Themes: / sci-fi / aliens /
The spacefaring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity’s first interstellar friendship. There’s just one problem: they’re hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish. So getting humanity’s trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone to help them close the deal. Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He’s one of Hollywood’s hottest young agents. But although Stein may have just concluded the biggest deal of his career, it’s quite another thing to negotiate for an entire alien race. To earn his percentage this time, he’s going to need all the smarts, skills, and wits he can muster.
If taken in a vacuum, knowing this is a novel that Mr. Scalzi wrote to see if he could, it’s pretty good. Of course things aren’t in a vacuum, and given my enjoyment of his later works, this one just isn’t as good. I liked most of the characters. The normal Scalzi snark is present, but not as funny as in his other works.
The premise itself is an amusing one. Thomas Stein is an up and coming young agent in Hollywood. He works for one of the top agency’s in L.A. His boss is probably one of the best known people in all of Hollywood. It is for that reasons that aliens contact him.
The very benign Yherajk have a problem. Despite being very peaceful, they look terrifying, and smell worse. They’ve been watching our movies and TV for years, and worry about how the human race will react. They decide they need an agent. Tom is chosen by his boss as someone who can spare the time to work the problem without being found out.
Of course things don’t go exactly as planned. Just as I was really enjoying the story, the book took a turn. It really changed the whole tone of the book for me. It went from being a light sci-fi story to something more serious, and characters I liked were pondering actions I didn’t like. Things righted themselves a bit, and the ending saved the story from going completely off the rails for me. Overall, I’d say this is one that could safely be skipped by all the biggest Scalzi fans. It’s enjoyable enough, but nothing that special.
This is the third audiobook I’ve listened to read by Wil Wheaton think it might be his best of the three. He does a much better job with voice variation for the characters in the book. Voices aren’t his strong suit, especially female voices. I still enjoy him as a narrator however.