Year Zero

( 29 )

Overview

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 ...
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Year Zero

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Overview

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 forty-eight hours to save humanity, while hopefully wowing the hot girl who lives down the hall from him.

“Hilarious, provocative, and supersmart, Year Zero is a brilliant novel to be enjoyed in perpetuity in the known universe and in all unknown universes yet to be discovered.”—John Hodgman, resident expert, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Science fiction takes a hilarious new turn in this novel about a workaday entertainment lawyer, two extraterrestrial visitors, and the impending bankruptcy of the entire cosmos. When aliens Frampton and Carly show up at Nick Carter's office, he first suspects that they are just pranksters, but the trick is on him. They tell him that creatures in other galaxies have grown so attached to Planet Earth music that they have been illegally downloading it for decades, only to learn recently that they must pay the rock star pipers heaps and heaps of money that they simply don't have. They enlist Carter's help, sending him off on an urgent mission to save the universe from war, mayhem, and massive court costs. John Hodgman was right when he called this fiction "hilarious, provocative, and supersmart." In the tradition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Publishers Weekly
Internet innovator Reid (Listen.com) makes his sci-fi debut in a shaky but funny sendup of the music industry and the lawyers who feed off it. Aliens love music, but are dreadfully untalented. When they discover human music, they’re ecstatic, until they realize they’re on the hook for millions in licensing fees. Their natural plan is to destroy the Earth, but some aliens decide to recruit music lawyer Nick Carter (not the Backstreet Boy) to arrange licenses and avoid disaster. His sexy folk singer/paralegal neighbor, Manda, and his boss, Judy, also get pulled into their misadventures, which are filled with footnotes and musical references galore. Much of the satire is sharp, although how much longevity it has is debatable (sequences making fun of Microsoft Office, AT&T’s lack of coverage, and Foursquare already feel obsolete). Still, anyone frustrated by the labyrinthine and often Machiavellian machinations of the RIAA and similar groups will get plenty of laughs, and the comedy more than covers for the relatively thin characters. Agent: Alice Martell, the Martell Agency. (July)
From the Publisher
Praise for Year Zero
 
“Hilarious, provocative, and supersmart, Year Zero is a brilliant novel to be enjoyed in perpetuity in the known universe and in all unknown universes yet to be discovered.”
John Hodgman, resident expert, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
 
“Reid’s extreme imagination never wanes as he builds an entire universe solely on how alien societies would react to our music and culture. Nothing is typical or obvious. Reid uses the lens of an outsider to unleash a sarcastic—and hilarious—rant on how obsessed we are with technology and greed.”
Associated Press
 
“Holy hilarity! A new force in geek humor is upon us. You’ll never think the same way again about extraterrestrials, bad music, buggy technology—or lawyers!”
Chris Anderson, TED curator
 
“I loved it. Funny, smart, silly . . . three things I also happen to admire in a novel. Bottom line: recommended. Buy it and read it.”
Phil Plait, Discover Magazine
 
Year Zero made me laugh out loud and taught me stuff about copyright infringement: It’s 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
 
“All in all, it’s a supremely fun read which will remind you how much you love science fiction comedy—and how much you hate the music industry.”
io9
 
“My pick for best (and funniest) sci-fi book of the year.”
Chris Anderson, editor in chief, Wired
 
“Hailed as this summer’s best beach read for science fiction and music geeks . . . It’s an often hilarious satire on much of current entertainment, including reality TV, the legal profession and fandom (interstellar and otherwise), but the book’s crowning achievement is that it actually makes copyright funny.”
Toronto Star
 
Year Zero is ROFLMAO funny, insightful, and sly: A sort of Hitchhiker’s Guide to our own tortured commercial/litigation culture, by way of planet Zinkiwu.”
Mark Jannot, editor in chief, Popular Science
 
“Fans of Douglas Adams will rave about this smart, funny satire. Debut novelist Reid, founder of Listen.com, has crafted a masterly plot that deftly skewers the American obsession with music, money, and power. Fast paced and original, this is highly recommended.”
Library Journal (starred review)
 
