If the news is getting you down, lighten up with Catherynne Valente’s SPACE OPERA (2018).
Fermi’s paradox wonders why, if there are so many stars and planets out there–100,000,000 suns in the Milky Way alone–no aliens ever come to visit. Valente provides the answer in this light-hearted science fiction: Earth has been ignored by the galactic community because of the distraction of a multi-solar-system war.
By creating a proxy combat contest, in which each species competes every year by performing a single hit song, galaxy group-think has sublimated military ambition and destruction into musical madness. The only catch is, if an upstart civilization with dangerous potential for the rest of the races–in this case, humanity on Earth–finishes last, that species will be exterminated.
OK, pretty far-fetched, but Valente never wavers from the premise and makes us suspend disbelief. She uses a delectable mash-up of creative linguistics, mixing modern pop culture with wacko alien-speak to keep the reader hooked. The various galactic cultures–spindly, glass-legged birds, a virus that inhabits dead things only, a species of granite-beings, and a robot culture, to name but a few–provide numerous twists and turns.
To represent Earth, these aliens have chosen a decrepit rock band, a trio of a band well past its prime with only a handful of hits from Earth–Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes. With their female drummer deceased, the now-duo of a group must save humanity through a song they compose on the fly, and boy, do they screw things up. The ending is a bit “deus ex machina,” but it’s loads of fun getting there.
SPACE OPERA is one fun ride, a ride packed with creativity and word-play.
Review written by: Glenn Vanstrum
Pair It With:
Avation Cocktail: A classic cocktail made with gin and creme de violette. The fragrant base of the violet makes for a robust and sweet flavor creating the perfect cocktail.