Nick Carter is a low level attorney at the firm Carter, Geller & Marks, working in the entertainment division. Unfortunately he is not related to the Carter the firm is named after, and even more unfortunately, shares an identical name with a Backstreet Boy. However it is being mistaken as a boy band member, which leads two extraterrestrials to his office at closing time asking for his help in a legal matter, and, uh... saving the world.
The universe is teeming with intelligent sophisticated life, and their culture and art forms outstrip most of what humanity can do. They have authors that make Shakespeare's works sound like Beavis and Butthead, architecture that makes the Taj Mahal, look like a beat down outhouse and the Mona Lisa look like monkey feces smeared on a wall.. The one thing we lowly humans have the edge over everyone else in the universe, is our musical ability. The title Year Zero refers to the first initial contact with our superior audio skills. A stray signal of the Welcome Back Kotter theme escaped into space, which caused some alien heads to explode from sheer delight. Literally.
So over the years, they have been recording our transmissions, obsessively listening, cataloging, debating, living and breathing Earth music. Then they took a closer look at our culture, and that's when the problem started. According to the rules of cultural sharing in the universe, an art form must adhere to an original culture's guidelines. For example, the species that created the finest stained glass in the universe, never used the color red, so practitioners of stained glass artwork never use red anymore. So when the rest of the universe delved into the cultural guidelines for Earth's recorded works that they have been gathering, discovering the pitfalls of intellectual property and copyright law:
“...that's when it hit them. They owed us an ungodly amount of money.”
So much money, that some alien factions think it would be better to just blow us up instead of bankrupting the whole universe.
This book was a great goofy romp through a comedic universe. The absurdity of the alien cultures and situations that our hero Nick finds himself in kept me chuckling to myself. The ridiculousness of the factual copyright laws of the music industry sprinkled into the book had me shaking my head in disbelief. It has a wide and wonderfully screwy cast of characters, and has a gleeful time sending up the music industry. A little thought provoking, and a bunch of funny. Pick this up if you get a chance.
Jason's rating: 4 Fame differential brain hemorrhages out of 5.