cover image Year Zero

Year Zero

Rob Reid. Del Rey, $25 (384p) ISBN 978-0-345-53441-5

Internet innovator Reid ( makes his sci-fi debut in a shaky but funny sendup of the music industry and the lawyers who feed off it. Aliens love music, but are dreadfully untalented. When they discover human music, they’re ecstatic, until they realize they’re on the hook for millions in licensing fees. Their natural plan is to destroy the Earth, but some aliens decide to recruit music lawyer Nick Carter (not the Backstreet Boy) to arrange licenses and avoid disaster. His sexy folk singer/paralegal neighbor, Manda, and his boss, Judy, also get pulled into their misadventures, which are filled with footnotes and musical references galore. Much of the satire is sharp, although how much longevity it has is debatable (sequences making fun of Microsoft Office, AT&T’s lack of coverage, and Foursquare already feel obsolete). Still, anyone frustrated by the labyrinthine and often Machiavellian machinations of the RIAA and similar groups will get plenty of laughs, and the comedy more than covers for the relatively thin characters. Agent: Alice Martell, the Martell Agency. (July)