You know I’m a sucker for interesting book covers. How could I resist a book cover featuring an alien wearing headphones? Have you read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy? Like humorous science fiction? If so, Year Zero by Rob Reid is going to be exactly what you’ve been looking for. I initially got a digital advance copy of Year Zero but the publisher graciously offered to send me a paper copy. I’m paying it forward by hosting a giveaway for the paper copy. That means one lucky reader will win an advance readers copy (ARC) of Year Zero! Whoot!
The universe is filled with advanced civilizations, civilizations far more advanced than the ones on Earth. They excel at all kinds of things and are quick to point that out to anyone who might think otherwise. There is really only one thing that they aren’t good at, music. It’s sad but true.
“Aliens suck at music. And it’s not for a lack of trying. They’ve been at it for eons, but have yet to produce even a faintly decent tune. If they had, we’d have detected them ages ago.”
So in 1977, a year that became known as Year Zero all across the universe, a TV signal for Welcome Back Kotter was intercepted and the rest, as they say, was history. Aliens had discovered Earth music. They were overjoyed! Word about it and the music itself quickly spread all the way to the far reaches of the universe. And they quickly became completely and totally hooked, sharing all of the music they could find with each other. It was amazing to watch happen.
“Countless Refined beings perished before the new era was even a minute old. The delight triggered by the Kotter song released so much endorphin-like goo in their brains that they hemorrhaged, bringing on immediate, ecstatic death….Others died from neglecting sleep, meals, or bathroom breaks as they obsessively replayed the Kotter theme over the ensuing weeks.”
“But with every deadly new discovery, the survivors got a bit hardier. Kotter was like an inoculation that toughened everyone up for Olivia Newton-John, who in turn prepared the cosmos for Billy Joel. So as the music got marginally less awful, the mortality rate paradoxically dropped. And by the time they started exploring the FM frequencies, most Refined beings were ready for what they found…The last big die-off occurred when WPLJ broadcast both sides of Led Zeppelin IV. And anyone who survived that had what it took to safely listen to even the most stellar rock ‘n’ roll.”
Of course, we on Earth had no idea. We knew our music was good but we didn’t know it was that good. Hell, we didn’t even know any of those civilizations existed. Now all of that is about to change. You see, civilizations across the universe were appalled to discover that they owe us humongous royalties for all the music they’ve been pirating, err sharing, over the decades. Uh oh.
Frampton and Carly have arrived on Earth to discuss this situation with music copyright attorneys. If the aliens pay all the fines and penalties they’ve calculated they owe, it will bankrupt the entire universe. Surely something can be worked out, right? Obviously the rest of the universe has not had any contact with our music industry if they believe that.
Sensing an intergalactic scandal, his law firm, Carter, Geller & Marks, decides to hand the whole mess over to Nick Carter because they know they’re going to need a scapegoat and Nick would make a great candidate. Even though he’s afraid of heights, Nick does know his copyright law and he has a couple of other tricks up his sleeve.
“’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.’…
‘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 hereafter devised.’”
“I used to think English-speaking aliens who conveniently look, dress, and act human only turned up in lazy science fiction. But as Carly and Frampton dematerialized, I became grimly aware of how well they’d also fit into a psychotic hallucination…And even if I turned out to be entirely sane – well then, great, it meant that an alien advance party was suddenly nosing around our planet. Worse, they were lawyering up.”
There’s one teeny, tiny problem. The citizens of the universe will not stand for becoming bankrupt just because they’ve been downloading music, and things are about to get very ugly for Earth. Nick’s only got 48 hours to save mankind from some very angry aliens who’ve decided destroying the planet is far preferable to becoming bankrupt. With Frampton and Carly as his intergalactic guides, what looks highly unlikely could become downright impossible.
Oh and as if that weren’t enough, Nick has love life issues. He’s crushing something awful on his cute neighbor. Sigh.
Nick is everyman or every attorney, depending on how you look at it. He’s been given an impossible job with an impossible deadline – what else is new? Frampton and Carly are well-meaning aliens who really want him to succeed for many reasons but they’re kind of like an intergalactic Frick and Frack. They actually believe Nick is one of the Backstreet Boys because of his name, despite all of his assurances to the contrary. Last but not least, the various life forms Nick encounters on his journey to resolve this issue range from the weird to the absurd, and many times both at the same time.
Rob Reid founded Listen.com, which created the online Rhapsody music service, which was eclipsed by iTunes. I tell you all this so you’ll know the man has Internet music chops. He’s also got some great writing chops. He has crafted a hilarious book that will appeal to music fans, folks still steaming over having to pay all those download royalty fees, and above all humorous scifi fans. I laughed so hard I cried. And one of you is going to win a copy! Can’t get any better than that!
Can’t wait to read it?
Year Zero was published on July 10, 2012, so it should be available from your favorite bookseller below. Just click the button below to go there to get it.
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One lucky reader will win an ARC of Year Zero by Rob Reid!
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 8/11/2012, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
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