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Agent to the Stars

Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
Length: 8 hrs and 49 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (444 ratings)

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Editor reviews

Wil Wheaton, a Star Trek: The Next Generation alum, is a canny choice for narrator of this intersection of science fiction and Elmore Leonard-esque Hollywood farce. In addition to being a rather prominent footnote in sci-fi history, Wheaton’s also got a great voice — sonorous, with an inflection similar to a late-night radio DJ who’s bemusedly sharing an anecdote on air between tracks. His voice also carries a hint of that lilt peculiar to many native Angelenos, which comes in handy when he exaggerates it to Valley Girl-proportions to portray starlet Michelle Beck, former cheerleader and current box office draw.

Hollywood agent Tom Stein is the book’s hero, and when the story begins, Michelle is his most important client. That is, until Tom meets Joshua, an extraterrestrial whose alien race hires Tom and his boss, superagent Carl Lupo, to represent them. The Yherajk have decided their best hope for a peaceful first contact between their race and all of humanity is to out themselves via the movies, and they know if they want to make it in Hollywood, they need good representation.

Wheaton’s voicing of Joshua, who has traveled to Earth as the Yherajk’s representative, is another highlight. Joshua, like his kinsmen, looks like a gelatinous blob, gives off a noxious odor, and slithers around amorphously. He’s also incredibly educated when it comes to human pop culture, having logged countless hours watching sitcoms. Wheaton delivers Joshua’s line, “We look like snot. And we smell like dead fish,” in a nasally deadpan that suits a one-liner-delivering alien to a T.

Even when Scalzi veers into semi-philosophical territory — as when he explores why an alien race would choose a Hollywood debut over staging their premiere in Washington — Wheaton keeps the narration moving with his just-right character voices. Look out for the both silly and spot-on sounding Quebecois accent he uses to portray Roland Lanois, an art-house film director with a critical role in the novel, and for his Buddha-like turn as Gwedif, a Yherajk storyteller. —Maggie Frank

Summary

The space-faring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity's first interstellar friendship. There's just one problem: They're hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish. So getting humanity's trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal. Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He's one of Hollywood's hottest young agents. But although Stein may have just concluded the biggest deal of his career, it's quite another thing to negotiate for an entire alien race. To earn his percentage this time, he's going to need all the smarts, skills, and wits he can muster.

©2005 John Scalzi (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

“Narrator Wil Wheaton animates the slapstick text with a tone that is appropriate for the story of a young Tinsel Town agent whose other clients are either equally deranged or aren't making him much money.” ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One of the most unusual stories you will ever read

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Its an original idea, very well executed and is hilarious at the right moments

What was one of the most memorable moments of Agent to the Stars?

I couldn't possibly spoil the subject matter

Which scene did you most enjoy?

See above - would be a spoiler

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Laugh lots

Any additional comments?

Its absolutely hilarious. Its different and the end is simply a riot. Just wow !
Highly recommended !!!!!

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Good aliens make good stories too

This is the first book by John Scalzi I encounter. It's a first person tale of Hollywood agent who will be handed the difficult task to present to the human public a race of benevolent though physically unpleasant, smelly, blob-like aliens. Scalzi offers delectable characters engulfed in a story full of humour and humanity. Wheaton's performance is outstanding and probably one of the most enjoyable I've heard on audiobook so far.

8 people found this helpful

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Not What I Expected - Pleasantly So.

If you could sum up Agent to the Stars in three words, what would they be?

Unexpected. Grounded. Enjoyable.

Which character – as performed by Wil Wheaton – was your favourite?

The lead, closely followed by Joshua.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes, and I'm not going to spoil it for anyone else.

Any additional comments?

There's a TV series called Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Watch the first five or six episodes and you'll form an opinion of the show and may dismiss it, which would be a shame as it takes a suddenly side-step down a different path. Agent to the Stars very much reminds me of that.

Starting the book with Will Wheaton's excellent narration I found it an engaging albeit somewhat unremarkable story. Nice idea though and it has left me wondering whether John Scalzi has either close connections to the world of reps or is simply very thorough in his research; in itself a compliment to the book. But the story took a bit of a left turn and disappeared down a somewhat darker and more intriguing path.

Lots of concepts here and now looking to pick up one of his other works, perhaps Red Shirts or Lock in.

3 people found this helpful

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Enjoyable comedy fiction

Fast paced, with Scalzi's trademark witty repartee. A Hollywood agent is tasked with representing a new and very important client: an alien. The dialogue reminds me of Buffy for some reason. I guess it's that "say it fast enough and throw in some snarky rejoinders and it'll be funny" thing. Except it is actually funny. I like that stuff, so I don't have to be convinced.

3 people found this helpful

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The perfect audiobook

The combination of Wil Wheaton and John Scalzi is awesome.... A fantastic book by The Big S, full of his typical wit and dialogue, narrated by the imperious Wheaton,who makes these books come alive ....For some odd reason I missed reading this book for a long time but having read the entire Scalzi oeuvre it was a pleasure to have this one left.

