I am a fan of the geek novel. Because I am a wanna-be geek. Not an actual geek, but in another life I would like to think I might actually be able to be a real live geek. (Probably not, but that is another story.)
Year Zero is a geek novel of the best sort. It is science fiction, involves aliens, has a geeky set up (copyright law), lots of cultural references and is still readable and enjoyable for the general public.
The basic story of the book is that the rest of the universe is in love with Earth’s music. Starting in 1977 with the interception of the theme song from Welcome Back Kotter, literally billions of aliens have died of joy listening to Earth’s music.
Which has now created a problem, because Galactic law says that the rest of the universe has to abide by Earth law when dealing with Earth’s products. It was discovered right before the novel opens that Earth has bankrupted the rest of the universe. Because the entire universe has a pirated copy of every recorded song ever recorded on earth. And under the DMCA, the universe owes the Earth $150,000 per song copy pirated.
So some aliens outside the Earth think it would be better to destroy the Earth than to bankrupt the universe.
And so a pair of aliens come to copyright lawyer Nick Carter (unfortunately he wasn’t that Nick Carter).
Year Zero is what you would get if you mixed the best humor of John Scalzi and the best social and legal commentary of Lawrence Lessig and the best footnotes of Douglas Adams. There is a point where I thought the gag had gone on too long, but it picked up again and I loved the epilogue ending.
Right now it is on sale for $2.99 on Kindle and well worth the price. For those that like audiobooks, John Hodgman is the narrator (which seems like a perfect choice.)