Review: Agent to the Stars, by John Scalzi

Space aliens meet Hollywood aliens (4 stars)

The book introduces us to the benevolent and advanced Yherajk, aliens that picked up radio and television signals from Earth and have come to introduce themselves to humanity. The Yherajk are actually sentient colonies of unicellular organisms that look like walking green bubbles. It also doesn’t help their charisma that their communication is based in a constant emission of pheromones, that to humans seem like some kind of flatulence festival.

Enters Tom Stein, a young and upcoming Hollywood agent. He is hired by the Yherajk to try and improve their image before they are formally introduced to humans. The technology and culture of the aliens is very well constructed in a “soft” sci fi kind of way, full of jokes and references from books and movies.

It is very funny how the strangest characters are not the aliens, but Hollywood fauna. Tom’s clients represent several stereotypes from the world of show business, like the cute actress from blockbusters that tries to act in “serious” films and the overprotective mother from a rapper that is obsessed in trying to keep his little boy away from “bad influences”, even if in said rapper’s birthday party there was more cocaine than in the final scene of Scarface.

For me, the book lost a bit of it’s rhythm by the middle. The endless expositions of plans from the aliens and Tom could be cut, as could the surprisingly amount of pages dedicated to the ethical dilemmas of using mind control against sentient creatures.

But these are minor complains. Agent to the Stars is an excellent comedy with a satirical look on Hollywood and sci fy. It is worth a read both to interested in the behind the scenes of the movie industry as well as lovers of B movies.

Guilherme Solari is a Brazilian writer and journalist from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He has written about movies, literature and videogames for some of Brazil’s biggest news sites. He is the author of THE CASCAVEL CHRONICLES, a love letter to 80's action movies, as well as the cyberpunk CYBERSAMPA series.