Friday, August 12, 2016

FFB: Agent to the Stars -- John Scalzi

Agent to the Stars was John Scalzi's first novel, written as a "practice" novel just to see if he could do it.  He serialized it online, and it was enough of a success to encourage him to continue writing.  After he became a rich and famous writer, Subterranean Press issued a limited edition, and eventually Tor reprinted the book in paperback.

Tom Stein is a Hollywood agent who works in Carl Lupo's agency.  Stein has a few low-profile clients, but he's a good agent and has just landed a really big deal for one of the clients, Michelle Beck.  Before he can celebrate much, Lupo calls him into his office and tells him to drop most of his clients because he has a new client for him.  The new client turns out to be Joshua, an alien life from, who's more or less a blob and whose race communicates through smell.  He smells terrible.  Stein's job is to create a situation in which the people of earth accept the aliens as friends and allies.  A tabloid reporter knows something is going on, and he's a bulldog when he's after a story.  Michelle Beck wants to do serious acting.  Stein's juggling a lot of balls.

Someday when scholars are writing monographs on Scalzi's work, they'll be able to trace a lot of his concerns right back to this book.  Lots of fart jokes, for one thing.  Lots of concern for social justice.  There's also plenty of snappy patter and plenty of laughs.  I thought the book was far too long, thanks to a lot of discussion about ethics in the last 1/3, but Scalzi might think that was the heart of the novel.  I enjoyed the book and was glad I finally got around to reading it.


Jeff Meyerson said...

It's funny that you reviewed this. As a big Scalzi fan, I started reading it a while ago too. Like you, I found it way too long. As a matter of fact, I put it down halfway through and will go back to it as soon as I whittle down my pile of library books. I liked the Hollywood agent stuff and the "talk to the alien" scenes, but he needed editing.

Rick Robinson said... if Jeff will ever "whittle down my pile of library books".

I have this on the shelf but haven't gotten to it and don't know when or if I will.

Mathew Paust said...

Oh, god I love fart jokes! Any new ones?

Howard said...

I was just visiting and got to thinking about his books. I remembered one with a lot of fart jokes, which of course I related to, but I couldn't figure out which of his novels it was. Question answered. Serendipity of a sort. Thanks!