“Witty and original—I loved it. A biting satire of the record business and those who run it . . . and ultimately ran it into the ground.”
Cliff Bleszinski, creator, Gears of War
 
“With chess master precision, the refreshingly ray gun-free novel wittily plays with the possibilities of its fantastical plot. It mixes airtight point-and-counter point rounds of arguments with wild travails to distant worlds. The careful cohesion of Year Zero is a marvel given its star-hopping digressions.”
Buffalo News
 
“Smart and wacky.”
Bob Boilen, NPR’s All Songs Considered
 
“Reid . . . takes aim at many targets—technology, the music industry, hipsters—and nails them hilariously.”
Parade
 
“What if aliens heard our music—and really liked it? You could ‘what if’ for the next millennium and still not come up with as many zany scenarios as Rob Reid does in this tale of copyright law, astrophysics, biophysics, and crazy physics that hasn’t yet been invented. So sit back, hold your sides to ease the laughing pains, and find out whether Earth survives.”
Jill Tarter, director, Center for SETI Research
 
Awesome. Think Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, but with copyright law driving a major plot line. A mainstream humorous sci-fi novel that uses the Berne Convention as a key plot point and tosses aside casual references to Larry Lessig and Fark? Yes. Count me in.”
Techdirt
 
Year Zero is a brilliant satire of the American entertainment industry, and I never stopped grinning.”
Kevin Hearne, author of The Iron Druid Chronicles
 
“Light-hearted, intelligent and just plain silly . . . Year Zero is very clever and has wonderful fun with themes I think you’ll enjoy.”
Boing Boing
 
“The fun in Year Zero comes from the banter among the main characters, all of whom are well drawn and hilarious in their own right. While the novel satirizes the music industry, it’s obvious the author feels as passionately as some of the alien characters about the power of pop music.”
Shelf Awareness
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345534415
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/10/2012
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Rob Reid is the founder of Listen.com, which created the Rhapsody service, the world’s largest seller of online music until it was eclipsed (rather badly, he’ll admit) by Apple’s iTunes service. He is the author of Year One, a memoir about student life at Harvard Business School, and Architects of the Web, a business history of the Internet. He lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife, Morgan.
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Read an Excerpt

9780345534415|excerpt

Reid / YEAR ZERO

ONE

ASTLEY

Even if she’d realized that my visitors were aliens who had come to our office to initiate contact with humanity, Barbara Ann would have resented their timing. Assistants at our law firm clear out at five-­thirty, regardless—­and that was almost a minute ago.

“I don’t have anyone scheduled,” I said, when she called to grouse about the late arrival. “Who is it?”

“I don’t know, Nick. They weren’t announced.”

“You mean they just sort of . . . turned up at your desk?” I stifled a sneeze as I said this. I’d been fighting a beast of a cold all week.

“Pretty much.”

This was odd. Reception is two key-­card-­protected floors above us, and no one gets through unaccompanied, much less unannounced. “What do they look like?” I asked.

“Strange.”

“Lady Gaga strange?” Carter, Geller & Marks has some weird-­looking clients, and Gaga flirts with the outer fringe, when she’s really gussied up.

“No—­kind of stranger than that. In a way. I mean, they look like they’re from . . . maybe a couple of cults.”

From what? “Which ones?”

“One definitely looks Catholic,” Barbara Ann said. “Like a . . . priestess? And the other one looks . . . kind of Talibanny. You know—­robes and stuff ?”

“And they won’t say where they’re from?”

“They can’t. They’re deaf.”

I was about to ask her to maybe try miming some information out of them, but thought better of it. The day was technically over. And like most of her peers, Barbara Ann has a French postal worker’s sense of divine entitlement when it comes to her hours. This results from there being just one junior assistant for every four junior lawyers, which makes them monopoly providers of answered phones, FedEx runs, and other secretarial essentials to some truly desperate customers. So as usual, I caved. “Okay, send ’em in.”

