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Year Zero: A Novel | [Rob Reid]

Year Zero: A Novel

Low-level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter thinks it's a prank, not an alien encounter, when a redheaded mullah and a curvaceous nun show up at his office. But Frampton and Carly are highly advanced (if bumbling) extraterrestrials. And boy, do they have news. The entire cosmos, they tell him, has been hopelessly hooked on humanity's music ever since "Year Zero" (1977 to us), when American pop songs first reached alien ears. This addiction has driven a vast intergalactic society to commit the biggest copyright violation since the Big Bang.
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Publisher's Summary

An alien advance party was suddenly nosing around my planet.

Worse, they were lawyering up....

In the hilarious tradition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Rob Reid takes you on a headlong journey through the outer reaches of the universe - and the inner workings of our absurdly dysfunctional music industry.

Low-level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter thinks it's a prank, not an alien encounter, when a redheaded mullah and a curvaceous nun show up at his office. But Frampton and Carly are highly advanced (if bumbling) extraterrestrials. And boy, do they have news.

The entire cosmos, they tell him, has been hopelessly hooked on humanity's music ever since "Year Zero" (1977 to us), when American pop songs first reached alien ears. This addiction has driven a vast intergalactic society to commit the biggest copyright violation since the Big Bang. The resulting fines and penalties have bankrupted the whole universe. We humans suddenly own everything - and the aliens are not amused.

Nick Carter has just been tapped to clean up this mess before things get ugly, and he's an unlikely galaxy-hopping hero: He's scared of heights. He's also about to be fired. And he happens to have the same name as a Backstreet Boy. But he does know a thing or two about copyright law. And he's packing a couple of other pencil-pushing superpowers that could come in handy.

Soon he's on the run from a sinister parrot and a highly combustible vacuum cleaner. With Carly and Frampton as his guides, Nick now has 48 hours to save humanity, while hopefully wowing the hot girl who lives down the hall from him.

©2012 Robert Reid (P)2012 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"Can you imagine The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy combined with The Social Network? Of course you cannot: because only Rob Reid can. Hilarious, provocative, and supersmart, Year Zero is not merely the first IPSF (intellectual property SF) epic ever written, it is also a plain brilliant novel to be enjoyed in perpetuity, in the known universe and all unknown universes yet to be discovered." (John Hodgman, resident expert, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart)

"Year Zero is a brilliant satire of the American entertainment industry, and I never stopped grinning." (Kevin Hearne, author of The Iron Druid Chronicles)

"This book is already required reading on all of the educated planets in the universe, and now they're letting us Earthlings have a look at it, too. There are at least 3.6 good jokes and 9.7 clever ideas per page. I did the math: that's a really impressive ratio. I never thought I would say this, but this book made me laugh out loud and taught me stuff about copyright infringement. Clever, smart, and so original that people are probably already trying to rip it off. (Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (1020 )
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  •  
    Robert Akron, OH, United States 08-15-12
    Robert Akron, OH, United States 08-15-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Fantastic Performance by Hodgman"

    The story behind Year Zero is summarized in the writeup, and in many of the other reviews.
    Folks have thrown around comparisons to Douglas Adams, and while I can understand the impulse, I think they do come at SF from different comedic angles.

    Hitchhiker's Guide and company have much more of an absurdist bent - the plot will often bend in service to the joke that Adams is trying to reach. Reid has an outlandish premise, and the comedy results from taking this premise and following it all the way through to the furthest logical (illogical?) extremes. I enjoy both approaches, and while I love and revere Adam's stuff, I think I find Reid's take a more satisfying as a reader.

    Or as a listener.

    Hodgman's performance on this audiobook is an absolute delight.
    I have heard him in interviews, on The Daily Show, on his podcast Judge John Hodgman, in ads, and as an occasional actor. I am an absolute fan, but he seems to keep winding up in roles where he is performing variations on insane-intellectual-lecturer-mad-professor-on-downers-with-an-ironic-twist. (Probably not the most concise description, but I hope the point comes across. Let me state unequivocally, that I am a big fan of his. ) In Year One, he showed more range in the first two hours of the narration than I have seen from him elsewhere.

