26 June 2019

Hugos 2019: Space Opera by Catherynne Valente

Trade paperback, 294 pages
Published 2018

Acquired April 2019
Read May 2019
Space Opera by Catherynne Valente

I was really looking forward to this book: the premise of Eurovision in space seemed like exactly the kind of thing the often grim genre of sf could use more of. Well, if you want Eurovision in space, you don't get it until page 169 of 294, when the main characters finally get where they are going after page upon page of overwritten, unfunny, sub-Douglas Adams backstory. Valente dumps tons of galactic history on you, but the overly cute narrative voice it's told in quickly grates on the reader and it just becomes exhausting.

I also think it's weird that a woman who wrote a book criticizing the women-in-refrigerators trope wrote a book about two men, whose character motivations entirely spring from the dead (Manic Pixie Dream Girl) woman in their backstory.

What's here is just so thin, stretched out to novel length. I suspect this would have been a great short story, or a good novelette, or a solid novella, but instead it's an interminably mediocre novel. (Incidentally, there is already a Doctor Who story with the premise of Eurovision in space, the audio drama Bang-Bang-a-Boom! It's not great, but it is better than this.)

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