Whether it's audio or written, Scalzi is perfect.

3 people found this helpful

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the blob attack never happened lol

truly impressed and grabbed from the start and never let up with totally satisfied ending! Wil Weaton's voice takes you right to and through each chapter with vivid clarity and story telling prowess.
can there please be a side story where all the aliens find a way to cohabit all the Dogs lol

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Fun story

This is a nice book, it's light and funny and very enjoyable. Wil Wheaton's performance makes it all the more better.

Honestly Scalzi has much better books but this one is quite fun to read in between bigger more complex books.

1 person found this helpful

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Sweet (?) Smell of Success

Behind the scenes of a Hollywood agent, antsy wannabe actresses, irritating reporters, devious colleagues, repulsive looking (and smelly) aliens keen to make a friendly approach to the people of earth - and John Scalzi's fabulously comic dialogue : what's not to like? It's a great, funny story delivered perfectly by Wil Wheaton.
Buy, listen and enjoy.

1 person found this helpful

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gripping, funny, emotional rollercoster

John Scalzi has yet to write a book/story that I havemt enjoyed
and with the pairing of will wheatons performance makes this book amazing

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A "must listen to".

One of the most original stories in a very long time. The characters were totally believable and well painted. Excellent plot development, and amusing dialog. Brilliant narration. Cannot wait to download another by John Scalzi.
Throughly recommended.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Bryan
  • 22-04-11

Hollywood Agent Represents Stinky Aliens

So what would happen if the aliens came, but instead of nice sleek greys like Close Encounters they stank like the worst thing you could ever imagine? Well, John Scalzi - who has obviously had some experience dealing with Hollywood agents - puts together a wonderful story of how this might unfold.


He has wonderful characters that cover a wide range of possibilities. This is a wonderfully comic romp that pokes fun at many a sacred cow. It also has its very, very somber moments - especially concerning the Holocaust - but is a wonderfully engaging story that you will not want to stop until its completely done.


The narration by Wil Wheaton - best known as Wesley Crusher from Star Trek the Next Generation - is well done. He voices the characters, especially the snarky alien, perfectly.


You will want to explore all the John Scalzi books after hearing this one

73 people found this helpful

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  • Katya A
  • 06-03-13

A stay-up-all-night-reading kind of book

This is my first book by John Scalzi, but definitely not the last. His sharp anad slightly sarcastic humor, effortless wit and narrative flow remind me a lot of "Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. The characters are interesting, multi-dimensional and over the top, while still believable and very much likable. The way the story weaves through the fantastic elements and the mundane elements is thrilling.

Separate tip of the hat to Wil Wheaton, an excellent narrator. His characters are very distinct, his technique is flawless and Joshua the Alien sounds like a true hipster, which, i guess is expected for a gelatinous life form.

I would recommend this book, you will enjoy it!

43 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • C. Paget
  • 28-12-10

excellent

This author was new to me, as was the narrator,(though of course I remember his roles in Star Trek etc with fondness). Hope it won't be the last. The reading was clear and well punctuated with only minimal thespian over-indulgence. I only tend to write reviews if I have something to complain about or something to praise, happily, this is the latter. The book had me almost rolling on the floor in stiches, a rare event for a Science Fiction book, Audible Frontiers has come up trumps again, well done!

84 people found this helpful

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  • Lore
  • 24-04-17

A fun farce that eventually loses its way.

The Yherjak are an alien race that has traveled for many years across the galaxy to reach Earth with a plan to make first contact with us. Being a benevolent people they decide take it slowly and they spend time monitoring our communications in order to figure out how best to proceed with reaching out. After careful study of our culture they realize that their appearance, a translucent gelatinous mess, combined with the fact that they communicate through smells, bad ones at that, will likely result in a poor first contact scenario. Since the Yherjak have dedicated many years of their lives to making successful contact with us they are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure it goes well. Of course that means that they hire a top Hollywood agent to represent them and plan for their introduction to the rest of the planet. :)

This is actually the first novel written by John Scalzi and one that he initially self published as an unknown author asking for donations from readers that liked the book. After he became a best-selling author for his Old Man's War series this book was eventually republished in a more traditional fashion and rightfully so. It shows off Scalzi's ability to tell a science fiction story with humor at its core and how he creativity brings together multiple disparate satirical plot points.

I enjoyed this one but it wound up feeling a bit disjointed when the latter half of the book included some rather serious topics including the Holocaust, depression, and a person's right to die. None of that is bad in and of itself but the humor of the book was lost as the serious subject matter took over and that just felt out of place for this type of story. That aside it was still an interesting read and I do enjoy experiencing an author's first work so I can see how they have grown in their craft over time.

