Tom Stein is finally achieving some success for his superstar client, Michelle, in between teasing his stern assistant, Miranda, and bowing down to his boss, Carl. He’s not expecting what Carl lands him with next; no less than the position as agent to the world’s first alien contact. The Yherajk are blobby, morphable aliens with personality, and the one that has come down for exposure to the masses is Joshua. Tom is charged with representing Joshua and somehow earning him a place in pop culture, facing the biggest and most potentially rewarding challenge of his career – and for humanity.
I’ve felt very much into science fiction lately, but because this is all fairly new, I don’t actually have very many books in my TBR bookcase that actually fit the bill. Years of historical fiction isn’t cutting it for me right now. So the book sitting by John Scalzi on my shelf – even if humorous rather than the sort of epic I was craving – was the best possible option.
In the introduction, Scalzi writes that this was his first book, his attempt to find out if he could actually write a novel before he tried to get published. Once his books took off, it made sense to dust it off and actually publish it, and that’s roughly how it landed in my hands. The book is full of trademark Scalzi wit, and it’s really obvious as a reader of his blog that it’s his voice coming out through the characters. I find this with almost all of his books these days, and I can’t say I really mind. I’m used to his voice, and I find him very amusing.
That said, this was different regardless as it’s set in the present day, amongst superstars and ordinary working folk alike. I actually liked the setting and the concept, and I found the book to be a fantastic ride. It’s not particularly deep, and it’s relatively predictable, but I think the fun factor is probably precisely what Scalzi was going for here. How much more ridiculous can you make the first alien encounter? I loved the Yherajk, they were truly a great concept for a race of aliens, and I think the book really shows off how Scalzi’s wild mind works.
It’s also a very speedy read – it’s only a short book – and works well as the standalone it is. I often feel there isn’t enough standalone fiction like this – there is the compulsion to turn everything into a series now. While I love series, I also love a book that resolves itself at the end like this one.
I can tell you that I’m now definitely looking forward to reading more of Scalzi’s humorous books as well as his deeper Old Man’s War style reads, but I’d easily recommend both. Agent to the Stars is also not what I’d imagine as a science fiction novel, so it’s a great taster for those who aren’t sure if they’d like the genre or not.
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