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Agent to the Stars | [John Scalzi]

Agent to the Stars

The space-faring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity's first interstellar friendship. There's just one problem: They're hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish. So getting humanity's trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal. Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He's one of Hollywood's hottest young agents.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Wil Wheaton, a Star Trek: The Next Generation alum, is a canny choice for narrator of this intersection of science fiction and Elmore Leonard-esque Hollywood farce. In addition to being a rather prominent footnote in sci-fi history, Wheaton’s also got a great voice — sonorous, with an inflection similar to a late-night radio DJ who’s bemusedly sharing an anecdote on air between tracks. His voice also carries a hint of that lilt peculiar to many native Angelenos, which comes in handy when he exaggerates it to Valley Girl-proportions to portray starlet Michelle Beck, former cheerleader and current box office draw.

Hollywood agent Tom Stein is the book’s hero, and when the story begins, Michelle is his most important client. That is, until Tom meets Joshua, an extraterrestrial whose alien race hires Tom and his boss, superagent Carl Lupo, to represent them. The Yherajk have decided their best hope for a peaceful first contact between their race and all of humanity is to out themselves via the movies, and they know if they want to make it in Hollywood, they need good representation.

Wheaton’s voicing of Joshua, who has traveled to Earth as the Yherajk’s representative, is another highlight. Joshua, like his kinsmen, looks like a gelatinous blob, gives off a noxious odor, and slithers around amorphously. He’s also incredibly educated when it comes to human pop culture, having logged countless hours watching sitcoms. Wheaton delivers Joshua’s line, “We look like snot. And we smell like dead fish,” in a nasally deadpan that suits a one-liner-delivering alien to a T.

Even when Scalzi veers into semi-philosophical territory — as when he explores why an alien race would choose a Hollywood debut over staging their premiere in Washington — Wheaton keeps the narration moving with his just-right character voices. Look out for the both silly and spot-on sounding Quebecois accent he uses to portray Roland Lanois, an art-house film director with a critical role in the novel, and for his Buddha-like turn as Gwedif, a Yherajk storyteller. —Maggie Frank

Publisher's Summary

The space-faring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity's first interstellar friendship. There's just one problem: They're hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish. So getting humanity's trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal. Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He's one of Hollywood's hottest young agents. But although Stein may have just concluded the biggest deal of his career, it's quite another thing to negotiate for an entire alien race. To earn his percentage this time, he's going to need all the smarts, skills, and wits he can muster.

©2005 John Scalzi (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“Narrator Wil Wheaton animates the slapstick text with a tone that is appropriate for the story of a young Tinsel Town agent whose other clients are either equally deranged or aren't making him much money.” (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (3586 )
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  •  
    Cassie Sultan, WA USA 04-09-11
    Cassie Sultan, WA USA 04-09-11 Member Since 2004
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    "A lot of fun"

    The kids (Teenagers) and I had a lot of fun "reading" this book on a long car trip. Wil's reading was perfect and all of us had a good giggle (or 100's) along the way! Highly recommend!

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gordon lake worth, FL, United States 04-17-11
    Gordon lake worth, FL, United States 04-17-11 Member Since 2006
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    "Setting a new standard"

    Having Wil Wheaton narrating this audiobook was a brilliant move. He makes the characters come alive as you would expect them to be.
    And the writing is top notch I have many many audiobooks and this is now my favorite, you will not be disappointed.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrea Linz, Austria 02-20-11
    Andrea Linz, Austria 02-20-11 Member Since 2007
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    "awesome"

    Excellent audiobook in story (absurd, fun, fantastic) and narration (just perfect)! One of the best I've ever listened. Highly recommendable.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bradford Omaha, NE, United States 03-14-13
    Bradford Omaha, NE, United States 03-14-13 Member Since 2001
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    "Meh ... says the SF Fan."

    My second Scalzi novel, I was looking forward to seeing what he could do with what is a very intriguing idea ... how would an alien race introduce themselves to 21st Century humanity? The logic of Scalzi's approach is sadly unquestionable. It turns this bland and unexciting novel into a worthwhile read. Scalzi navigates the world of Hollywood stars and agents well, implying to some extent first-hand experience with the industry. His choice of alien species is different and certainly eliminates all stereotypical first contact scenarios right off the bat. Make no mistake, this book is not "Rendezvous with Rama." It's not even in the same solar system as that one. This is a fun little novel about the sad world of Hollywood and just how much the mere appearances of the people there impact our daily perceptions of humanity as a whole. The hidden messages regarding the Holocaust are an interesting twist. However, I think if you really want an alien race to understand humanity and why we're even worth making contact with you don't show them humanity at its worst and then expect them to come down as friends, no matter how popular they get. Scalzi's writing remains an abused victim of overusing "he said," "she said," and an unending supply of adverbs, but at least it didn't kill the overall experience. Need a break from typical first contact novels, give this one a go ... just don't go in with too high of expectations.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A 06-02-12
    A 06-02-12 Member Since 2003

    Love to read. Mysteries, history, romance, biography, current events, science, classic fiction. No vampires. No zombies. No self-help. Find me on GoodReads and BookLikes.

