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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 (4713 )
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Performance
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  •  
    bennettlo Seattle, Wa 04-20-13
    bennettlo Seattle, Wa 04-20-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Cute -- Worth a Credit"

    Agent to the Stars is a fun listen. I didn't love it, but it kept me entertained and was worth a credit. Wheaton does a good job with the characters and is definitely a worthwhile addition.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lauriekesmetis@hotmail.com 04-19-13
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    "Not at all as expected--Laugh Out-Loud Funny"
    What did you love best about Agent to the Stars?

    I had no expectations going in but if I had, I'm certain they wouldn't have even come close. The narration was wonderful and hit every note just right. I would say the story was abzolutely so over-the-top unbelievable but, hey, the story does take place in hollywood....So why not?!

    Witty, ascerbic, charming at times, but the big pay-off was that the agent gets to do and say all the things we would all like to do and say to all those annoying clients, customers or even family and "friends" if we thought we could get away with it.

    Yes, the ending does come together nicely (Remember this is set in Hollywood, after all), but it's still a great ride.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Agent to the Stars?

    They all involve the come-uppance of some character that is way too full of himself (or herself) and you find yourself thinking it's good to be a fly on the wall of this story.


    Which character – as performed by Wil Wheaton – was your favorite?

    Joshua--hands-down! The flat delivery of sarcasm with an alien twist, even in a moral conundrum, makes Joshua the perfect straight man.

    Wheaton is so adept at narrating this story that every character is uniquely their own. There is no hesitation for the listener to immediately identify which character is speaking,


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes! --And I did. Good thing my kids like pizza delivery. (Imagine this said in a flat and sarcastic alien tenor.)


    Any additional comments?

    I'm so glad I acted on a whim.

    The ONE thing I wish is that the language was toned down and completely without the dropping of F-bombs. I would have loved to share it with my kids.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Luke Albany, NY, United States 04-18-13
    Luke Albany, NY, United States 04-18-13 Member Since 2011

    In sales and on the road a lot. Love SciFi, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, and the occasional Non-Fiction. Funny. Opinionated.

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    "Not a great book... But fun"
    Would you listen to Agent to the Stars again? Why?

    You know what? Just maybe. As someone who doesn't reread books (exception: Ender's Game) that would normally be a straight no. As the title says though, the book was fun.


    What other book might you compare Agent to the Stars to and why?

    Scalzi has his own style, which is a solid plus. Wheaton narrating is another plus. I've read two more collaborations between them since and I'd recommend them to any nerd/geek out there.


    What does Wil Wheaton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Wheaton is solid. I'd have to say he's one of my top 2 or 3 narrators. Digging deeper into that, maybe it's confidence or comfort? The stories he reads go down smooth like Guinness and leave you wanting one after another.


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

    It would be indy and low budget with unknown or small time actors. Can't think of a good tagline though.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer BETTENDORF, IA, United States 03-31-13
    Jennifer BETTENDORF, IA, United States 03-31-13 Member Since 2015

    I travel quite a bit for work and pleasure. Audible has become my escape from the daily grind and I look forward to turning on my latest adventure every day!!

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    "Dry humor that had me laughing out loud!"
    What made the experience of listening to Agent to the Stars the most enjoyable?

    Wil Wheaton does a phenomenal job narrating - his tone and delivery are one of a kind and ideally matched for John Scalzi's story.


    What did you like best about this story?

    A one of a kind - light hearted - but truly entertaining story. The unwinding of the plot was a little hard to swallow at first, but was well worth the read. The characters are believable - and handle a science fiction plot with aplomb and dignity!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William 03-26-13
    William 03-26-13
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    "Aliens and agents in a one-dimensional novel"

    This is a mishmash of a book that doesn't know what it wants to be. It starts by suggesting that it's going to be science fiction, but then caroms into satire, social commentary, ethics, and morality, with the Holocaust thrown in just to muddy the waters further. I found that the book could never decide what it was going to be and as a result none of the forays was particularly satisfying.

    Let me be clear. It isn't science fiction, at least in the good old sense of treating issues about humanity and science that are hard to deal with in more traditional fiction. It also doesn't convey much of a sense of what the aliens are about or about alien culture.

    And just when you think the book is going to be about public relations and selling the concept of the aliens to humanity it veers off in another direction. Throw in one-dimensional characters and you have a book that I found to be unsatisfying.

    That said, the author can write. He knows how to move a plot along and uses humor well. However, just when you think it's going to be a comedy (unsuccessfully in my view) it moves into drama (or maybe even melodrama). If the characters were more than one-dimensional you might care more, but they aren't.

    The performance was good and Wheaton kept the characters separate using his voice well, except for one character whose accent can most charitably be described as unfortunate.

    Ultimately the book is a time-waster, but there are better books to waste my time with.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg Arvada, CO, United States 03-24-13
    Greg Arvada, CO, United States 03-24-13 Member Since 2009

    I listen to books on my long commute.

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    "Entertaining and fun"

    Fun, light story with good characters. Wil Wheaton as the narrator really adds life to the characters. The plot moves along quickly and doesn't really bog down until just before the end. I thoroughly enjoyed the book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shawn Barrie, Ontario, Canada 03-17-13
    Shawn Barrie, Ontario, Canada 03-17-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Funny First Contact Story, About Shared Humanity"
    What did you like best about Agent to the Stars? What did you like least?

    It was a fun romp in the first contact genre. Slightly predictable, always enjoyable, with a twist at the end talking about the humanity of all intelligent life.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Wil Wheaton has his own style and does a good job narrating the book. However, he is not accomplished enough of a voice actor to strongly differentiate his characters. But for such a light read he's a great choice.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer mount tabor, NJ United States 03-10-13
    Kindle Customer mount tabor, NJ United States 03-10-13 Member Since 2014
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    "A funny listen"
    What made the experience of listening to Agent to the Stars the most enjoyable?

    I love the mixture of Scifi and humor


    Any additional comments?

    John Scalzi does it again, funny and well written with characters you really come to care about

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ozgribbo Australia 03-03-13
    ozgribbo Australia 03-03-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Wry Sci Fi humour"

    I don't like to compare Sci Fi writers of different eras, but this is worthy of Pohl and Harrison at their best. Sci with humour is rare, and well written sci fi humour is rarer still. Wil Wheaton does a better job of this than some of his earlier efforts at performing audio.
    If "Hollywood vs aliens" with a different slant appeals, then I highly recommend this offering

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darla A. Middlebrook Moose Jaw, SK - Canada 03-01-13
    Darla A. Middlebrook Moose Jaw, SK - Canada 03-01-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Laugh out loud funny!"

    Really...I laughed out loud. Which can be embarassing when one is listening through the earbuds of an iPod while standing in line at Safeway. But, I digress. John Scalzi is rapidly becoming one of my favorite sci-fi authors and I have always liked Wil Wheaton. The Scalzi-Wheaton team have presented us with an [actually] plausible "1st contact" scenerio. I refuse to give away any plot parts. Suffice to say that "Agent to the Stars" is one that you should have in your library! Very funny, intelligent and well acted.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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