Space Opera (Valente novel)

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First edition

Space Opera is a 2018 science fiction novel by Catherynne Valente, about a galactic version of the Eurovision Song Contest. It was first published by Saga Press.


In order to join galactic civilization — rather than be declared non-sentient, and subsequently eradicated — humanity must participate in the Metagalactic Grand Prix, an interspecies music contest. Winning is not necessary, as long as the participants are not ranked last. However, when the alien emissaries supply a list of suggested musicians, the only entry on the list to not be dead or otherwise physically incapable of performing is Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes, a washed-up, burnt-out glam rock trio with only two surviving members.


Space Opera was a finalist for the 2019 Hugo Award for Best Novel.[1] and for the 2019 Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.

Kirkus Reviews found it "charming", albeit "(l)ight on plot and originality", and drew parallels to Rick and Morty and the works of Daniel Pinkwater.[2] Publishers Weekly praised Valente's "effervescent prose (as) wildly creative and often funny", while conceding that the novel's "frequent tangents can make for chaotic reading."[3] In the Financial Times, James Lovegrove noted its "ripe satiric potential", but also its "somewhat meagre plot".[4] The Guardian called it an "over-the-top, absurdist extravaganza" with a "frantic narrative" and "pertinent observations about diversity and gender politics".[5]


Valente has described the book as the result of having been publicly dared, by one of her Twitter followers, to write a science fiction / fantasy version of Eurovision; an editor then offered to buy such a novel from her, sight unseen.[6]


In 2019, Valente announced that she was working on a sequel, to be titled "Space Oddity".[7]


  1. ^ 2019 Hugo Award & 1944 Retro Hugo Award Finalists, by Cheryl Morgan, at; published April 2, 2019; retrieved May 31, 2019
  2. ^ SPACE OPERA, reviewed at Kirkus Reviews; published online April 16, 2018; retrieved May 31, 2019
  3. ^ Space Opera, reviewed at Publishers Weekly; reviewed February 19, 2018; retrieved May 31, 2019
  4. ^ "Short review: Space Opera by Catherynne M Valente", by James Lovegrove, in the Financial Times; published September 28, 2018; retrieved May 31, 2019
  5. ^ The best recent science fiction novels – review roundup, by Eric Brown, in the Guardian; published September 7, 2018; retrieved May 31, 2019
  6. ^ The Big Idea: Catherynne M. Valente, by Catherynne M. Valente, at John Scalzi's Whatever; published April 12, 2018; retrieved May 31, 2019
  7. ^ Catherynne Valente Is Writing a Sequel to Space Opera. Yes, it Is Called Space Oddity, by Joel Cunningham, at Barnes & Noble; published April 3, 2019; retrieved May 31, 2019