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Tom Stein is a rising star in a major Hollywood talent agency. One day, after securing a $12.5 million movie deal for his A-list client Michelle Beck, he's called into a meeting by his boss Carl Lupo. Carl introduces him to a [[BlobMonster blob]]-like alien named Joshua and explains that Joshua's people, the Yherajk, have traveled for many decades in their asteroid-turned-ship to initiate FirstContact with humanity. Unfortunately, after arriving and picking up on the latest [[AliensStealCable media transmissions]], they have realized that, to humans, they would appear as typical {{Blob Monster}}s despite their peaceful nature (the fact that they normally communicate via awful odors doesn't help). So, instead of going with the typical TakeMeToYourLeader tactic, they have chosen to, first, hire a human agent to prepare humanity for the contact. Since Carl is a well-known figure in Hollywood circles, he asks Tom to take on the entire Yherajk race as his clients. Carl also wants Joshua to move in with Tom for the time being. So, while trying to figure out how to make an unattractive alien race presentable to humanity, Tom has to keep a bored alien hidden from everyone else, fend off an annoying reporter, and keep his other clients (namely, Michelle Beck) happy. [[HilarityEnsues Cue hilarity]].

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Tom Stein is a rising star in a major Hollywood talent agency. One day, after securing a $12.5 million movie deal for his A-list client Michelle Beck, he's called into a meeting by his boss Carl Lupo. Carl introduces him to a [[BlobMonster blob]]-like alien named Joshua and explains that Joshua's people, the Yherajk, have traveled for many decades in their asteroid-turned-ship to initiate FirstContact with humanity.

Unfortunately, after arriving and picking up on the latest [[AliensStealCable media transmissions]], they have realized that, to humans, they would appear as typical {{Blob Monster}}s despite their peaceful nature (the fact that they normally communicate via awful odors doesn't help). So, instead of going with the typical TakeMeToYourLeader tactic, they have chosen to, first, hire a human agent to prepare humanity for the contact.

Since Carl is a well-known figure in Hollywood circles, he asks Tom to take on the entire Yherajk race as his clients. Carl also wants Joshua to move in with Tom for the time being. So, while trying to figure out how to make an unattractive alien race presentable to humanity, Tom has to keep a bored alien hidden from everyone else, fend off an annoying reporter, and keep his other clients (namely, Michelle Beck) happy. [[HilarityEnsues Cue hilarity]].



* ThePrimaDonna: Tea Reader is a semi-popular singer, represented by Tom, although it's revealed that nearly half of the revenue from her albums comes from teenage boys buying them just for the cover picture of her coming out of the pool. She's also a complete bitch, who treats everyone around her like crap (apparently unaware of the teenage boy demographic). After Tom asks a rookie agent named Amanda Hewson to take over as Tea's agent, Tea shows up and drives the inexperienced agent to tears. Tom then puts Tea in her place by pointing out that he's the only good agent willing to work with her, so she better shut up and treat Amanda nicely.

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* ThePrimaDonna: Tea Reader is a semi-popular singer, represented by Tom, although it's revealed that nearly half of the revenue from her albums comes from teenage boys buying them just for the cover picture of her [[SexySurfacingShot coming out of the pool.pool]]. She's also a complete bitch, who treats everyone around her like crap (apparently unaware of the teenage boy demographic). After Tom asks a rookie agent named Amanda Hewson to take over as Tea's agent, Tea shows up and drives the inexperienced agent to tears. Tom then puts Tea in her place by pointing out that he's the only good agent willing to work with her, so she better shut up and treat Amanda nicely.

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* BadassBureaucrat: Miranda Escalon. She spend several years as a teenage gang member, then turned her life around, went to college, and became an office assistant.

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* ImADoctorNotAPlaceholder: Tom asks Carl how "the stuff in the aquarium" can talk. Carl responds with "I'm not really sure about the physics of it, Tom. I'm an agent, not a scientist".


