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
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.
“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)
Excellent audiobook in story (absurd, fun, fantastic) and narration (just perfect)! One of the best I've ever listened. Highly recommendable.
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.
So I am no writer and will probably never be, but this book was super bad. If I had used a credit I would have sent it back, but alas I snagged it as a daily deal special so I will suffer in silence.
I am an artist and I love to listen to books while I work. Books have always been an important part of my life. Audible Rocks!
I enjoyed this book quite a lot. The Idea of an alien race needing an hollywood agent to be introduced to earth is creative and funny. Lots of humor including some laugh out loud moments with a wise cracking alien that looks like a jello mound.
Now I am someone who does not think that bad language enhances a story but often detracts from it, so when the 1st sentence of the book included an F-bomb I was worried.
There is some language, but not enough to ruin the book and the main culprit was a very discusting person who was not in the book for long. I enjoyed the story and the characters. The reader did an excellent job.
Good lighthearted read! I recommend it.
Dept Q, Harry Hole... where are you?
My first Scalzi experience was Red Shirts. It was funny and extremely fun to read. Agent To The Stars is all of the above, but a bit less complicated.
You don't have to like science fiction to enjoy this book. But I wouldn't advise either book if you don't like the humor of Woody Allen. I loved both books, laughing all the way through...
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
Wil Wheaton's well-honed humorous reading of John Scalzi's now-well-refined humorous science fiction writing (now well refined, given that this was Scalzi's first try at it). The story itself is good, and it's good fun, but it's generally facile. But the combination of humor in the writing and the reading makes it irresistible good fun.
Tom, the narrator and main character, is expert at putting people in their place and getting what he wants and needs from them, no matter who they are. That he does this so easily and often is the main reason why I label the story as facile, but it's also the source of much of the good fun of the book. And certainly the most incendiary such moment is when he endures the tirade of a bitch of an actress/singer over a change in agent and then totally tells her where to get off.
I've listened to Wil Wheaton previously reading Scalzi (Fuzzy Nation) and reading another author (Ready Player One) and there is no doubt that he is a major reason why their brand of humorous science fiction works so well in the audiobook format. I've also read Scalzi in print (Android's Dream, which Wheaton narrates in audio, though I haven't listened to it -- yet) and Ready Player One (before I listened to it), so I can say with the full confidence of knowing the flip side that Wheaton is a significant contributor to my enjoyment of the audio versions. He reads fast, which I like, and with a humorous tone -- call it facetious, sarcastic, smarmy, or whatever -- that is pitch perfect for this type of material.
Not that kind of book. Scalzi does pivot halfway through from a Hollywood satire about an agent dealing with actors, directors, producers, etc. (and then of course having to represent an entire alien race) to more serious issues of the Holocaust, the rights of the terminally ill, and the sanctity of individuality, but he never lets the humorous engine that drives this book sputter, so there is really nothing that is ever emotionally moving.
I loved science fiction as a kid -- the kind of space opera that kids eat up -- and have since been drawn on an intermittent basis to humorous SF (Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut, Harvey Jacobs's brilliant short story The Egg of the Glak, stuff like that). But mostly in my adult life, I gravitated toward literary fiction, and away from the SF genre (and indeed most genre novles). But there has definitely been a renaissance lately in what I believe is good, literary, and most importantly humorous science fiction writing that has brought me back -- Scalzi, Cline's Ready Player One, Christopher Moore to some extent (though he is more on the supernatural side and only sometimes science fictiony). And I would be remiss in failing to point out that audio versions of these books are a big part of that personal renaissance because they are so much fun. (I would also be remiss in failing to point out that the more serious sub-genre of teen dystopia has also been a big part of my return to SF, and that too in part in audio format).
But first, coffee.
Fun mental bubble gum. The story is quickly paced (which, let's be honest, is code for an all-plot book) and full of snark, sarcasm and deadpan one-liners. The story, while light hearted, does have some well-measured intellect for its fresh and original approach to alien contact.
The real focal point for this audiobook is Will Wheaton. He delivers the the witty repartee of the characters without breaking a sweat. His narration is the most delightful I've listened to in a while and naturally matched to sardonic attitudes of the cast of characters; which is a compliment, I promise. Well done, Mr. Wheaton!
I've listened to just about every John Scalzi novel available on Audible and I've never been disappointed. While this is billed as science fiction, it had two story lines, one decidedly sci fi and the other modern fiction. Surprisingly, I found both equally intriguing - the tale of a young Hollywood agent and a budding, superstar actress and then there's an alien race looking for representation in how to best introduce itself, politely, to Earth. It just worked!
i love John Scalzi's books but in this one he out did himself, smart funny.
Wil Wheaton is by far on of the best narrators, he did a superb job with this book.
yes it was
I went into this thinking it would be a silly but entertaining story. Silly it was (sometimes) and definitely entertaining but it turned out to be more than just those things. While I did burst out with laughter a few times, I swear there was at least one time when tears appeared in my eyes. There are moments of sadness and joy among the many humorous situations. All in all I totally enjoyed listening to this book. The reader did a great job. I will now search out more books by John Scalzi.
"Weird aliens and a good story"
Very weird aliens, catching story, a lot of fun and a surprising ending.
I always thought the aliens stories have to have a full ending. In this case however I was surprised in several ways. It was interesting what he decided to with the aliens and how he integrated them into human world and what happened in the end. The full book was an amazement from beginning till end and that in a good way. It was interesting and non-predictive till the last pages. I loved it and recommend it to every SciFi fan. :)
"My first John Scalzi selection."
I hesitated when choosing this book as I have nothing in common with the Hollywood scene in which the story is set but I wasn't disappointed.
I thought that the writing style was witty and the story well paced and easy to follow. I loved the humour as it came as much from the well constructed characters as from the situations in the story. The narration is very good too. I highly recommend this book.
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