Space Opera is the funniest science fiction novel I’ve read since Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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Space Opera is the funniest science fiction novel I’ve read since Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Many authors attempt comedy in science fiction, but few pull it off. Alongside very funny works like John Scalzi’s Redshirtsand Terry Pratchett’s entire Discworld series, the pinnacle of hilarious science fiction is Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, about the misadventures of Arthur Dent as he travels across the universe. But Catherynne M. Valente’s new novel Space Opera might give it a run for its money, because it’s one of the funniest books that I’ve ever read.

Valente has forged a career by deconstructing fantasy and science fiction tropes in books like The Refrigerator Monologues and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Here, she suggests that ridiculous-sounding ideas like a Space Eurovision aren’t inherently more absurd than ‘realistic’ sci-fi conventions like hyperspace drives or genocidal robots. (Actually, the aliens explain, it’s more practical to settle disputes with a talent show than an intergalactic war.) Where Douglas Adams projected the comedic incompetence of impersonal bureaucracies into outer space, Valente introduces whimsical weirdness like a multidimensional panda bear called a Quantum-Tufted Domesticated Wormhole, which is the only feasible means of interstellar travel.

But the real selling point is Valente’s elaborate prose, dense with description and metaphors. I’ve bounced off this style in some of her books, but here it works beautifully, with sentences like:

‘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.’

‘Being a group intelligence comprised of hot pink algae genetically fused with nanocomputational spores, the Sziv never formed rock bands per se. They sent the same supergroup to the Grand Prix every year, some 60 percent of their species, decanted into artful vases and simply called Us. They sang by pheromone, a crescendo of infection hormones that maddened the mating instincts of every species in the Dirty Ruuutu Flophouse and Grill ‘ a vast, glittering, state-of-the-art performance area seating over one hundred thousand ‘ until the slightest whisper sounded like a techno-erotic laser light show of the soul, at which point Us spilled out of their vases in an undulating rosy wave, spun up in to a towering spiral of velvet sparkling life, and sang an ancient Sziv folk ballad called ‘Love Is Easy When You’re A Hive Mind’ coupled with a thumping, thrusting, subwoofer-slaughtering beat, dispersing on the downbeat, slamming back into their magenta spire on the upbeat, and bringing the house all the way down.’

  • Author: Many authors attempt comedy in science fiction, but few pull it off. Alongside very funny works like John Scalzi’s Redshirtsand Terry Pratchett’s entire Discworld series, the pinnacle of hilarious science fiction is Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, about the misadventures of Arthur Dent as he travels across the universe. But Catherynne M. Valente’s new novel Space Opera might give it a run for its money, because it’s one of…
  • Citation: Web link

‘The Expanse’ Is Lapping Its Science Fiction Competition

The third season of The Expanse, Syfy’s ambitious space opera, begins on Venus. It picks up right where Season 2 left off, in the aftermath of a humanity-altering, semi-supernatural event in which a research ship is immaculately disassembled and its crew is left suspended in midair after making contact with a mysterious biological substance. The action then pans to Earth, where there’s discourse over whether recent actions by Martians (that is, humans who colonized and live on Mars) are a prelude to war. Out on Mars at the same time, similar paranoiac conversations are ongoing about ‘Earthers.’ Finally, we see that Earth and Martian ships are also duking it out over Jupiter. Just like that, interplanetary war has begun.

The opening is a massive, solar-system-wide tour of The Expanse played out in miniature’and quite simply, it’s awesome to watch. In just two seasons’Season 3 premieres on Wednesday night’the show has quickly become one of the most compelling small-screen sci-fi shows in the past decade.

But that’s not for a lack of competition. In the past 12 months, there’s been a boom in science fiction: the debuts of Altered Carbon, Counterpart, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, and Star Trek: Discovery; new seasons of Black Mirror and Stranger Things; and in the next couple of weeks, Netflix’s rebooted Lost in Space and the second season of HBO’s Westworld premiere. That’s an overwhelming amount of mostly good science fiction. But hear me out: The Expanse is better than all of these shows. Need proof? Thomas Jane is in it and he has the most hideous haircut I’ve ever seen.

Need more proof than that? Fine. Here are five other ways that The Expanse excels over the rest of science-fiction television.

It also helps that The Expanse, like Thrones, begins small before widening its scope. While mankind has been split up into three factions’those living on Earth, those on Mars, and folks around the asteroid belt who are known as Belters’200 years in the future, the action initially keys in on only two things: (1) a ragtag group of survivors from the Canterbury, an ice freighter that is blown up after answering a mysterious distress call, and (2) a Belter detective (Thomas Jane and the beguiling haircut) who’s attempting to solve a missing persons case that’s somehow connected to the explosion.

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  • Publisher: The Ringer
  • Date: 2018-04-11T06:00:02-04:00
  • Author: Miles Surrey
  • Twitter: ringer
  • Citation: Web link

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Space Opera is the funniest science fiction novel I’ve read since Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Apr 14th, 2018 07:00 UTC Valente has forged a career by deconstructing fantasy and science fiction tropes in books like The Refrigerator Monologues . I enjoyed every minute I spent reading Space Opera ‘ first for the story of Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeros and their

Something additional to look at:

‘The Expanse’ Is Lapping Its Science Fiction Competition
(Apr 2018) The third season of The Expanse, Syfy’s ambitious space opera, begins on Venus. It picks up right where Season 2 left off, in the aftermath of a humanity-altering, semi-supernatural event in which a research ship is immaculately disassembled and its crew

All the New Science Fiction Books Coming Out in April
(Apr 2018) The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Vol . or sacrifice them all for the truth about his wife? Space Opera’Catherynne M. Valente (April 10, Saga Press) A century ago, the Sentience Wars tore the galaxy apart and nearly ended the entire concept

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