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    "Sci-fi at my speed"

    What else can I add to the conversation? What a thoroughly enjoyable romp through space aliens and Hollywood. Wil Wheaton is a fantastic narrator--and no, you won't be haunted by Wesley Crusher.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elle in the Great NorthWest Beaverton, OR, United States 06-01-12
    Elle in the Great NorthWest Beaverton, OR, United States 06-01-12

    I LOVE books. And dogs & quilting & beading & volunteering.

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    "Another Scalzi and Wheaton winner - great fun"

    Sometimes its entertaining to listen to a fun novel-a story that makes you laugh because the author has written a book with tongue firmly in cheek and the narrator gets this and performs the novel in just the right way.

    The John Scalzi/Wil Wheaton duo doesn't seem to be able to go wrong with this. Scalzi's books frequently are LOL funny Science Fiction-a real rarity-and Wil Wheaton seems to be able to translate this attitude so well.

    Agent to the Stars has a "First Encounter" plot, but it's sure not one you've ever read before. These aliens know they have a problem with their appearance and hire a famous Hollywood agent to represent them to the world.

    The various incarnations that "Joshua", the alien protagonist goes thru are truly funny--I found some similarity with the Iron Druid novels by Kevin Hearne, especially Oberon his talking dog-Joshua the alien absorbs the dying body and personality of a dog.....amongst others.

    It's crazy, complicated at times and just plain funny. Not a shoot 'em up Si Fi if thats what you look for in Si Fi you'll be disappointed, and even though it's very humorous, there is a serious plot underlying the whole slapstick comedy.

    Have some fun, download this and "Fuzzy Nation" too, another Scalzi/Wheaton co-op effort...both are well worth your time at the beach or by the pool. And allow yourself to laugh out loud.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grant NANTUCKET, MA, United States 10-11-11
    Grant NANTUCKET, MA, United States 10-11-11 Member Since 2008

    caffeinated

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    "Crazy idea. Very cinematic."

    The idea for this book, the characters, the pacing, the conflicts and the humor is spot on. Of course nice aliens would go through Hollywood to win the hearts and minds of the world. It makes perfect sense. And great listening. Wil Wheaton knocks this one out of the park from a narration standpoint.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 10-01-11
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 10-01-11 Member Since 2010

    I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath

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    "Very funny"

    My first John Scalzi book, but it won't be my last. An alien race wants to meet us, but they know we won't find them pleasant, so they hire an agent from Hollywood. Thomas Stein the agent is extremely funny and the interactions between the aliens and humans are roll on the ground funny. The first 2/3 of the book is a five star novel. When JS gets down to actually solving his main problem of making these gelatinous and stinky aliens lovable to humans then the book gets less funny. The solution is very disappointing.

    Will Wheaton gives a great performance, better then a lot of the more established readers. I had a couple of times when for an instance I was confused on which character was speaking. Some of the minor characters have the same voice as the main character. The voice for the alien is excellent. I believe WW's reading made the book a better experience then reading it in print.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ken Millbrook, New York, United States 06-21-11
    Ken Millbrook, New York, United States 06-21-11 Member Since 2010

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Just plain fun"

    This is very well written, both with regard to story arc and prose, as is usual of John Scalzi novels. This one is also full of clever humor and made me laugh out loud frequently. I also have to say, as someone with family in the Hollywood agent business, that Scalzi totally nails this industry. Finally, Wil Wheaton is the PERFECT narrator for this novel. He has the tone exactly right.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katya A new york 03-06-13
    Katya A new york 03-06-13
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    "A stay-up-all-night-reading kind of book"

    This is my first book by John Scalzi, but definitely not the last. His sharp anad slightly sarcastic humor, effortless wit and narrative flow remind me a lot of "Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. The characters are interesting, multi-dimensional and over the top, while still believable and very much likable. The way the story weaves through the fantastic elements and the mundane elements is thrilling.

    Separate tip of the hat to Wil Wheaton, an excellent narrator. His characters are very distinct, his technique is flawless and Joshua the Alien sounds like a true hipster, which, i guess is expected for a gelatinous life form.

    I would recommend this book, you will enjoy it!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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