Space Opera - Catherynne M. Valente

I'm three chapters into this book and I'm blown away. The style makes hyperbole seem like restrained understatement. This book is so extrovert it makes my head hurt.

 

Take "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" then double the speed and triple the volume. Replace the urbanity of "Don't Panic" with the existential bluntness of "Life is beautiful. And life is stupid." Then use four decades of contextually dense pop-culture references as rebar to allow the concrete of your narrative structure to rise rapidly from nothing to mind-blowing complexity that is almost disturbingly easy to grasp - like Wile E Coyote, you can run with these ideas as long as you don't look down.

 

So, what are the ideas? Well

"Life is beautiful. And life is stupid."

The stupid part means that sentient races fall into galactic war because we races are hardwired to ask:

 

Which of us are people and which of us are meat?

 

Once you decide that you are people and they are meat, attention turns, not to living in peace but to whether you:

 

"eat, enslave, shun, keep them as pets, or cleanly andquietly exterminate them all. "

 A century after having ended the Sentience Wars, all races are agreed that this can never be allowed to happen again. Cue the invasion of Earth at this point.

 

Meanwhile, the focus is definitely on the personal, even if the person focused on is a burnt out ex-global rock star who is now decades away from mega-fame and has just had his third solo album fail.

 

Why the focus of on one person? Because:

 

"The story of the galaxy is the story of a single person in it. A cover version, overproduced, remastered, with the volume cranked up way past eleven and into the infinite."

 

This is the kind of book I want to read in one sitting but can't because:

 

1. My head would explode

2. I keep having to stop to take notes.

3. I don't want this ride to end.