Thursday, August 03, 2017

Mini-Review: Year Zero by Rob Reid

Year Zero by Rob Reid was published in 2012 and is a fun, satirical SF book about the music industry. While I’ve seen a few comparisons to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I think that really doesn’t stack up, as Year Zero really aims to tap into musical nostalgia of the late 1970s and 1980s. Think something more along the lines of a combination of John Scalzi’s Agent to the Stars and Cline’s Ready Player One with music.

The ultimate premise is rather goofy where a galactic society of advanced alien species discover the music of Earth, becomes crazy addicted to it, and incurs unimaginable debt to humanity due to piracy and copyright laws in the music industry. Reid actually pulls it off with an appropriate amount of humor and just enough reality to keep things grounded.

And of course it is full of nostalgia with music references everywhere.

But, Year Zero is also a satire where humor doesn’t always distract from the acrid bitterness of Reid himself. Reid has a long history in the real world in technology and music, where he was essentially the founder of the first musical streaming company – Rhapsody. From this point of view, the bitterness and anger of Reid’s experience as a tech entrepreneur somewhere between the rampant piracy of the Napster era and the mega music corporations and their legal teams.

I keep saying bitterness because it literally drips from this book. I think it’s safe to say that Reid holds true contempt for lawyers and executives of the music industry and the politicians that they own(ed). I really hope that writing this book was therapeutic for Reid and that he has managed to move past all this, because man…the bitterness. Note: judging from the bio of Reid on his webpage and the description of his latest SFF novel, After On, the therapy of writing is an ongoing project.

Anyway, there is just enough humor and nostalgia keeping the bitterness from taking over the book. It’s fun and gets in a few really great shots (such as the Bill Gates cameo), and some really fantastic music references.

So…looking for satirical science fiction full of musical nostalgia? This book is absolutely for you. And it’s pretty fun for the rest of too.

By Rob Reid:

Year Zero: Amazon
After On: Amazon

Other books mentioned:

Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi: Amazon
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: My Review, Amazon

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