Once again Wil Wheaton teams up with John Scalzi as the narrator and while Wheaton is not one of my preferred narrators I must admit that he does a good job with this one. This is worth picking up just to see how Scalzi's writing career got started but do so knowing that the humor gets put aside towards the end, for better or worse.

22 people found this helpful

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  • Katherine
  • 19-06-13

John Scalzi's debut

Originally posted at FanLit.

Tom Stein is a young Hollywood agent who used to think that his clients were hard to handle. That was before Tom’s boss assigned him to represent the most important client any agent has ever had to deal with — the first aliens to contact the human race.

These aliens — the Yherajk — have been watching our TV broadcasts for years, so they know a lot about humans. They are peaceful and want to make a good impression, but they know it’ll be a hard sell. That’s because they look like The Blob, smell like sweaty sneakers, and have some powers that humans are going to find very disturbing. In other words, they seem more like fodder for our horror movies than friends. That’s why they’ve asked Tom Stein’s agency to represent them. So Tom gets to dump his difficult clients off on a junior agent so he can concentrate on figuring out how to give the aliens an image makeover before they’re marketed to the human public.

If you’re already a fan of John Scalzi’s writing, whether it’s his novels or his blog, you’re sure to enjoy Agent to the Stars. It’s non-stop entertainment that’s crackling with that snide humor he’s famous for. The whole Hollywood culture falls victim to his pen as Tom Stein and his competent assistant deal with divas, Hollywood has-beens, the mother of a pampered child star, nosey reporters, rabid fans, and a dumb blonde who wants to move up from playing beach bunny roles to playing a holocaust victim.

Yet even as Scalzi delights in poking fun at Hollywood, at the same time he illustrates its cultural significance and shows us how film can be a powerful tool for education, understanding, and social change. Specifically here he highlights the atrocities that were committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust. A few of these scenes were beautifully poignant.

Agent to the Stars, published in 2005, was John Scalzi’s first novel and it succeeds in every way. Audible Frontiers put it on audio in 2010 and Brilliance Audio released it in CD format last month. Wil Wheaton, who narrates some of Scalzi’s other work, is absolutely perfect here. Scalzi + Wheaton is a terrific combination. If you’re going to read Agent of the Stars, which you should, please please try the audio version!

76 people found this helpful

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  • colleen
  • 06-05-14

Excellent

Imagine that you are an Alien race trying to make first contact with earth but are a little worried about the bad wrap you’ve been getting in the movies. What do you do? You get yourself a Hollywood agent. John Scalzi does a wonderful job in this absurdly funny caper. Original, well narrated and a lot of fun.

56 people found this helpful

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  • Jeff
  • 19-03-18

All the wrong people are the best

"He said" and "She said" are the most common words... its kind of infuriating for that.

Otherwise the most likable characters are not the ones intended.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Lori Trisler
  • 21-11-12

Most fun I've had with an audiobook!

I had so much fun listening to this book. The story was great. The narrator was spot on. He was exactly what I'd expect a Hollywood agent to sound like. The wise cracking alien was an additional bright spot.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-04-11

Think "The Player" or "Entourage" with an Alien

This is a wonderfully funny mash up of the Hollywood insider story and a first contact tale. Not only is this imaginative but well executed and oddly genuine.
Wil Wheaton is a phenomenal reader and I hope he does more.
John Scalzi's unique voice in SciFi reminds me of Spider Robinson's intro decades ago, just something totally different. He brings a lot to the table with this fairly short story, but with the intelligence and humor you'd expect from Scalzi. The concept he puts forward is crazy, but you gradually start to come around to the idea that it is not only a worthwhile story, but kind of a good idea that you can't believe you haven't thought of before... Aliens really could use representation.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Bradford
  • 14-03-13

Meh ... says the SF Fan.

My second Scalzi novel, I was looking forward to seeing what he could do with what is a very intriguing idea ... how would an alien race introduce themselves to 21st Century humanity? The logic of Scalzi's approach is sadly unquestionable. It turns this bland and unexciting novel into a worthwhile read. Scalzi navigates the world of Hollywood stars and agents well, implying to some extent first-hand experience with the industry. His choice of alien species is different and certainly eliminates all stereotypical first contact scenarios right off the bat. Make no mistake, this book is not "Rendezvous with Rama." It's not even in the same solar system as that one. This is a fun little novel about the sad world of Hollywood and just how much the mere appearances of the people there impact our daily perceptions of humanity as a whole. The hidden messages regarding the Holocaust are an interesting twist. However, I think if you really want an alien race to understand humanity and why we're even worth making contact with you don't show them humanity at its worst and then expect them to come down as friends, no matter how popular they get. Scalzi's writing remains an abused victim of overusing "he said," "she said," and an unending supply of adverbs, but at least it didn't kill the overall experience. Need a break from typical first contact novels, give this one a go ... just don't go in with too high of expectations.

14 people found this helpful