Buy Greg Costikyan's book. This book, another book, any book that finds its way into print from the depths of this man's marvelously weird little noggin. Gamers should already know Costikyan well: ignoring his fingerprints on a score of other games, this top-shelf designer created the Star Wars RPG
, 1984's classic Toon
(with props to Warren Spector), the unbelievably wonderful Paranoia
(regrettably, long out of print), and the guy still keeps up his chops with the likes of Violence: The Roleplaying Game of Egregious and Repulsive Bloodshed
In First Contract, Costikyan has resurrected an idea from some long-forgotten shoebox, a novella originally titled "Sales Reps from the Stars." A savvy CEO, a power-suit-wearing, proper Indian businessman by the name of Johnson Mukerjii, gets screwed by an alien invasion. The ETs want to do business, except we're the Aztecs and they're the Spaniards, and we can kiss our gold good-bye. But Mukerjii, after losing everything--his millions, his San Jose manse, his leggy wife--figures out how to beat the aliens at their own game in a characteristically Costikyan way: by producing exports in the form of cheesy, shoddily constructed spaceship beverage accoutrements:
"Made in Japan," "Made in Taiwan," and now--I gestured grandly--"Made on Earth."
Fans of imaginative fiction would do well to keep tabs on Costikyan. --Paul Hughes
From Publishers Weekly
While some varieties of SF aliens have peaceful motives when they arrive on Earth, many are intent on hostile takeovers. The plan of Costikyan's aliens is particularly sinister: to drive all success, love and financial solvency from Johnson Mukerjii's life by flooding the Earth market with their superior technological junk. At least, that is how Mukerjii, the hero who narrates with an endearing braggadocio and swagger familiar to SF fans, sees it. It all starts when the first contract between an alien race and the United Nations sees the advanced civilization's entire knowledge base traded for an apparently useless piece of real estateAJupiter. This turns out to be as terrible a mistake as selling Manhattan island off for a few beads. (Using Jupiter's resources, the aliens build gadgets such as hover cars that fly at Mach 6, objects far beyond the grasp of Earth entrepreneurs.) Earth's economy bottoms out, dragging our hero into the sewers with it (almost literally). Ever the optimist and networker, however, Mukerjii swindles his way to funds so he can develop a product and secure a new contract that will take him back to the top. Costikyan's tale is bouyant and fun, despite having little new to offer. Mukerjii remains appealing throughout, never loses his somewhat dubious dignityAi.e., using surplus food, some of which is labeled unfit for humans, to prepare odd variations of the gourmet meals he was used toAas he fights valiantly against a world out to get him. Readers will take him to heart. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.