug 25, 2020 |
I liked the characters and the plot was interesting when it cared to show up, but this was a 100-120 page novella expanded to nearly 300 pages through unnecessary exposition. Every other chapter in the first 2/3 of the book was dedicated to the history of some alien or another and didn't further, or have anything to do with, the plot at all. Once I realized after slogging through a few of these chapters (some are 10 pages long!) that they in no way related to the current story, I ended up skipping them. Thankfully, the last 1/3 of the novel didn't have any of these extraneous chapters and just got on with the plot. I quite enjoyed it then. ( )
  LynnK. | Aug 4, 2020 |
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For Heath,
Intergalactic glamrock ambassador to Earth
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Once upon a time on a small, watery, excitable planet called Earth, in a small, watery, excitable country called Italy, a soft-spoken, rather nice-looking gentleman by the name of Enrico Fermi was born into a family so overprotective that he felt compelled to invent the atomic bomb.
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"Mankind will not get to fight for its destiny. They must sing. 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 by the remnants of civilization. Something to cheer up everyone who was left. Something to celebrate having escaped total annihilation by the skin of one's teeth, if indeed one has skin. Or teeth. Something to bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, understanding, and the most powerful of all social bonds: excluding others. Once every cycle, the great galactic civilizations gather for Galactivision--part gladiatorial contest, part beauty pageant, part concert extravaganza, and part, a very large, but very subtle part, continuation of the wars of the past. Thus, a fragile peace has held. This year, a bizarre and unsightly species has looked up from its muddy planet-bound cradle and noticed the enormous universe blaring on around it: humanity. Where they expected to one day reach out into space and discover a grand drama of diplomacy, gunships, wormholes, and stoic councils of grave aliens, they have found glitter. And lipstick. And pyrotechnics. And electric guitars. A band of human musicians, dancers, and roadies 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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Durchschnitt: (3.54)
0.5
1 7
1.5 2
2 23
2.5 11
3 49
3.5 18
4 41
4.5 8
5 48

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