Review: Year Zero

Year Zero: A Novel by Rob ReidRob Reid, Year Zero

Nick Carter is a midlevel associate at an intellectual property law firm. His biggest problems are lack of job security — if he doesn’t get on the partner track soon, he’ll most likely be fired — and his crush on the hot girl in his apartment building. But things get a whole lot worse for Nick when two aliens suddenly appear in his office and announce that Earth is in serious trouble. The aliens explain that Earth’s music is the most popular in the universe and that various alien species have been pirating the music at an alarming rate. Due to Earth’s copyright laws, the aliens owe us a whole lot of money — and they’re not happy about it. Can Nick use his legal knowledge and bluffing ability to save the world?

This is an extremely clever sci-fi novel whose success really depends on its premise. If the idea of aliens getting all worked up over copyright infringement appeals to you, you’ll most likely enjoy this book. Personally, I thought it was a funny and entertaining read. The satire of U.S. copyright laws and their total inability to deal with the Internet is pretty spot-on, but the book mostly focuses on silliness rather than social commentary. I loved the musical in-jokes, which mostly focus on classic rock (“year zero” to the aliens is 1977, the year in which they were first exposed to Earth music). Gotta love a universe where aliens will be reduced to a state of quivering ecstasy by hearing a Simply Red song! Anyway, as I said, if you like the premise, this one is worth a read.

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