Nick Carter is a New York City intellectual property lawyer teetering on a career precipice. Only bringing in some fantastic new client can save him from getting the boot. That's doesn't seem likely, though, until a couple of aliens materialize in his office, bringing him the biggest copyright infringement case of all time.
Carly and Frampton tell Nick (who they think is Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys in a second career) that aliens discovered Earth music some years back, during the "Kotter Moment," the instant when their monitoring of US airwaves allowed them to hear the Welcome Back Kotter theme song. It threw them into such ecstasies that brains literally melted. They sent teams to a secret tunnel under the Waldorf Astoria to copy all of the Earth's music for the listening delight of the universe.
The problem is, the universe is run by the Refined League, who insist that all local laws be obeyed, which means that the fines for unauthorized music copying will bankrupt the entire universe. Some think a better solution is to obliterate the Earth. Carly, Frampton and Nick race against the clock to find a solution before the Earth goes boom.
There follows a wild ride through time Wrinkles, meetings with aliens like pluhhhs, Perfuffinites and the Guardians from the planet Fiffywhumpy. Some are cute and some are extremely scary. But on a scale of scariness, none can rival Judy, the partner at Nick's firm whom they decide is the only person crazily aggressive enough to win this fight.
Author Rob Reid was the founder of Listen[dot]com, which initiated the Rhapsody music streaming service. He has been a longtime critic of the music industry, its lawyers and lobbyists, over their music copyright stands. He satirizes them relentlessly in Year Zero. It's funny stuff. The book's footnotes contain some real gems and should not be skipped----the way footnotes often are, even though we don't like to admit it. And don't omit the endnotes either, where you'll see playlists of the book's key characters. They'll have you giving your iTunes a workout.
Reid has a rollicking, smart-alecky writing style (describing a protective mob as appearing as if they "had just heard that their kid sister was at the junior high school dance with R. Kelly"), and strong characterization and dialog skills, but he stumbles somewhat in the plotting department. In his acknowledgments, he mentions one person as giving him the "polite but firm suggestion that I consider adding a plot to the book after reading an early draft of it." No doubt he added some, but more would have been better. As it is, the book has less of a story arc than a squiggle. All in all, though, this is a promising effort for a first-time novelist and an amusing read. I'm giving it 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 stars.
Note: How weird is it that I've read two books in a row with meetings set in the secret rail tunnel underneath the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel that Franklin Delano Roosevelt used to travel on? The other book, which I do NOT recommend, is the mystery Jack 1939, by Francine Mathews.