The first one through the door had dark eyes and a bushy beard. He wore a white robe, a black turban, and a diver’s watch the size of a small bagel. Apart from the watch, he looked like the Hollywood ideal of a fatwa-­ shrieking cleric—­until I noticed a shock of bright red hair protruding from under his turban. This made him look faintly Irish, so I silently christened him O’Sama. His partner was dressed like a nun—­although in a tight habit that betrayed the curves of a lap dancer. She had a gorgeous tan and bright blue eyes and was young enough to get carded anywhere.

O’Sama gazed at me with a sort of childlike amazement, while the sister kept it cool. She tried to catch his eye—­but he kept right on staring. So she tapped him on the shoulder, pointing at her head. At this, they both stuck their fingers under their headdresses to adjust something. “Now we can hear,” the nun announced, straightening out a big, medieval-­looking crucifix that hung around her neck.

This odd statement aside, I thought I knew what was happening. My birthday had passed a few days back without a call from any of my older brothers. It would be typical of them to forget—­but even more typical of them to pretend to forget, and then ambush me with a wildly inappropriate birthday greeting at my stodgy New York law office. So I figured I had about two seconds before O’Sama started beatboxing and the nun began to strip. Since you never know when some partner’s going to barge through your door, I almost begged them to leave. But then I remembered that I was probably getting canned soon anyway. So why not gun for YouTube glory, and capture the fun on my cellphone?

As I considered this, the nun fixed me with a solemn gaze. “Mr. Carter. We are visitors from a distant star.”

That settled it. “Then I better record this for NASA.” I reached across the desk for my iPhone.

“Not a chance.” She extended a finger and the phone leapt from the desk and darted toward her. Then it stopped abruptly, emitted a bright green flash, and collapsed into a glittering pile of dust on the floor.

“What the . . . ?” I basically talk for a living, but this was all I could manage.

“We’re camera shy.” The nun retracted her finger as if sheathing a weapon. “And as I mentioned, we’re also visitors from a distant star.”

I nodded mutely. That iPhone trick had made a believer out of me.

“And we want you to represent us,” O’Sama added. “The reputation of Carter, Geller & Marks extends to the farthest reaches of the universe.”

The absurdity of this flipped me right back to thinking “prank”—­albeit one featuring some awesome sleight of hand. “Then you know I’ll sue your asses if I don’t get my iPhone back within the next two parsecs,” I growled, trying to suppress the wimpy, nasal edge that my cold had injected into my voice. I had no idea what a parsec was, but remembered the term from Star Wars.

“Oh, up your nose with a rubber hose,” the nun hissed. As I was puzzling over this odd phrase, she pointed at the dust pile on the floor. It glowed green again, then erupted into a tornado-­like form, complete with thunderbolts and lightning. This rose a few feet off the ground before reconstituting itself into my phone, which then resettled gently onto my desk. That refuted the prank theory nicely—­putting me right back into the alien-­believer camp.

“Thank you very kindly,” I said, determined not to annoy Xena Warrior Fingers ever, ever again.

“Don’t mention it. Anyway, as my colleague was saying, the reputation of Carter, Geller & Marks extends to the farthest corner of the universe, and we’d like to retain your services.”

Now that I was buying the space alien bit, this hit me in a very different way. The farthest corner of the universe is a long way for fame to travel, even for assholes like us. I mean, global fame, sure—­to the extent that law firms specializing in copyright and patents actually get famous. We’re the ones who almost got a country booted from the UN over its lax enforcement of DVD copyrights. We’re even more renowned for our many jihads against the Internet. And we’re downright notorious for virtually shutting down American automobile production over a patent claim that was simply preposterous. So yes, Earthly fame I was aware of. But I couldn’t imagine why they’d be hearing about us way out on Zørkan 5, or wherever these two were from.

“So, what area of the law do you need help in?” I asked in a relaxed, almost bored tone. Feigning calm believably is a survival tactic that I perfected as the youngest of four boys (or of seven, if you count our cousins, who lived three doors down. I sure did). It made me boring to pick on—­and useless as a prank victim, because I’d treat the damnedest events and circumstances as being mundane, and entirely expected. It had also helped me immensely as a lawyer (although by itself, it had not been enough to make me a successful one).

