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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

BA book review: Year Zero by Rob Reid

By Phil Plait

When I was at SXSW last month, I ran into my friend Drew. He dragged me and my friends to a party, saying this guy named Rob Reid would be there. Rob, he told me, wrote a really good scifi novel.

"Oh?" I said. "What's it about?"

Drew got a funny look on his face. He said, "I can't explain it. If I tried it would sound ridiculous, and you'd think I'm nuts. Just talk to Rob about it."

So at the party I met this Rob Reid fellow, and we hit it off immediately. He's really funny, articulate, and smart; three things I admire above almost everything else, especially in a writer.

Turns out the novel is called Year Zero, and Rob gave me the elevator pitch about it: the Universe is filled to the brim with advanced civilizations, well ahead of us in every way except one: music. Theirs is terrible, but our rock music is revered throughout the cosmos, and all these aliens have been uploading it for decades. But they also have one law above all others: to respect native laws. And we have copyright laws. Since they've been pirating our music for so long, they owe us money for all those uploaded songs. Lots of money.

All the money, it turns out.

This is a ridiculously cool premise for a satirical scifi novel! [And Drew was right; had he tried to explain it to me I would've thought he was nuts.] Rob sent me an advanced copy and I swallowed it down in about two days. I loved it. Funny, smart, silly... three things I also happen to admire in a novel.

Bottom line: recommended. Buy it and read it. Rob had a trailer made for it as well:

This book is hot off the presses: it was released today! It's available on Amazon (duh) as well as for the Kindle. I imagine you can find other flavors of booksellers, both analog and cyber, to fit your needs.

And I hope the movie rights have been secured. I'd wait in line to watch that. Rather than pirate it, of course.

[BTW, Rob gave a fantastic and very funny TED talk about copyright law. Seriously! And you know I must like his book because his talk has more views than my TED talk, that jerk.]

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