    In many audiobooks, narrators will sometimes lose me in a round of dialogue - they may not make each character distinctive enough to understand who exactly is speaking at any given moment. This was never a problem in this reading, and some of the voices that Hodgman came up with were downright suprising. (I actually checked again on Audible to make sure he was the only narrator listed, they were that different from his normal tone.)
    He makes each voice distinctive, but does not lapse in to cartoony or schlocky impressions (something I struggle with when reading stories to my kids at night). His own voice - insane-intellectual-lecturer-mad-professor-on-downers-with-an-ironic-twist is absolutely perfect for the narrator, Nick Carter.

    If the premise even mildly intrigues you, or if you are a fan of Hodgman in other media, please give this a try. I loved it.

    20 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    january huntersville, NC, United States 01-25-13
    january huntersville, NC, United States 01-25-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A great book for super nerds!"

    I wish people wouldn't compare new authors to epic writers like Douglas Adams or Steig Larsson. It just sets them up for failure and disappoints readers. While this is a funny book about aliens, that's where the comparison to Douglas Adams stops. Rob Reid may have been influenced by reading Hitchhiker's, but he may have also enjoyed a book or two by Christopher Moore, or any number of other humorous writers. If you choose to listen to this book, listen to it for its' own value and not because you liked some other book that came before it.

    That being said, here's what I thought of Year Zero:

    It started out a little slow for me. I had a hard time getting into the characters and the story line. But once I got the hang of it, I found it to be packed with little quips and references to everything nerdy that I love. From the video game Portal to Microsoft Windows. It's not the kind of book where I laughed out loud in random public places while listening with my earphones, but I did chuckle quite a few times, and thought to myself, wow, he really just said that!

    The narrator was perfect for this part. Not too over the top, and not so middle of the road that he made the funny bits boring. He did a great job with all the voices.

    If you are a nerd, geek or gamer (or have a partner that is) you will love this book.

    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kauaijim Lihue, HI, United States 10-21-12
    Kauaijim Lihue, HI, United States 10-21-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This is the funniest combination I've heard"
    What made the experience of listening to Year Zero the most enjoyable?

    The writer is funny. The story has plenty of nice twists. Hodgman is the perfect narrator. The combination is perfect. I laughed out loud during this book more frequently than ever before while listening.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Just a great combination of characters.


    What about John Hodgman’s performance did you like?

    He's funny just talking. With good material like this he's great.


    If you could take any character from Year Zero out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Sorry, I'm not writing a fifth grade book report. I just want other people to know this book is worth their time and money


    Any additional comments?

    You will not be disappointed.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ethan Hurd LA CA 09-28-12
    Ethan Hurd LA CA 09-28-12 Member Since 2012

    ejhdigdug

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    "If you like copyright humor (and who doesn't) then"
    If you could sum up Year Zero in three words, what would they be?

    Copyright Humor Lessig


    What did you like best about this story?

    This book is what you would get if you got Douglas Addams, Lawrence Lessig and Cory Doctorow to write a book together. It is a short but fun book to read, it has good characters, a decent plot and a solid ending. It moves right along and did make me laugh out loud a few times.


    What about John Hodgman’s performance did you like?

    Once I found out that John Hodgman did the reading for the audio book there was no way I was going to bother with the print edition. He is the perfect voice for this book, now I wish he'd go and do the audio editions for the Hitchiker's Guide series.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Hope they didn't spend too much on the FX


    Any additional comments?

    I would only recommend this book to a few people. If you are an avid reader of Boing Boing then this book is for you, otherwise move on.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nathan 07-12-12
    Nathan 07-12-12 Listener Since 2009
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    "Edge of your seat funny"
    Would you listen to Year Zero again? Why?

    Yes, very funny.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Year Zero?

    I don't believe in spoilers


    What about John Hodgman’s performance did you like?

    Great. He did an awesome job with a wide array of charcters.


    Any additional comments?