Sister Venus gave me a cagey look. “It’s sort of . . . an intellectual property thing.”

“Of course,” I said. “Is it media? Patents? Trademark?”

“It’s kind of a . . . music thing.” She and O’Sama exchanged a furtive look.

“I see. Is it related to royalty payments? Piracy?”

Now O’Sama jumped into the action. And I mean that literally—­he leapt to his feet, and practically screamed in my face. “Who said anything about piracy?”

The nun hit him with a lethal glare. “Zip it,” she hissed. He plunked right back into his chair, giving her a hurt, sullen, but obedient look. Impressive, I thought. It was like seeing that dog whisperer guy make a pit bull back down.

“I do have an extensive background in music law,” I said, clenching my nose to stop the sneeze molecules from breaking out.

Sister Venus rolled her eyes. “No duh, Mr. Carter. We’ve done our homework.”

Well, yes, up to a point. True, they’d chosen a fine law firm from an impressive distance. But I was beginning to suspect that they had mistaken me for the Carter in Carter, Geller & Marks, rather than a lowly associate who happened to have the same last name as the founding partner. And did she seriously just say no duh?

“Also,” O’Sama added breathlessly, “we simply adore ‘Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely,’ and every one of your other songs.”

“Excuse me?” I asked.

But I knew exactly what he was talking about. And if you’re a woman born between the years 1984 and 1988, you probably do, too. Otherwise, you’re hopefully only faintly aware of the Backstreet Boys—­the vilest confection ever to emerge from a “boy band” factory. Like me, one of their alleged singers is named Nick Carter. He’s two years my junior, so I was here first. And I got as far as age twenty-­one with a wonderfully anonymous name. Then Nick and the boys unleashed an abomination called Millennium that sold more than forty million copies. I still get about a dozen Backstreet Boys jokes per week.

That said, something told me O’Sama wasn’t joking. He just seemed too . . . earnest. “I do not have, never have had, and never will have any relationship whatsoever with the Backstreet Boys,” I said, hoping to forever banish the topic from the intergalactic agenda.

“Really?” O’Sama’s obvious devastation confirmed that he had been completely serious.

Sister Venus gave him a shocked look. “You didn’t honestly think—­”

And that’s when we got Rickrolled. If you’re not familiar with the aging prank, it’s a sonic ambush that causes you to hear a snippet of Rick Astley’s foppish late eighties hit, “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Rickrolling had its heyday during the late Bush era. But like bell-­bottoms, it stages occasional resurgences, and we were in the midst of one. I figured that the culprit was my unattainably gorgeous neighbor, Manda Shark. We’d had drinks the night before, and at some point she must have slyly changed my phone’s primary ringtone. And now someone was calling, filling my office with that cheesy chorus.

Normal reactions to Rickrolls range from eye rolls to ironic sing-­alongs. But my visitors started trembling, almost convulsing. And as they clung to their chairs for support, they took on an ecstatic air that was almost smutty. I instinctively grabbed my phone and muted the ringer.

“Big . . . music fans?” I ventured as they calmed down.

The nun nodded, catching her breath. “Almost any of your music can prompt that sort of reaction from us. Which is why we chose outfits with headdresses. They conceal devices that can completely silence our hearing when we’re not in a sealed room, to protect us from the ambient music that fills the public spaces in your society.”

O’Sama reached a finger under his turban and made a flicking gesture. “You see, I can’t hear a thing now,” he bellowed, then flicked his finger back the other way.

“Then I better change a setting on my computer,” I said, sliding over to my keyboard. “Otherwise it’ll play some Michael Bolton whenever an email comes in.” That was a lie. Neither of them could see my monitor, and I was actually launching the software that I use to record depositions and other interviews. If they wouldn’t let me shoot the meeting on my cellphone, an audio recording would be better than nothing. “Anyway. You know my name. Do you mind if I ask for yours?”

“You can call me Carly,” the nun said.

