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Agent to the Stars Hardcover – August, 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this slick, lightweight SF yarn from Scalzi (Old Man's War), Thomas Stein, a hot young Hollywood agent, has just negotiated a multimillion-dollar deal for his friend, starlet Michelle Beck, when his boss, Carl Lupo, foists a space alien called Joshua on him. Joshua and his people, the Yherajk, are intelligent, gelatinous, shape-shifting blobs that communicate telepathically and by sharing odors. They've been monitoring Earth's TV broadcasts and realize that before they can make first contact, they'll have to deal with their image problem. Tom takes on the job of making the friendly, odiferous creatures palatable to humanity, while keeping Michelle and the rest of his other acting clients happy. Several entertaining trips to the aliens' spaceship enliven the predictable plot.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

With a plot that starts out as the rough life of a young agent in Hollywood and rapidly metamorphoses into B-movie territory as a remarkably intelligent first-contact yarn, this book is absurd, funny, and satirically perceptive. Thomas Stein has just scored a major deal for his biggest client, hot starlet Michelle Beck. Then his boss introduces a new client who is going to require more work than Stein has ever expected. Joshua is an Yjerajk, and Yjerajk communicate via smells, which are often quite unpleasant to humans. Moreover, Yjerajk are formless blobs. But they've seen enough human TV to understand that Hollywood has more impact on Earthlings than any government, and that the movies always portray nonhumanoid aliens as evil. It's going to take a lot of work to introduce Yjerajk to humans so as to emphasize their peaceful intentions and keep people from seeing them as the Blob. Fortunately, Tom is up to the challenge . . . eventually . . . with a little help--and a lot of inspiration. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean Press; Sgd Ltd edition (August 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596060204
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596060203
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,296,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

John Scalzi writes books, which, considering where you're reading this, makes perfect sense. He's best known for writing science fiction, including the New York Times bestseller "Redshirts," which won the Hugo Award for Best Novel. He also writes non-fiction, on subjects ranging from personal finance to astronomy to film, was the Creative Consultant for the Stargate: Universe television series. He enjoys pie, as should all right thinking people. You can get to his blog by typing the word "Whatever" into Google. No, seriously, try it.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a light-hearted and funny romp in the Heinlein mode that Mr. Scalzi does so well. If you missed "old Man's War", go ahead and order that one right away too; it's a classic and compulsive revisit to the golden age of Sci-fi from the fifties that you'll absolutely enjoy.

In this novel, Biz Agent to the Stars, humor and laughs abound (heck, even the title is a punny double entendre) as Thomas Stein, a Hollywood agent fresh off a huge success and feeling good about his bourgeoning career, suddenly is given the job of PR director for a race of stinky and singularly unattractive aliens. I won't give away the story elements but you can imagine the challenge of trying to make aliens that essentially communicate by farting, and that look gross to boot, into lovable characters. Thomas's challenges and adventures in his quest to put a positive spin on his new clients are hilariously fun to follow and the laughs abound.

This is an excellent, light, and funny read, devourable in one sitting, and something great to pick up and have a go at when you're in the mood for feel-good fare that will make you smile. Scalzi is an author to watch and I am struck by how much he reminds me of Heinlein, but I am almost afraid to make the comparison lest some people dismiss him as a knock-off. Scalzi is a master in his own right. His books convey his own voice, ideas and vision very clearly all while clearly paying homage to the masters who started it all.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the first novel written by John Scalzi but it is not his first published work. It was written as a "training aid" in an effort to become a novelist. He offered it basically for free on the internet. Now, with the publication of subsequent novels, his first has been offered for sale as a real book you can pick up and read. It was a worthwhile venture.

In short, it is hilarious.

The premise is of first contact with aliens. They are hideous to look at, by human standards, and smell bad also. The aliens are worried about how they will be received by humanity. Somehow, landing on the White House lawn and saying "Take me to your leader," does not strike them as the wisest course of action. They figure they need some good PR and to make a good entrance. Since most of their knowledge of earth comes from the TV signals we've been beaming into space for decades, they decide to hire a Hollywood agent.

The book take a tongue in cheek, irreverent approach to the matter. It is filled with laughs from front to back and has an occasional poignant moment as well. Hollywood is pilloried but the politicos don't come off to well either (politicians are so minor in the book as to be almost non-existent; one of the best lines is found on the last page.) I'm sorry it sat for so long in my "to be read later" pile.

I want more.
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Format: Hardcover
Tom Stein is your average up and coming Hollywood agent. He has one client, a dim witted actress who is just hitting big, and a back list of other clients who are barely worth the effort to remember their names and he would be just as happy to be rid of them for various reasons specific to each client. Tom gets his wish when his boss invites Tom into his office for a rare opportunity: The boss of the agency would like Tom to dump the bulk of his clients in order to take on a new one. While that sounds wonderful, an agent really is only as good as his client list and dumping the list is a risky move for an agent who just had his big break. But then Carl, the boss, drops the bomb. The new client is not a person. The new client is an entire alien race just making first contact with humanity. The aliens know that the best way to be accepted by humanity is to be shown in the movies in a sympathetic way and it is an agent that can make this happen.

One more thing. The aliens do not look like lassie or ET or even like the bugs from Starship Troopers. The aliens more closely resemble a pile of jello which smells like a dog's fart. But they are very friendly and wish to, well, come in peace. These aliens learned about humanity through the signals of Hollywood movies and television shows which beamed up into space. While this has caused a problem in separating fact from fiction, it has permitted several from the gelatinous mass of alien goo to learn to speak English and communicate on a level humans can understand and appreciate. Tom Stein simply needs to figure out how to best introduce the aliens, with a spokesalien named Joshua, to the world.
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Format: Hardcover
Tom Stein is a junior agent for Lupo Associates, a big firm in Hollywood. Tom has one major actress on his list of clients: Michelle Beck. A pretty, dimwitted actress who became famous because of her looks, not her acting. Everything is going normal until Carl Lupo, Tom's boss, calls Tom into the meeting room. Privately, he reveals an alien life form, named Joshua, to Tom. Joshua is a member of the Yherajk race of aliens. The Yherajk look like a glob of clear jello, they smell terrible, and they communicate with each other by releasing horrendous farts, with each smell meaning something different. Carl tells Tom that it's his job to be the Yherajk's agent, and make them seem harmless enough to introduce to the people of Earth.

The basic plotline of the book is not the strongest point of Agent to the Stars. My favorite part of the book was just when Tom was doing his job as an agent for Michelle, or Tea Reader, the no-talent, egomaniacal singer who thinks she is God's gift to men. The plot almost seemed secondary, and for the last 80 pages or so, when the plot takes over the book, I thought it went downhill. I'm fascinated by life in Hollywood, and anything that can give me a glimpse into life out there, I find addictively interesting. The book maintains a serious, yet funny and satirical perspective on the people that Tom deals with everyday, and the people he represents.

Joshua, the Yherajk who comes down to Earth, is a funny, perceptive character who can be condescendingly funny about humans, and also deeply perceptive. Joshua spends a third of the book in his own, gelatinous body, the next third in a dog's body, and the final third in a human's body.
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