Many authors try comedy in science fiction, but few achieve it. Along with very funny works like John Scalzi Redshirts and Terry Pratchett all Discworld series, the pinnacle of hilarious science fiction is Douglas Adams Guide to the Galactic Hitchhiker, about the misadventures of Arthur Dent while traveling the universe. But the new novel by Catherynne M. Valente Space Opera could take a look for your money, because it's one of the funniest books I've read in my life.
The title of Space Opera is a play on words. Valente recently said that the story came out of a challenge on Twitter after a conversation about Eurovision, and the novel lovingly catches old science fiction tropes, driving home humor with each sentence. In Space Opera humanity lives happily unaware of extraterrestrial life, until extraterrestrials appear inviting them to an advanced intergalactic civilization. But there is a catch: humans have to demonstrate their sensitivity in a talent show called MegaGalactic Grand Prize, instituted after a galaxy conflict known as The Sentience Wars. If the Earth finally arrives dead, humanity will be eliminated, and the biosphere will be re-planted so that the planet can try again later.
The alien envoy, a creature similar to a bird with an unpronounceable name that goes by Esca, suggests some possible human contenders, including Yoko Ono; the Spice Girls; Skrillex; Kraftwerk; and the fictional singer Brian Slade from the movie Velvet Goldmine . But, ultimately, the honor goes to a defunct glam rock band called Decibel Jones and Absolute Zeros, who scored a single album called Spacetrumpet in the mid-2000s. Decibel (real name Danesh Jalo ) and his bandmate Omar Çalışkan (also known as Oort St. Ultraviolet) have been estranged for years, following the death of their third bandmate, Mira Wonderful Star. But they gather to save the planet, working through their insecurities while shooting to compete in the Grand Prix.
Valente has forged a career in deconstructing fantasy and science fiction tropes in books such as The Refrigerator Monologues and The girl who circumnavigated the land of fairies on a ship of her own creation. Here, he suggests that ridiculous ideas such as a Space Eurovision are not intrinsically more absurd than "realistic" science fiction conventions such as hyperspace units or genocidal robots. (Actually, extraterrestrials explain it, it is more practical to resolve disputes with a talent show than with an intergalactic war.) When Douglas Adams projected the comical incompetence of impersonal bureaucracies in outer space, Valente introduces whimsical quirks like a bear multidimensional panda called Quantum. Tufted domesticated Wormhole, which is the only feasible means of interstellar travel.
. But the true point of sale is Valente's elaborate prose, dense with description and metaphors. I have bounced this style in some of his books, but here it works wonderfully, with prayers like:
"There was once on a small, watery and excitable planet called Earth, in a small, aquatic and excitable country called Italy, a gentleman soft voice, quite attractive with the name of Enrico Fermi, was born in such an overprotective family that he felt compelled to invent the atomic bomb. "
The style takes a while to get used to, but once you get the rhythm of your writing, everything fits in its place. Each of Valente's sentences could be a complete story, and I found myself absorbed in each of them, visualizing his chaotic, strange and delicious universe. This beautiful writing adds to the humor as it recounts incredible and incredible battles in parametric breathless sentences as complicated as the conflicts they are describing, or the Surrealist Grand Prix bands:
"Being a group intelligence composed of pink algae genetically fused with spores of the nanocomputation, the Sziv never formed rock bands per se They sent the same supergroup to the Grand Prix every year, about 60 percent of their species, they opted for ingenious vases and they just called us in. They sang with pheromones, a crescendo of infectious hormones that maddened the mating instincts of all species in the Dirty Ruuutu Flophouse and Grill: a vast, bright, avant-garde performance area with capacity for more than a hundred thousand people, even the slightest whisper. techno-erotic laser light of the soul, moment in which We leave their vases in a Wave pink undulating, we turn in a very high spiral of velvety life, and we sing an old folkloric ballad of Sziv called & # 39; Love & # 39; It's easy when you're a hive mind, along with a pounding, ramming, subwoofer tapping, scattering in the strong weather, hitting your magenta needle back in the upbeat rhythm, and taking the house down. "
Yes, the intergalactic talent show that determines the fate of entire worlds takes place at a place called Dirty Ruuutu Flophouse and Grill.
I enjoyed every minute I spent reading Space Opera – first for the story of Decibel Jones and the absolute zeros and his performance to save the Earth, and then the fantastic worlds that Valente put on paper.