YEAR ZERO – ROB REID – GET IT FOR 99 CENTS (KINDLE) NOW!

What with the NSA XBox and spying thing — and now the shut down and who know what else coming to get us, Year Zero gets more and more relevant … and hilarious. And right now, you can grab a Kindle copy for 99 cents from Del Rey via Amazon! If you have not read this gem — grab it now!

Truly one of the funniest, smartest pieces of science fiction in many years. I don’t merely like this book. I really LOVE it!

When in 2012, Rob Reid wrote Year Zero, a science fiction novel about the music business and its impact on the universe, many people sat up and took notice. Who better to write about the Byzantine complexities of the music business than Rob Reid?

The author of Year ZeroRob Reid does not have the kind of bio one would expect of a science fiction author. In fact, he was and is an entrepreneur and multi-millionaire, the kind of self-made multi millionaire who makes many of us realize what failures we are.

Born in New York City, raised in Darien, Connecticut, got his undergraduate degree at Stanford University in Arabic and International Relations. Earned an MBA from Harvard. In 1994 he moved to Silicon Valley where he managed Silicon Graphic’s relations with Netscape. In 1999 he became a founding member of IGN Entertainment which went public in 2000. IGN was acquired by News Corp in 2005 for $650 million.

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Reid was the sole founder of Listen.com for which he served as CEO and Executive Chairman. Listen.com launched Rhapsody, a music streaming service, the first legal service of its kind. Rhapsody was bought by RealNetworks in 2003 and Reid continued to serve as one of its vice president until MTV purchased it for $230 million.

Year Zero is one of the funniest, scariest, weirdest science fiction novels I’ve ever read — up there with Jasper Fforde and the great Douglas Adams and certainly the only book of its kind that includes footnotes. They are hilarious too.

The scary part of the novel is not the story but how it mirrors the realities of the music business. The music business is scary.

It turns out that Earth is the only planet in the universe that can create music worth listening to. It is not merely the best music in the universe. For all practical purpose, it is the only music. Other worlds have made something that had been called music … until the discovery of Earth’s music. From the moment our music was heard by the highly advanced sentient cosmos, there was no turning back. The year of the discovery of Earth’s music was Year Zero, the dawn of a new era for every planet in every galaxy everywhere. It also signaled the likely end of life on Earth unless some legal loophole could be found in our insanely punitive copyright laws.

If not, the combined amount of money owed to Earth’s music corporations would be so monumental it would bankrupt the entire universe. Unable to pay the bill yet obligated by inter-galactic law to pay it, the easier choice would be to destroy Earth, eliminating the problem and de facto, canceling the debt.

Whether or not you will find the book as fascinating and funny as I did is probably a matter of what you find funny. No one knows the intricacies of law as it pertains to the music industry better than Rob Reid.

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The humans are funny and oddly heroic, each in his or her own way. People rise to the occasion. The aliens are deliciously bizarre and some of them also rise … or fall … to the occasion. The combination of law and the ridiculousness of the situation is hilarious.

Although Year Zero is every bit as weird as any of Douglas Adams’ books to which it has been compared, the strangeness of the story is based on facts of law. Douglas Adams created the Improbability Drive from his own imagination. Rob Reid only has to quote the actual laws — every bit as bizarre as anything you could imagine. That’s scary.

I loved this book. I read it, read it again. Then I bought the audio book and listened to it twice more. I’ll probably read it several more times.

There is no sequel. It’s the only novel Rob Reid has written. Otherwise, he is the author of two non-fiction books: Architects of the Web about Silicon Valley, and Year One about life as a student at Harvard Business School.

This is a great book and I bet you’ll love it too. Give it a read. If nothing else, you’ll learn everything you never wanted to know about the music business!

Somebody out there hates you.

Nobody is hate-proof.

Regardless of your color, politics or sexual orientation. No matter what religion you do or don’t practice. Whatever your ethnicity or native language, level of education. City dweller, suburbanite or farmer. Somebody hates your guts because you exist. They don’t need to know anything about you personally. For whoever hates you, that you live is more than enough reason to want you dead.

Garry and I were watching an old episode of Law and Order tonight. The victim was a child murderer and pedophile, recently released from prison. In violation of his parole, he was living with a woman and two young children.

