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Agent to the Stars Paperback – Bargain Price, October 28, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


“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.”
--Booklist on Agent to the Stars

“If Stephen King were to try his hand at science fiction, he’d be lucky to be half as entertaining as John Scalzi.”
--Dallas Morning News on The Ghost Brigades

About the Author

John Scalzi won the 2006 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and his debut novel Old Man’s War was a finalist for science fiction’s Hugo Award. His other books include The Ghost Brigades, The Android’s Dream and The Last Colony. He has won the Hugo Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for science-fiction, the Seiun, The Kurd Lasswitz and the Geffen awards. His weblog, Whatever, is one of the most widely-read web sites in modern SF. Born and raised in California, Scalzi studied at the University of Chicago. He lives in southern Ohio with his wife and daughter.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 365 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (October 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765317710
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (266 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,272,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

112 of 119 people found the following review helpful By Kurt G. Helm on February 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
Kurt Helm's review: "Agent to the Stars" by John Scalzi

DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK unless you have eight uninterrupted hours to devote to having an incredibly good time with characters you'd like to hang out with and a plot that provides one delightful surprise after another!

"Agent to the Stars" is a break from Scalzi's highly acclaimed "Old Man's War" series with a seamless move from military sci-fi to humorous sci-fi. The plot involves a benevolent alien species, the Yherajk, that comes to help mankind. The only problem is that the Yheraji are not likely to be well received by humankind. They are frighteningly repulsive looking blobs of "space phlegm" and their main form of communication is by a variety of smells; very, very bad smells.

Our hero, Thomas Stein, is an up and coming Hollywood talent agent, still a bit low in the pecking order of his agency, who gets picked by his legendary boss to be the one to take on this alien species as their agent. His job is to "sell" these frighteningly alien blobs to the world as benefactors, not as scary invaders. Along the way the author gets to explore Hollywood hype; holocaust issues; friendship and love; family relationships; the high pressure, superficial life of a Hollywood agent; and how to deal with five gallons of rotten-smelling Jell-O slime with a 180 IQ. All of this with the snappiest dialogue since the West Wing TV show went off the air (Aaron Sorkin, eat your heart out!)

The only flaw I could find (and believe me I feel like I am picking fly-specks out of the salt by bringing this up) is that for the first chapter or two I had a little trouble keeping two of the main characters apart because of the similarity of their names (i.e., Miranda and Michelle.
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John Scalzi is such a good writer that probably even his grocery lists glow with effortless wit and narrative flow. Scalzi has already left a sizable imprint in the sci-fi world, and I guess AGENT TO THE STARS sort of falls in that genre. Scalzi demonstrates a terrific sense of humor in all his books, but the humor in this one is decidedly more pronounced. There's the precise skewering of Hollywood and a topsy-turvying of that old sci-fi chestnut: first contact with aliens. It's a really fun read.

AGENT TO THE STARS, we learn in the author's foreword, turns out to be Scalzi's "practice novel," the book he wrote to see if he could actually write one. It was first made available for the readers in Scalzi's website and eventually found its way to publication in book format. Except that the guy is so good that it doesn't at all feel like a debut novel.

The Yherajk (*not pronounced "earjack" or "earwax"*) are a friendly lot, a highly advanced alien race, and they'd like to get to know us better. For the past 70 years they've been tapping into Earth's broadcasted signals and have gotten exposed to our television shows. The Yherajk are civilized folks, but they look like gross snotty-looking gunk and they communicate by exchanging seriously foul scents, so they're well aware that humanity's first reaction probably won't be a hug. So what do they do? Do they land in front of the White House? Do they contact Earth's most renowned scientists or the League of Nations? No. They get a Hollywood agent to represent them. Which actually isn't that ridiculous a notion. Who better than a Hollywood agent to convince the masses that $#!+ don't stink? And that smelly sentient blobs may actually be the good guys?
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Monkey VINE VOICE on February 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
John Scalzi just keeps on going from Strength to Strength with his books, and Agent to the Stars is no exception in his October 2008 release. What do you do when you are an agent, who is trying to sell the public on an otherwise fine species who just happens to smell really bad and we would find them very ugly.

Scalzi takes on Hollywood and Spin Doctors in this book, as he explores the idea that the public can be sold on anything, if it is done right. This time the Yherajk have come to earth to start off a new friendship with the planet, only rather than being god like or beautiful (or even looking like angels or Satan) the alien race is just not appealing to the human sense of beauty at all. Bring on Thomas Stein who is given the task of spinning humanity and its view point to appreciate and sell the world on the Yherajk. This is not going to be easy.

This is another must read five of five stars book, entertaining, funny, and in line with the Androids Dream, this is another densely packed and vivid story that is easy to follow, laugh at, and understand/feel the people's issues. This is a stay up all night book reading, and well worth spending time with it, totally "sold".
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mr James N Simpson on March 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
I'd never heard of John Scalzi before seeing this book on a shelf. Probably as I'm no huge science fiction reader. I do however love humorous fiction and that's what appealed to me about this book, from the quote on the cover saying if "Steven King wrote Science Fiction (author of quote obviously hasn't read much of King as he has written a ton of science fiction), he'd be lucky to be half as entertaining as John Scalzi." An entertaining is an understatement for this debut novel.

This book is hilarious at times and just plain clever during the rest of the pages. The alien interaction stuff isn't where the masterpiece status lies, that comes from the Hollywood agent interactions with journalists, clients and studio heavyweights by the quick minded and witty main character Tom Stein. His interactions with a hot but self centred upherself singer named Tea Reader was nothing short of brilliant writing. Of course the main part of the plot revolves around Tom Stein being assigned by his boss who was visited by an alien representative of the alien race Yherajk, to be the public relations arm and agent for their revelation to the people of earth that we are not alone. Be an easy job you'd think, but no unfortunately these aren't the cutest creatures in the universe, they've seen through what satellites have beamed into space how movies have made aliens who look like them to always be evil aliens and know they can't just land and present themselves straight up. They also communicate through disgusting smells (although some can speak English too learnt from watching our TV and movies). The Yherajk will be Stein's biggest ever client, the fate of a whole alien species lies in his hands.
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