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Kalbear

SPACE OPERA: It will ROCK YOU IN THE FACE

31 posts in this topic

For @Iskaral Pust, and anyone else who wants to be awesomed.

This is one of the best science fiction books I've ever read. Not "this year" or 'comedy' or any other qualifier - it is one of the best science fiction books I've ever read. It is funny, first and foremost - virtually every paragraph has something that is worth quoting or saying out loud, each page is filled with absurdist weirdness that also is sarcastic and wounding and clever, each chapter jumps for joy. It is a spiritual successor to HGTG in many ways - an often incomprehensibly weird universe, man's reaction to it, odd explanations of things on the side - but it is so much more. As Dan Abraham said on twitter, where HGTG is often depressed and sarcastic and somewhat nihilistic, Space Opera is full of joy and optimism while recognizing how life is often quite shitty. 

The other part that is far better than HGTG is the characters. The characters are not just jokes, they're not just caricatures, and they're not just coolness in a cool costume; they are as deep and wounded and asshole as anyone out there, and this book somehow manages to pack in a massive, very human gut punch when you're least expecting it due to the depth they have. In a lot of ways it is not just a spiritual successor to HGTG, it's one for Buffy and for Veronica Mars and for David Bowie.

The ending is brilliant, tying together threads launched on the first page that seemed to be infodumps into a wild cathartic session of pyrotechnics and paradox. It's one of the most satisfying endings I've read in a long time.

The aliens are incredibly weird and varied and are given pretty awesome small backstories that flesh them out quite nicely. The level of detail in this story is absurdly dense and rich, and explanations go on for paragraph-length sentences. 

It's not as sweet and emotionally brave as Fairyland is, and it's not as cutting as Refrigerator Monologues is. It's far funnier than both, has better balance than either, and is far more imaginative than anything I've seen in a long time. 

@Werthead, if you want a copy let me know and I'll send you one to review, because this is amazing stuff.

 

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>explanations go on for paragraph-length sentences.

 

So it's typical Cat Valente and your experience of it will be deeply dependent on whether you like her ultraviolet style of writing? :D

Thanks for the review--I love the concept, but every time I try one of her books that I'd love the concept on, it's the same experience.

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1 hour ago, redriver said:

What's HGTG?

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy I assume.

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Ah,thank you.This looks like a novel I have to read.

 

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I gotta say, while I liked it a lot, I didn't love it like I love Radiance. I mean, I love Radiance. This one had a couple of things that held it back just a little from that level.

 

The ending was one of them. I felt like it could have done with more time to sort the emotional fallout. It's one of those stories that I feel warranted a brief wind-down period that it didn't get.

Also, while I appreciate what Valente was going for with the 'do better, humanity' parts, I felt that sometimes she overlaboured the point. I mean, that message is implicit in the premise, she didn't really need to make it also the central point of almost every interaction they had.


Those aside though, it was a joy to read and everyone should read it. I almost feel like a grinch just for having some issues with it.

 

5 hours ago, Kalbear said:

As Dan Abraham said on twitter, where HGTG is often depressed and sarcastic and somewhat nihilistic,

 

I actually think this is something of a mischaracterisation of HHGTTG as a whole. The last book, sure, absolutely, it's depressed and depressing as hell (which Adams recognised and wanted to fix with a sixth book before he died), but the rest of it isn't really. It has its moments of bite, but it also has its joys, of discovery, of friendship, and of the absurdity of existence itself.

Mind, I also feel that the HH comparison isn't all that accurate, although I obviously get why it's an easy one to make. It's a different sort of funny (I don't think it's as funny, but each to their own) and a completely different, much more structured, sort of story.

 

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9 hours ago, Kalbear said:

@Werthead, if you want a copy let me know and I'll send you one to review, because this is amazing stuff.

Sure, why not? The acclaim this one's been picking up is off the charts.

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22 minutes ago, unJon said:

The Kindle version is only $4.99. Can’t pass that up. 

If I had a Kindle, had any intention of getting a Kindle, or used dollars, sure :)

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3 hours ago, unJon said:

The Kindle version is only $4.99. Can’t pass that up. 

Sweet!  Ordered!  I'm behind in my reading this month due to end of term business and total exhaustion.   Hope to get to this in the next 2 weeks.  Thanks all!

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3 hours ago, Werthead said:

If I had a Kindle, had any intention of getting a Kindle, or used dollars, sure :)

British Luddite. ;)

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Thanks Kalbear for posting the review.  I was eager to hear if it would live up the descriptions and samples. 

Added to the reading list. 

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12 hours ago, unJon said:

The Kindle version is only $4.99. Can’t pass that up. 

This was basically my reasoning. Do my tastes align with Kalbear's enough to make this a must-read? Maybe and maybe not... but for for $5, it's surely worth a try.

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23 hours ago, Little Valkyrie said:

>explanations go on for paragraph-length sentences.

 

So it's typical Cat Valente and your experience of it will be deeply dependent on whether you like her ultraviolet style of writing? :D

Thanks for the review--I love the concept, but every time I try one of her books that I'd love the concept on, it's the same experience.

I find your ideas intriguing and what like to subscribe to your newsletter.

(I do not like Valente much as a writer or a person, but I digress)

 

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4 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

 

(I do not like Valente much as a writer or a person, but I digress)

 

Tell us more!

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I've already given up on Valente years ago after sampling several of her books. I've not enjoyed a single one of them, the one that was least unpleasant was the two book series that brought her into fame, Orphan's Tales. There was something to be said for those. Since then it's been a downhill slide from an already not very high slope. Her books generally feel super self indulgent.

But hey, if this new Space Opera book is so highly recommended and so praised as seen here, I am curious. 

So I read 15 pages and already had my fair share of her style of writing and characterization.

Conclusion: If you're a fan of hers, you might enjoy it, but if you're not, no reason to expect that this is mouthwatering at all.

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On 4/15/2018 at 11:22 AM, redriver said:

It's £7.78 on my kindle:o

I assume Americans need the discount to make up for not having background context on the glitz and geopolitics of the Eurovision song contest.

I haven't read Valente before so $4.99 isn't bad for a Marmite experiment.

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12 hours ago, AncalagonTheBlack said:

Tell us more!

Heh, I do not think I can without violating forum rules, but if you remember all the RoH fuckery, it was part of that.

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24 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

Heh, I do not think I can without violating forum rules, but if you remember all the RoH fuckery, it was part of that.

Ah yes, the River Oaks Hospital fiasco.  How could we ever forget that?

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