I nodded agreeably, although I’d been hoping for something a bit more exotic.

The mullah smiled gently. “And you can call me Frampton.”

“Pleased to meet you both. So anyway—­it sounds like you’re big music fans. And you need representation. In what specific ways can Carter, Geller & Marks be helpful?”

Carly leaned toward me, almost conspiratorially. “We need a license to all of humanity’s music. One that will allow . . . a rather large number of beings to play it. Privately and in public. And to copy it. And to transmit it, share it, and store it.”

Decades of marveling at Hollywood aliens hadn’t prepared me for this dry request. But my career at a sharp-­elbowed copyright and patent law firm absolutely had. “That should be feasible,” I said, managing to sound like Carly was the third extraterrestrial to make this request today. “And exactly what music are you seeking licenses to?” I struggled not to sniffle as I said this. I failed.

“Every song that’s been played on New York–­area radio since 1977. Or has ever been sold or widely traded on the Internet.”

“That would be . . . complicated, but quite manageable.” This thigh-­slapper came straight from my firm’s equiva- lent of a cunning marketing script. The partnership owes much of its lavish income to conversations that begin a lot like this one (albeit with Earthlings). A prospective client imagines that our music-­saturated society must surely have a rational and well-­defined set of rules governing music licensing. They come to us because we famously know everyone in the industry. So naturally, we can get them their licenses in a trice—­right?

You’d think. But music licensing is an arcane thicket of ambiguity, overlapping jurisdictions, and litigation. This is a disastrous situation for musicians, as well as for music fans and countless businesses. In fact, it suits absolutely nobody—­apart from the cynical lawyers who run the music labels, the lobbying groups, the House, the Senate, and several parasitic law firms like my own. Collectively, we are wholly empowered to fix the entire mess. But that would result in a needless loss of extravagantly high-­paying legal work for all. So we indignantly denounce the situation to our respective patrons, wave our fists at each other in public, and then privately chuckle slyly over drinks.

In this environment, conversations with prospective clients need to be handled delicately. You don’t want them to look back later and think that you were overpromising in a no-­win situation. But you certainly don’t want to talk them out of attempting the impossible.

“Why would it be complicated?” Carly asked. “Is it . . . hard to get this sort of music license?”

“No, I wouldn’t say hard.” This part of the pitch calls for offering some misleading relief. But as I started to deliver it, I recalled with a pang that the firm was about to trim some deadwood, and that I was a likely victim. They didn’t hate me around here; I just wasn’t viewed as being partner material, and would probably be shown the door within weeks. So why should I loyally push their greedy agenda until the bitter end? Particularly to a pair of extraterrestrials who probably lacked American currency anyway?

Carly tugged impatiently at her crucifix. “So, if it’s not hard, what is it?”

“Utterly impossible,” I said, with the reckless swagger of the noble corporate renegade that I’m not. “You can get close to a license as sweeping as that. But it’ll cost you a fortune. And it’ll take months at best—­more likely years. And once you think you’re done, there will always be lots of loose ends. Thousands at least. Ones that people can sue you over. And when they do, your defense could drag on for years—­at four to nine hundred dollars per billable hour.”

“But what if we want a license for places where no rational person would expect any of your music to ever sell, or even be played?” she pressed.

“Like where?”

At this, Frampton got to his feet and leaned across my desk. “The far side of the Townshend Line,” he intoned, with the gravitas of a wizard invoking dungeons deep and caverns old.

Carly glared at him. “How would he know about the Townshend Line? You and I are the only beings who have ever crossed it.” She turned back to me. “The damn thing’s completely overrated anyway.”

“Completely,” Frampton agreed, retaking his seat.

“Anyway,” Carly continued. “We want a license to regions that your record labels can’t possibly care about. Specifically, all points one hundred forty-­four light-­years beyond your solar system.”

Frampton stretched his arms wide. “That’s over a hundred trillion times the distance from here to Staten Island!”

