‘Space Opera’ by Catherynne M. Valente

‘Many Very Long Sentences’

Score: 3/5

It is good to know that, in these trying times of The Great Full-Stop Shortage Of 2020 that we have authors creating works like this.

Take, for example, this sentence from page 11:

Once upon a time on a small, watery, excitable planet called Earth, in a small, watery country called England (which was bound and determined never to get too excited about anything), a leggy psychedelic ambidextrous omnisexual gendersplat glitterpunk financially punch-drunk ethnically ambitious glamrock messiah by the name of Danesh Jalo was born to a family so large and benignly neglectful that they only noticed he’d stopped coming home on weekends when his grandmother was nearly run over with all her groceries in front of the Piccadilly Square tube station, stunned into slack-jawed immobility by the sight of her Danesh, twenty feet high, in a frock the color of her customary afternoon sip of Pernod, filling up every centimeter of a gargantuan billboard.

Yep, that’s one sentence.

There’s a lot in this book that makes me want to like it. Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett influences, Eurovision, space, H2G2-like humour - all things I like. It just doesn’t quite land for me though. While Douglas Adams could write long humorous sentences like the above (and pull it off incredibly well) he didn’t do it all the fucking time.

It’s a nice gag. It very quickly turned into an annoyance. It felt very overused by page 50 but that didn’t hold the author back from using everywhere else too.

Apart from the incredibly long sentences, what have we got? Eurovision-in-space, with the fate of the world hanging on the result. (No spoilers here - that’s basically the premise of the book told to you in the first pages. The term ‘Eurovision’ doesn’t crop up much, though. Dunno why.)

And there is humour too. It’s funny enough, and bits of it are reminiscent of H2G2. But it feels like it’s trying too hard to be reminiscent of it so it all feels a little clunky.

I wanted to really like this book. But in the end I didn’t. Maybe it’s my fault it just didn’t live up to expectations?

Tags: 4 Word Book Reviews
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