Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

‘Space Opera’ by Michael Kandel

with 3 comments

What better way to return to The Space Opera Renaissance than with a story entitled ‘Space Opera’? Except, of course, it isn’t space opera. Instead, it is an obvious joke: what if, like space opera was opera about space? So Kandel gives us a lengthy synopsis of an imaginary opera with occasional critical asides, as if one were reading a tedious entry in a poorly written overview of the field.

Hartwell and Cramer describe Kandel as “the sort of SF writer who perceives the odors of contempt and literary class prejudice that still hang in the social air when the term space opera is used in literary circles, and leaves the room.” An arse, in other words. They go on to say that the story “poke[s] fun at the absurdities of opera and of space opera” but I didn’t notice this. The only thing I found enjoyable about this story was Kandel’s ill-advised name for his aliens which gives rise to lines like this: “A chorus of bints sings of the forthcoming invasion of the Dalminian Empire.”

Quality: *
OOO: *

Written by Martin

17 July 2013 at 12:40

3 Responses

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  1. an obvious joke

    One that goes back at least to Jack Vance’s 1965 novel Space Opera. Vance noted that the title was his publisher’s choice, not his, so perhaps the joke was stale even then.

    Gareth Rees

    17 July 2013 at 13:08

  2. An impression that echoes my own.


    18 July 2013 at 01:44

  3. […] This story is actually from the earlier ‘Draftees (1960s)’ section of the anthology (despite being published in 1972). I skipped over it at the time because I didn’t really have anything to say about it. It still don’t but it seems appropriate to return to it immediately after Michael Moorcock’s contribution. It is a three page compressed novel that is satirical where Moorcock is sincere. The editors quote Brian Aldiss to the effect that this story finished off the up until now endless saga, written finis to those mighty tomes, killed the entire literature dead.” Well, nice try. Still, as a nail in space opera’s coffin, it is considerably more impressive and effective than Michael Kandel’s attempt. […]

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