“I'm afraid the music industry actually cares immensely about even the remotest markets,” I said. “In fact, almost every contract that it generates contains language like this.” I picked up a document at random from my desk and gazed at it. “ ‘The terms of this contract shall apply past the end of time and the edge of Earth; all throughout the universe; in perpetuity; in any media, whether now known, or here- after devised; or in any form, whether now known, or hereafter devised.’ ” I actually know this clause by heart, and can reel it off like a cop reciting the Miranda rights. But unless I pretend to read it from a document, people think I must be joking.

A brief, gloomy silence followed. “Well, if that’s the case,” Carly finally said, “it’ll be a lot harder than we thought to save your melodious asses.”

Save our asses? “From what?” It took every bit of self-­control that I’d honed as a kid at the bottom of the testosterone pyramid to say this with professional calm.

“Self-­destruction,” Frampton said grimly.

“Yeah,” Carly said, then mimed ironic quotation marks with chilling enthusiasm. “Self-­destruction.”

“Oh, that,” I said languidly, while teetering on the brink of terror. “But why come to me about this?”

Carly’s testy façade dropped, and admiration flitted briefly across her face. “Because we need to enlist the greatest copyright attorney on Earth. If not . . . the universe.”

I allowed myself to savor the sound of this for a few moments. But there was no sense in pretending they had the right guy. “Then you really ought to talk to Frank Carter, who started the firm back in the seventies. Old guy, rich as hell. Sits in a huge corner office two floors up. Although he only comes in about once a month these days. No relation to me, I’m afraid.”

Carly looked horrified. Frampton looked terrified. She pointed at me and fixed him with a murderous look. “I thought you said he ran the firm.”

Frampton quaked. “I thought he did.”

Carly paused, apparently putting two and two together. Then, “No, you thought he was a Backstreet Boy, and were looking for any excuse to meet him!”

“Well—­not entirely.”

Carly looked like she might hit him.

“Because there’s the firm’s name! It’s Carter. And something, and something!” Frampton pointed at me. “Nick Carter!”

“You honestly thought a Backstreet Boy was moonlighting as a lawyer?”

“As a music lawyer!”

“Seriously?”

Frampton just grinned obsequiously and gave her a terrified shrug.

Carly turned her withering gaze to me. “Why doesn’t anybody ever tell me anything?” she demanded, as if I was part of some conspiracy.

I shrugged neutrally and turned to Frampton, angling to keep the spotlight on him.

Carly kept staring me down. “Mr. Carter,” she continued, after reining in her outrage somewhat. “How senior are you around here?”

“Well, it’s hard to say exactly. But out of a hundred and thirty attorneys, for now I’m probably . . .” I thought for a moment. “Top hundred?”

Frampton cringed further. Carly glowered as if I’d somehow arranged all of this just to spite her. “In that case,” she said, “it seems that my colleague and I have pulled you into deadly waters that are well over your head.”

Whatever you might think, it’s no fun when aliens talk about drowning you, even metaphorically. “But luckily there’s a lifeguard out there, and his name is Frank Carter,” I said brightly. “His old assistant has all of his contact info. So why don’t we track him down and pass the baton to him?”

“Because it sounds like he’s retired, and probably half senile,” Carly snapped. “And besides, we don’t have time. The gateway back to our planet closes in one minute. If we don’t leave before then, we’ll be stuck here with you for almost a day before it opens again. And I don’t think you want that.”

You got that right, I thought. In fact, I wanted nothing to do with these extraterrestrial freaks. Ever. “Well, then,” I chirped. “We better get you into that gateway of yours pronto, huh?”

Carly shook her head. “We still have forty-­nine seconds. And we need to arrange our next encounter with you, because it looks like you’re all we’ve got. The gateway will re-­open for roughly twenty minutes tomorrow morning. Since you’ve now met us, we won’t need to come in person. Instead, we’ll connect to an Earth-­based dataspace. You will meet us there. And you will need these.”

She held up a set of pink, wraparound safety lenses. They looked a lot like the odd specs that Bono always wears.

