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Space Opera - The Audio Book
by Catherynne M. Valente, read by Heath Miller
A Tor Book/Highbridge Audio, $34.99, 9 hrs 45 mins
Released: April 2018

Howlingly funny, this Eurovision in Space tale is of a has-been glam rock star named Decibel Jones becoming humanity’s only chance for surviving First Contact and being accepted into the galactic social scene. Galactic war nearly extinguished every light of sentient life in the universe, and the only way all the space-faring beings can get over the stresses of interstellar trade and land grabs is to have galactic concert contests. And every time a new species capable of traveling beyond their planetary atmosphere are discovered, they have to prove their sentience and showmanship by not placing dead last, because that ‘dead last’ gets taken completely literally. (The titles of some of the winning song entries is reason #116 to read/listen to this book.)

Valente’s style is incisive, snarky, insightful, and heartfelt. There are sentences that could spark entire PhD theses, or lead to spiritual epiphanies, between the belly laughs. I got to hear her read aloud at Confluence, and it was amazing.  This audio book is read by Heath Miller, and no matter how good your inner voice is, his is probably much, much better. Unless you’re Benedict Cumberbatch or Tom Hiddleston. And this is definitely a story to listen to, so catch Catherynne Valente at a con if you can, and add this audiobook to your list of Must Hear. 

And according to tor.com,  Space Opera has already been optioned by Universal Pictures!

Space Opera is the funniest thing to come along in years. But it also bears saying that Space Opera does what SF does best, better than any genre no matter how hard they try, which is to take inclusiveness in stride and show, by not making a big deal of it, that it works, thank you very much and let’s please move on, shall we? Even if some of the minor characters in the book cannot see past relative levels of pigmentation and school ties, the protagonists are so beyond all that that they can direct their energies, attention, and creativity to more interesting outcomes than put-downs. A lifestyle of glitter makeup, pop music and psychotropics may understandably not be your lifestyle of choice, but the infectious good will and insouciance of Decibel Jones is what makes his music so magic, so frigging redemptive of humanity. If any space aliens out there are listening to our broadcasts, please choose our SF over our fake news.  – Chris Wozney

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