WIJFR: Year Zero

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Low-level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter thinks it’s a prank, not an alien encounter, when a redheaded mullah and a curvaceous nun show up at his office. But Frampton and Carly are highly advanced (if bumbling) extraterrestrials. The entire cosmos, they tell him, has been hopelessly hooked on American pop songs ever since “Year Zero” (1977 to us), resulting in the biggest copyright violation since the Big Bang and bankrupting the whole universe. Nick has just been tapped to clean up this mess before things get ugly. Thankfully, this unlikely galaxy-hopping hero does know a thing or two about copyright law. Now, with Carly and Frampton as his guides, Nick has forty-eight hours to save humanity – while hoping to wow the hot girl who lives down the hall from him.

If you took Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” mixed in a little of Patrick Tilley’s “Mission” and healthy doses of the RIAA, copyright law, and popular music, you’d probably end up with something close to what I just finished reading: “Year Zero” by Rob Reid.

Nick Carter is a New York entertainment lawyer who, when mistaken by visiting aliens for a different Nick Carter, gets pulled into an intergalactic paper chase of epic proportions. The entire universe has been freely copying and enjoying all of the Earth’s music production since it was discovered in 1977 (thanks to an episode of “Welcome Back, Kotter!”). The Refined League’s strict rules state that a culture’s laws pertaining to art are involatile and must be followed. Based on recent legal rulings (like the Jammie Thomas case), the cost for each infringing copy of a song is around $2,000 which means that the population of Earth is owed approximately all of the money in the known universe. Awesome though Earth’s music is, there are some members of the Refined League that aren’t too happy about going completely broke. So, if the human race were to say, accidentally destroy themselves, then how could they collect on what’s owed? It’s up to Nick (the lawyer, not the Backstreet Boy) and his new alien friends to figure out a way to save the Earth and the wealth of the universe.

Filled with comedy, music, technology, law, and pop culture references (from Zork to THX 1138), if you enjoy space/alien comedies (like H2GT2G) and dislike the record labels and overly broad copyright law, you’ll love “Year Zero.” And if you’re an IT geek like me, the Epilogue will be particularly funny.

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