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)
Once again John Scalzi almost completely satisfies and yet once agian he disappoints.
The reason I keep trying is because I loved the first few books in his "Old Man Wars" series... but after being utterly bored by the ending of "Red Shirts" and now somewhat let down by "Agent To The Stars" I may have to give up beliving that Scalzi can maintain my interest.
Like "Red Shirts", this book have a very interesting premise and an interesting beginning but then just trails off. UNLIKE "Red Shirts", the ending doesn't drag out for a third of the book. But when listening, unlike reading, one often wishies you can skip or skim faster.
As usual Will Wheaton is wonderful. He really has that sort of snarky, frat boy, devil-may-care but "i'm really a good guy" persona down pat. However, i must say, after you are about half way through you really get tired of the one-upmanship, who-can-be-the-most sarcastic dialog Scalzi seems to thrive on.
Though it doesn't sound like it, overall I did enjoy this book. Most of the characters are interesting and engaging, the overall story is compelling. I just get frustrated when i see a fabulous idea get over shadowed by other negative issues.
YES! It was so fun and a lovely way to look at tolerance. I listened for pure fun and joy the first time, I think I'd listen more closely the second time. Plus, Wil Wheaton as the narrator was spot on - the sarcasm and wit was perfectly matched with the writer's words. I don't know if I would have been able to read it that way without Wil. It was a treat and a pleasure. I don't normally want to keep listening when I have to stop, but this one, I made reasons to keep listening.
The sarcasm and wit of the main character AND of Joshua. I loved Miranda and each that character had a purpose; even Ralph. There was no waste in any of the words written. I loved the suspense of who would do what on which moral grounds. It was a story about ethical and moral decisions displayed in an age old problem of tolerance and judgement of others. I loved it.
The scene where the journalist is relaying Michele's last thoughts and the Yherajk's disappointment yet willingness to accept Joshua's account of Michele's last thoughts as incorrect. That whole CHAPTER about how the morality unfolds was well done.
Clearly, you can't judge a book by it's cover. . . or it's smell
I just loved it.
Probably about the same. Certainly no complaints, but I never actually read the print version.
The way the story wraps up and ties everything together. It was just great.
Favorite scene was when Carl is telling Tom about Josh's 'birth'.
What if the first alien contact consisted of gelatinous smelly blobs who had watched The Blob? What if their knowledge of Earth was based on TV sitcoms and movies? What if they came quoting Yoda ("away put your weapons ...")?
This is my favorite John Scalzi story to date - so funny that I had to be careful where and when I listened so I wouldn't startle other people with unexpected bursts of laughter. There is also pathos and much food for thought. Scalzi packs a lot into the story - clueless actors demanding starring roles, the ecosystem that preys on them (agents, press, public), director/producers desperately scheming to fund a worthy project, Holocaust survivors, euthanasia, and how to introduce an alien race to the world without causing global panic.
The narrator Wil Wheaton does a superb job - the characters each have individual voices and temperaments. I first heard him narrate Ready Player One, and he was wonderful on that one too.
All in all, highly recommended.
Audiobook addict with eclectic interests.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The story went places I did not expect and the narration was excellent. Woof!
Though some of the moral debate gets a little lengthy, and the dialogue a little flippant, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It's a fun listen, and more thoughtful than I expected. It's worth a revisit for sure.
I haven't. He is a surprisingly good narrator; I look forward to hearing more recordings by Mr. Wheaton.
Not yet, but definitely will again.
He is the perfect foil to convey the borderline hysteria that fuels the Hollywood machine. Apparently Wil has narrated other Scalzi books and I would recommend this combination.
John Scalzi's debut was also his first foray into novel writing, originally posted free on his website as an e-book. With this conservative approach he has proven to be that rare combination of being a master at his craft, without the hubris that invariably accompanies it. His ability to write across genres, from sci-fi to personal finance to astronomy, while keeping the tone at once humorous, perceptive and scathing (in the nicest way), made Agent to the Stars an extremely enjoyable light read. It is not literature - it's too silly for that - but then it's not trying to be.
Science fiction rarely features in my catholic reading choices, but glowing reviews motivated me to try it out. If you are like-minded, I encourage you to sample this gem, which entertained me on a long flight. This is sci-fi lite, focusing more on the entertainment industry.There are enough other commentaries outlining plot and personalities. I echo their opinions of John Scalzi's breezy, effortless style. He doesn't preach - his injection of social commentary and opinion is decidedly palatable. The super-intelligent Yherajk, stuck in their time warp mannerisms, acquired via old sit-coms, epitomize the cheesy 50s and 60s first contact movies. Malodorous they may be, but refreshing nonetheless.
There are only two areas of criticism that I would level, if I am to be picky. The first is that everyone, including the aliens, has a similar turn of phrase and wry humor, despite a generation dividing their vernacular. The characters are rendered monochromatic and superficial.
The other is the unnecessarily repetitive "he said/she said" appended at the end of almost every sentence. With a competent narrator (such as Wil), one has the advantage of different accents or cadence to identify the characters. However, regardless of the format, if one is even halfway paying attention to the thread of dialog, it is easy to work out who is having a conversation. Trimming the excessively irritating "he said/she said" and creating discrete personalities would have elevated this to a 5* review.
Maybe. I don't plan to.
I was fond of several but Joshua as a dog was adorable.
He was terrific.Perfect.
The speech given to the aliens regarding Michelle.
I hate sci-fi but I loved this funny sweet book.
While beginning a little slow for me I really learnt to love this book as it progressed.
The plot is simple and while being a little too far fetched I really liked the idea of tackling the first encounter in a humoristic way.
The story is short and to the point. The ending is a little long but still loved it.
Sorry I was not able to listen to the whole book ... just a bit much cursing which seemed to me excessive to say the least. Maybe the author is used to this, I am not.
Haven't listen to him before, but I wonder how he was able to read through this cursing latent book.
No comment, see above.
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