Blind-justice

The murderer was this sleaze’s former social worker and therapist. She murdered him because she believed him to be a serious threat to society and specifically to the two children with whose mother he was living.

The jury refused to convict her even though she did it and never denied it. They liked her and felt she had done society a favor. I can certainly understand why they would feel that way. The victim was the dregs, the kind of criminal who gives criminals a bad name. Meanwhile the perpetrator was a highly intelligent, educated woman, on the side of the angels. Or maybe not.

The problem is obvious and of course that’s what the show was about. That’s what this post is about too. Where do we, as a society, draw the line? If it’s okay to be a vigilante in this case, what if the victim is homosexual and the killer believes homosexuality is an affront to God … and the jury is composed of fundamentalists who agree him? You can see where this is going, or for that matter, where it has been. Ugly, uglier, ugliest.

Does law become optional if there’s a general social agreement that a particular victim deserved what he or she got? What about if the police are sure they know who done it, but can’t prove it? Should they plant evidence to get a conviction?

There has to be a line in the sand. Because no matter who you are, somebody hates you enough to kill you for being you. Somewhere, there’s probably a whole village full of people who hate you enough to kill you. If we erase or smudge that line, no one will ever be safe. Not me, not you. No matter who you are. No matter where you live. No matter how righteous or harmless you are.

Somebody hates you and wants you dead.

I beg to differ …

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I beg to differ.

Garry at the riverYou can’t? Ever owned dogs? If you have the right treat, you can teach a dog of any age whatever you want. A piece of liverwurst? That old dog will do the tango then sing Stars and Stripes Forever with particular emphasis on the piccolo solo.

But I know you aren’t really talking about dogs. You’re talking about people. Older people and if you are a heterosexual woman, you’re talking about … men. Guys. Probably your Other Half. Him, the one in the recliner.

In my humble experience, you can’t teach young guys anything. They know everything already. Just ask them. On the other hand, you can teach old guys plenty, especially if it doesn’t involve climbing ladders, getting up really early, driving long distances, or turning off the television.

Nan now.
Nan now.

Everything else? It’s all in the presentation. If you can figure out a way to transmit the information without triggering any of his hot buttons? You’re home free. Which hot buttons? That’s your problem. I’ve got my own husband.

BonnieAs for the dogs, anything that tastes or smell like liver works. Or salami. As for our furry kids? If it is remotely edible, they’ll take it. They are not picky.

All summer, they favored watermelon, but with the ending of the season, they are back to backing for anything I have in my hand on the theory that “how bad can it be?” They really aren’t picky.

Bonnie will go pretty far for a slightly used paper napkin. This does not work with men, although I’m told that pizza has a similar effect.

Stop laughing, do you hear me? Stop! No one takes me seriously.

Where there’s smoke …

Among the many inane things we say when we don’t have something witty of our own to offer (hey, don’t knock it … someone else’s bon mot beats out “duh” every time), there are a few genuinely despicable ones.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

It’s a justification for accusing someone based on rumor, hearsay or malice. I won’t bother to address the physics except to point our there can be smoke without fire, and fire without smoke. No multiple interpretation for these words. This means only one thing.

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“I haven’t a shred of evidence, but I’ve heard stuff about you-know-who. He/she/they must be guilty of something, right? Because where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

No one with good intentions uses this line. Never. It’s mean-spirited and downright un-American in a nation founded on the principle of never convicting anyone without due process. Being unpopular is not proof of wrong-doing. Neither is attending a different church, or no church all. Or dressing funny, having a bad attitude, failing to mow the lawn, keeping to yourself, being anti-social or even rude. It’s legal to be different.

And hey, how about gossip, eh? People say all kinds of shit. It can ruin reputations and careers, destroy families. All because a guy said something to another guy about someone else. Then a couple of other guys in a bar repeated what they thought they’d heard, plus a few embellishments. Their girlfriends passed it to their BFFs who published it on Facebook. Voila.

That’s the smoke. Fire is inferred, after which you’ve got all you need to get a quick conviction without benefit of judge, jury or trial. The next thing you know, a lynch mob is forming.

If ever you hear yourself saying “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” or words to that effect, stop. Ask yourself what gives you the right to judge. Because you too can be judged and I bet you won’t much like it.