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Year Zero: A Novel Hardcover – July 10, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; First Edition edition (July 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345534417
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345534415
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.3 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (379 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


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.”
“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, 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.”
“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.”
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

About the Author

Rob Reid is the founder of, 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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Customer Reviews

In the end, the footnote problem doesn't bother me too much because the book isn't that funny.
David Brickner
I rarely laugh out loud while reading a book; this one got me to, many times... don't read this book in a quiet library.
K. Palmer
Lots of fun, very clever book with an interesting plot, the character development adds to the fun feel of the story.
Paul Reynolds

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 46 people found the following review helpful By George R. Johnson VINE VOICE on July 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I seem to be having a run of luck on SF novels these days. I don't read nearly as much as I used to. I mean, I still have favoritee authors I read, but am not as adventurous as I was in my younger days. YEAR ZERO makes about the fiurth delightful novel I've read in recent months and it's funny as all get out, something not easy to do.

This one posits a universe where human music is the most popular in the known universe. And when I say universe, I mean all of it.

Nick Carter is a lawyer for a firm that specializes in patent and copyright laws and it was a case of mistaken identity that brought the two aliens, known as Carly and Frampton, to his office. They wanted a deal to encompass all human music evr written and copyrighted and believed him to be one of the members of that GREAT band The Backstreet Boys.

As I said, loved this one. A quick read and the overriding danger to the human race is well handled. The author knows the music business well and uses it in his tale. He is the founder of and Rhapsody, the largest music selling online business until Apple's ITunes came along.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Book Sake VINE VOICE on July 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I had high hopes with this book, mostly due to the comparison to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the subject matter of music and aliens. These aliens, lots of them, have been pirating Earth's music, lots of it. Now they realize that they owe us more money than they have and some of them want to destroy Earth to stay out of bankruptcy.

The author, Rob Reid, is the genius behind, which in turn made Rhapsody - so he knows what he's talking about when it comes to pirated music. There are tons of clever quips and mentions of bands and artists from the 1970's on - most of which I was familiar with. Unfortunately none of the quips throughout the book made me laugh, chuckle, snort, or even smile.

I'll give it that there were "funny-ish" moments, but I was hoping for more intelligence with the humor. Especially considering how intelligent and well written the idea behind this legally involved plot was. This is what earns it 3/5 instead of lower in my mind.

[(This portion may only apply to the ARC eBook version I had as another reader let me know that the version they have works fine with scanning back and forth with the footnotes.) Do not, I repeat, do not read this in a digital format. Ugh, the footnotes. Each chapter has several footnotes and many are quite lengthy. If I clicked the link to go to the footnote, then I had to swipe my way to get back to where I was in the chapter, and with multiple footnotes in each chapter that was too annoying and time consuming. If I waited until the end of the chapter to read the footnote I often forgot what each one was referring to. If you are going to pick this up - do yourself a favor and get a print copy for this reason alone.]

ARC reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By JP on July 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Year Zero is a lightning fast read that will have you smiling from front to back. On the surface, it's an outside the box modern sci-fi comedy filled to the brim with witty rock n roll references, but peel back the layers a little and you have a remarkable criticism of the way the once almighty music industry has handled their battle against piracy. Throughout the story, Rob Reid does what all great science fiction should do - entertain and educate. Year Zero will appeal to a wide spectrum of book lovers, but I highly recommend this to anyone who considers themselves passionate about music. From the comically misquoted song lyrics to the heavy metals in the universe to the descriptions of unbelievably restrictive copyright laws, there's an abundance of clever references that will have you reaching for your records (or your Amazon mp3, iTunes, Rhapsody and Spotify streams) as soon as you finish the novel.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Stanley on November 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Ok, so I clearly loved this book.

I think that any negative reviews are for 2 reasons:
1) Wrong demographic
2) Wrong expectations

1) I am a 25 year old guy, who lived through the hole Napster thing, and followed closely the RIAA and other developments as they came up. The reference to this period is a large part of the book, and if you somehow weren't aware of it, if you were too young, you may not appreciate it. Also, those people who did not live through the fun times of the early windows OS, will likewise miss many of the references. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you do not know what iPhone apps are, you will, once again, miss out. So for me, I feel the book was perfect as it hit perfectly to my age group, and my interests.

2) One of the reviews compares the book to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. For reasons which I need not go into, I dislike that book, so I do not see what the problem is. In outline, they are very similar, they do have the common element of weird space aliens and space travel and a Human who gets trapped in between it all. In execution, and style of writing, the two are totally different.

I want to add that this book had me laughing out loud at times (very off if you are in public transit, or curling up in your bed), which is somewhat unusual for me. There are many books that I can mentally say to "oh that was kind of funny", but not a real, nice belly laugh like I got quite a few times here :)

Another note that I find important, is that the book is very up to date and quite factual. E.g. I checked a CRS report for congress which states "If the infringement is found to be willful, the Copyright Act permits "enhanced" statutory
damages of up to $150,000 per infringed work.
Read more ›
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