    Year Zero's summary may sound a bit far fetched but it's completely plausible. The Universe's financial structure is in perial because of America's asinine copyright laws. The only way to solve the issue is to try to negotiate the rights to every song created..... So, destruction of earth it is. Actually, most of the aliens are so smitten with our music that they would never wish Earth any harm, but one group wishes otherwise.

    This is one of those books that you will tell everyone about and buy for your closest friends. It's edge of your seat funny and a one sitting kinda read. My recommendation is buy as soon as possible. Unless you work for a record label or congress, you probably wouldn't get it anyways.

    People who will like this book may include: nerds, geeks, and music lovers. I don't want to put Rob in the same class as Douglas Adam's its not fair to Rob. It's like going to see a movie that everyone tells you is best ever and when it doesn't completely blow your mind your let down. This book is an instant favorite for me and there will be a hardback edition on my shelf. I just don't want you to go into it expecting the universe..

    13 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    colleen ANCHORAGE, AK, United States 08-04-12
    colleen ANCHORAGE, AK, United States 08-04-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not H2G2. Not even close."

    This book is interesting. Not great. Not even good. And certainly not like Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy. It was unique with an original storyline but it didn't pass muster to rank above 3 stars.

    28 of 43 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Howard Cumberland, MD, United States 09-14-12
    Howard Cumberland, MD, United States 09-14-12 Member Since 2010

    When I like something I'll let you know. If I don't, I'll let you know that too!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Why are aliens more ethical than us"

    Delightful tale of copyright gone wrong. Pleasurable story with some real context that should get you to start thinking why we have such ridiculous copyright laws. Also, consider that the vast world of the universe would owe so much, and be willing to function under Earth's messed up intellectual property laws. Truly fiction that we can only hope will be copied in real life!

    Ried uses fiction very well to make his points. Hodgman is flawless with his performance of Reid's first work of fiction. Looking forward to more from this pair,

    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Roseville, CA, United States 09-03-12
    Scott Roseville, CA, United States 09-03-12 Member Since 2006

    Don't you just love a great story well told?

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Twist on a Crazy Universe"

    Okay, comparing anyone to Scott Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide is just unfair because that was classic. Rob Reid does come close though. The idea of America's ridiculous copyright law reaching into and affecting the highly refined beings of the cosmos is very funny. You won't laugh on the first page as I did with Hitchhiker, but by the 3rd or 4th I was consistently grinning at pokes at popular culture including social media (including "Flutter" - you have to hear it, I won't ruin the joke and Klippy the annoying mascot for Microsoft Word). Like Hitchiker's Guide there is an important "love interest" that helps keep the story interesting. The narration is an excellent performance of dozens of weird characters with great voices.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Krasner 08-11-12 Member Since 2005
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    "Good premise but its a one trick pony-boring"

    What a great story line: extra-terrestrials become addicted to Earth rock and roll. However, it should have been a short story. The story line becomes a one trick pony and becomes very boring half way through. The author stretches for more and more far fetched subplots to keep it going but he lost me. Couldn't finish the book. Maybe some day when I have nothing else to listen to.

    16 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Great Falls, VA, United States 07-28-12
    Michael Great Falls, VA, United States 07-28-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Required Reading for 1st Year Law Students"
    What was one of the most memorable moments of Year Zero?

    Final confession of the trespassing alien at the end of book.


    Any additional comments?

    Ought to be required reading for 1st year law students. Should dispell any notions of the law being a pursuit of truth and justice.

    9 of 14 people found this review helpful
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  • Vincent
    EdenvalueSouth Africa
    12/24/12
    Overall
    "This will go out of date very quickly."

    This book was fairly humorous, an interesting tweak on the digital aspect of DNA and the so called 'junk genes'. In real life someone has taken the genome of a living cell and converted it into digital code, altered it using a computer to recreate a new bacteria that replicates, which has 'www url addresses' encoded in it too. The problem I had with the book is the story is too trite. The title is wrong, it should have at least have been Years Zero, but we never speak about month, day and year in the same terms as we speak of hours, minutes and seconds.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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