“They have been specially built to interface with one of your primitive computers. We will teleport this pair to you tomorrow at eleven oh-­three a.m., and simultaneously email you instructions for joining us in the dataspace exactly three minutes later. Frampton and I will now exit by way of a Wrinkle. Don’t be alarmed.”

“By way of a what?”

“A Wrinkle,” she said. And then added enigmatically, “The universe is pleated.”

And that was when I finally sneezed—­while making a botched effort to rein it in, which only made it sound like I was gagging on a pool ball.

“We could probably help you get over that cold,” Carly said, cocking an eyebrow. And with that, the two of them knelt to the floor and bent low, as if praying toward Mecca. Then, in the course of about three seconds, they faded entirely from sight.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Definitely Needs a Sequel!

    Year Zero a sc-fi novel by Rob Reid is a hysterical Hitnchhiker's Guide-esque novel about the Earth's music industry. It seems that aliens all over the universe are totally head over tentacles about the Earth's music. This book had me laughing out loud. The characters were very "human" and well developed. The plot was crazy but almost believable. The descriptions of alien life forms, worlds and cultures hit a bit too close to home. If you love sarcasm you will love this book. If you know the answer to life, the universe, and everything then this is the book for you. If your favorite cocktail is the trans-galactic gargle blaster then you should run right out and find a copy of this book. Year Zero needs a sequel. What kind of fate can the Earthlings inflict on the universe next?

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2012

    The Hitchhiker's Guide to Copyright Law

    Overall:
    An enjoyable book that with some great one liners, and some meh moments.

    The Good:
    A well written book with a good plot and great comedic elements.

    The Bad:
    Heavy on 'in' jokes. Has foot notes at then end of each chapter, which don't translate well to the nook.

    The Ugly:
    A stretch in the middle in a Douglas Adams style you will either love or loathe.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 28, 2012

    I just finished this book and I honestly don't know where to beg

    I just finished this book and I honestly don't know where to begin. It
    starts out with an *excellent* premise and then just falls completely
    flat on everything else. Beyond the premise, there's nothing good about
    this book. It's terribly written, the characters are unbelievable, the
    aliens are bland, and the humor is almost non-existent. The real kick
    in the face is the last chapter where you realize you just wasted all
    this time for a 20 year old bad joke. First off, the premise is quite
    good. It's quarky in a way that reminds you of Hitchhiker's Guide to
    the Galaxy. Thirty years ago aliens discovered Earth music. These
    aliens value music above all else and Earth music was the most fantastic
    thing they've ever heard, so fantastic that every single civilized alien
    started listening to all of it. Thirty years later, this means that
    every alien for the last thirty years has pirated all Earth music and
    every alien owes all the citizens of Earth more money than anyone could
    every imagine. Excellent premise! Sadly though, the good stops
    there. First, there are the human characters. I know it's silly to
    gripe about believability in a Sci-Fi novel, but the humans in this book
    just don't act like any person ever would. When confronted with aliens
    or an alien conspiracy, a person would act a certain way, not how they
    act in this book. It's ridiculous in a really bad and distracting way.
    Next are the aliens. It's almost like the author decided to take
    Hitchhiker's and turn it up to eleven but really the worlds and the
    inhabitants just come off as bland. The author tries so hard to make
    these outrageous zany things that they actually come off as completely
    unimaginative. Oh, haha, it's an alien that looks like a vacuum and he
    doesn't like to be called a vacuum cleaner but he cleans anyways.
    Ooooo, you mean the characters can ride in an invisible taxi? Wow, you
    can take a snooze fest through the center of the planet? Ugh, every
    single alien oddity and encounter just came off as boring and I wanted
    to skip ahead to the next page every time the author started describing
    anything alien. So I guess that brings us to the writing. Robert H
    Reid is just a bad writer. His characters aren't endearing or
    interesting in any way at all. There's not one character in the book I
    felt anything for and I finished the book maybe an hour ago and I'm
    already having trouble remembering most of their names. It's like
    someone took The Expendables and then said that was too smart. Finally,
    there's the end. I won't spoil it for people but after reading the last
    chapter I seriously sat with my head in my hands for five minutes trying
    to digest what I just read, trying to understand the people that liked
    the book, and trying to understand why I wasted the time to finish the
    book. The entire book, THE ENTIRE BOOK, is one long setup for a joke
    that was barely funny 20 years ago and has been done to death since
    then. Internet cat jokes seem fresh compared to this. After my
    mini-breakdown I seriously tried to figure out how I might go about
    getting my money back for this awful book. Oh, and if all that isn't
    bad enough, the book also sets itself up for many sequels. Because, you
    know, the world is just so interesting. Ugh.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2014

