cover image Space Opera

Space Opera

Catherynne M. Valente. Saga, $19.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-4814-9749-7

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. (Apr.)