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
"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)
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.
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.
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.
Just a great combination of characters.
He's funny just talking. With good material like this he's great.
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
You will not be disappointed.
Copyright Humor Lessig
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.
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.
Hope they didn't spend too much on the FX
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.
Yes, very funny.
I don't believe in spoilers
Great. He did an awesome job with a wide array of charcters.
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..
I try to occasionally force "literature" on myself to counteract the effects of super-natural and occult-based YA and pop novels.
This contained way more about copyright law than I ever wanted to, or thought I would ever, be reading in my life. I wanted to love this book, and had such high hopes. It was just ok. It was amusing at times, and I LOLed in my car once or twice, but any comparisons between this book and Douglas Adams is pretty much blasphemy.
I've never read the print version so can't compare. Generally I try not to overlap between print, eBook and audio book.
For shame Audible!! As River Song would say, "Spoilers!!" :-)
His delivery. I think most people are familiar with him as PC, from the old Mac vs PC commercials. He's funny when he's supposed to be the front man, and that humorous inflection in his voice makes it a lot easier to listen to, than having to make it up in your mind.
The first time in the underground train station, when they mob the Earth girl.
Nope. Not really.
Audiobook Addict... owner of 200+ and counting.
Year Zero starts off with a decent premise:
The rest of the universe is wildly infatuated with our music after it was discovered in 1970 and then redistributed the music The catch is:. Aliens who reach a certain point in technology are part of a multi-stellar conglomerate of civilized worlds. Due to the level of technology required to be a civilized world, the creatures in the civilized worlds dedicate their lives to the pursuit of art and consume the art in the way that honors the culture that created it.
Earth's intellectual property laws around music are unique. The copyright laws mean that the civilized worlds have been pirating our music, every song in existence for 40 years. Due to our overly egregious copyright laws (up to $150,000 USD per song) and the civilized world's deep commitment to the arts, the infractions threatened to bankrupt the entire universe.
Its a good start, humorous in theory.... except it isn't. The power of earth music is so great that it caused massed die-offs in civilized worlds but because, y'know, because classic rock is that good... to all sentient life. The main character, a low level lawyer with name that is similar to a once famous pop-star (cue the laughs), is the point of contact with two very human aliens who immediately accepts the story presented by the aliens at face value.
While its commentary on the cynicism of our IP laws in the world are entertaining and mild side-steps into pop culture and tech are clever, the story isn't so much. It's a bit of let down. The potential is there, but rarely capitalized on or explored. I'm not familiar with Rob Reid but this felt like a rookie novel as characters are pretty vanilla.
John Hodgman does a decent job with the material, although occasionally an alien voice or two are slightly grating (but are described as such) and even kicks out a half-sung rendition of a boy-band ballad, which in the wrong hands, could have been abysmal.
To be fair, I bought this audio book based on the publishers statement that this story was in the tradition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which is why I gave it a 3 and not a 2, can't blame a book for being what it claims to be.
Hodgman's performance was good with the exception of a single character that had me turning down the volume and waiting for the scene to end.. which unfortunately went on far too long.
Overall this is an OK book to listen to if you are in between books in a series or just looking to listen to something new. If you are a BIG fan of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy you may want to listen to something else though.
Not sure I would buy the next Prequel/Sequel that I'm sure is on its way, I look forward to listening to most books on my drive to work, but there was never a point in this story that made me look forward to the next time I would listen to it.
If you aim for Douglas Adams, you are going to miss, but not necessarily land in a bad place. In this case Rob Reid landed in John Scalzi's backyard, the obscure genre of "science fiction legal comedy". For the most part it all kinda works. There are quite a few loose threads and dead ends which don't fold back into the narrative as they might in more practiced hands, but as a first science fiction effort it is quite clever and enjoyable. The only glaring miss-step was the epilogue section's lengthy interview with one of the nine undocumented aliens hiding on earth. This equestrian necro-fu is so tone-deaf that it taints the otherwise good energy and good will of the actual conclusion.
Absolutely, it packed a lot into a relatively short story and kept me laughing with every paragraph.
Nick Carter, the main character because he was so level headed and reasonable without ever being dull.
Trudy, he managed to play such a curt and brusque character so well.
It made me laugh out loud on the train for a whole week.
"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.
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