    An enjoyable read

    No, it's not another "Hitchhikers". But it was a fun read. If you can't read for fun occasionally, then you're boring, and who gives a rats ass about your banal comments anyway?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2012

    Great geek beach read!

    Just plain techno fun! Goofy, unreal and entirely escapist while still managing to be interesting comentary on our legal system.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2014

    Entertaining

    Good alien story, not gonna win any awards but who cares? It was an entertaining story. I loved the main character's boss Judy. So over the top, that was the joke! I liked the way the author poked fun at government workers. Would read more from this author.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2013

    Awesome read

    A wild ride that I thoroughly enjoyed, end notes and all. Rob Reid did an excellent job poking fun at the music industry and the ridiculousness of current copyright law. It was well paced. It was funny. It was a good length (so many books today are overly long). I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes SF, music and wants a good laugh. If you like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy you'll like this.

    The eBook was formatted well with no obvious errors.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2013

    Io

    Yu

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 18, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    We got ourselves a problem. A huge problem. Well, a worldly hu

    We got ourselves a problem.

    A huge problem.

    Well, a worldly huge problem.

    The Aliens are here.

    The Aliens love our music.

    The Aliens have been stealing our music.

    Now they need someone to help them, and it seems it's Nick Carter. No not the Backstreet Boys singer
    Nick Carter, but legal counsel Nick Carter for Music industries seems to fit for the Aliens.

    The World is doomed!!!!!

    A funny, hilarious take on the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book and another great alien may be
    dumber than we think book!! I kind of liked it. Took a while to get into it, but I finished it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2013

    Favorite book

    I wish he would write more this is such a witty fun read

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013

    Close, but not quite there

    After many favorable comparisons to Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide I bought this book. It didn't live up to such high praise.

    It's not bad, but not that good either. The main premise is great and has humor in it, but the details are glossed over and events in the book are handled a bit clumsily. Most characters handle the discovery of alien life very well with a shrug and a statement like, "Aliens? Well OK then, we'll change plans."

    Even with the humor the author works in a good deal of his personal opinions on US copyright laws, and they add little or nothing to the book. While I even agree with much of what he has to say on the subject, it just feels shoehorned into the narrative.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2013

    Loved it

    Very funny

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Two stars for creativity - he just needs to direct it better

    I truly tried to get 'into' this novel but I just could not do it.
    I like humor, I like fantasy, and I like science fiction if it is written well.
    The characters were introduced very sporadically, the humor reminded me of attempts at a surreal type of comedy. The profanity and sexual slurs ranked it as adult reading.
    The alien universe felt earth was useless except for music they wanted to legally utilize throughout the universe. Different strange forms kept invading the lawyer they chose to work with. It brought him positive attention from the opposite sex and his firm for awhile.
    He kept 'playing along' different creatures from competing planets.
    I read several chapters but I couldn't find any real plot or meaning that would keep one's interest.
    I won this in a giveaway but I am sorry to say I cannot give a better rating.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2012

    Skip it.

    This book is awful. Boring and pointless. I hated every page of it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2012

    Funny but just "OK"...

    I don't know what to say except I liked the plot, the writing is good and the humor is outstanding but I still finished thinking "Hmm, that book was just OK". It's entertaining but if you're looking for a "really good book"...I suggest you keep looking.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2012

    Mildly entertaining

    Certainly not a bad novel but felt like he was just trying too hard for the laughs.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2012

    Excellent

    Wonderful book, absolutely hilarious and has an incredibly in depth plot.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews

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