* BookEnds: Both in the first and in the last scene of the book, Tom is sitting in his office, talking to someone on the phone through a headset, and bouncing a little rubber raquetball against the window.



* SarcasticConfession: Maybe. At one point, Jim Van Doren asks Tom directly what he's up to, and Tom tells him the truth, knowing fully well that Jim will think he's mocking him. It isn't mentioned how much, if any, sarcasm there is in Tom's tone of voice, though.



* SmallNameBigEgo: Inevitable given the Hollywood setting. Tea Reader is the most prominent example, being a moderately successful singer most well known for looking like a real life Barbie doll. Also mentioned by not seen are a character actor who refuses anything less than leading roles after being nominated for Best Supporting Actor once, and a Telenovela star who wants roles in English speaking media but refuses to learn the language.

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* SmallNameBigEgo: Inevitable given the Hollywood setting. Tea Reader is the most prominent example, being a moderately successful singer most well known for looking like a real life Barbie doll. Also mentioned by but not seen are a character actor who refuses anything less than leading roles after being nominated for Best Supporting Actor once, and a Telenovela star who wants roles in English speaking media but refuses to learn the language.


* IntrepidReporter: Jim Van Doren of ''The Biz''. He spends much of the novel being a thorn in Tom's side, writing ridiculous articles about him, right at the time Tom needs the spotlight to be as far away from him (and Joshua) as possible. Unfortunately, Tom's secretiveness only peaks Jim's interest. [[spoiler:He ends up accidentally hitching a ride to the Yherajk ship, and Tom gets him to agree to hold off on writing anything about the aliens until the official FirstContact. Jim reluctantly agrees and, eventually, ends up cashing in on the reveal by writing a book on his experiences aboard the ''Ionar''. He also agrees to relive Michelle's last memories, with Gwedif being used as a conductor, in order to determine if she really did intend to kill herself. He proves that it was all a terrible mistake, which convinces the Yherajk to try letting Joshua "inhabit" Michelle's brain-dead body]].

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* IntrepidReporter: Jim Van Doren of ''The Biz''. He spends much of the novel being a thorn in Tom's side, writing ridiculous articles about him, right at the time Tom needs the spotlight to be as far away from him (and Joshua) as possible. Unfortunately, Tom's secretiveness only peaks piques Jim's interest. [[spoiler:He ends up accidentally hitching a ride to the Yherajk ship, and Tom gets him to agree to hold off on writing anything about the aliens until the official FirstContact. Jim reluctantly agrees and, eventually, ends up cashing in on the reveal by writing a book on his experiences aboard the ''Ionar''. He also agrees to relive Michelle's last memories, with Gwedif being used as a conductor, in order to determine if she really did intend to kill herself. He proves that it was all a terrible mistake, which convinces the Yherajk to try letting Joshua "inhabit" Michelle's brain-dead body]].


* SexySecretary: Miranda Escalon is Tom's assistant. Besides being attractive, she is ''very'' good at her job, and her relationship with Tom has traces of SassySecretary. [[spoiler:While in a vulnerable state, Tom ends up kissing Miranda, and she responds in kind. She later finds out about the aliens and even allows Joshua to rummage around in her brain to learn how to control a female human body, although she demands that Tom not be present during this. During the montage at the end, it's mentioned that Tom and Miranda got married]].

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* SexySecretary: Miranda Escalon is Tom's assistant. Besides being attractive, she is ''very'' good at her job, and her relationship with Tom has traces of SassySecretary. [[spoiler:While in a vulnerable state, Tom ends up kissing Miranda, and she responds in kind. She later finds out about the aliens and even allows Joshua to rummage around in her brain to learn how to control a female human body, although she demands that Tom not be present during this. During the montage at the end, it's mentioned that Tom and Miranda got married]].married and are expecting a baby]].
* SmallNameBigEgo: Inevitable given the Hollywood setting. Tea Reader is the most prominent example, being a moderately successful singer most well known for looking like a real life Barbie doll. Also mentioned by not seen are a character actor who refuses anything less than leading roles after being nominated for Best Supporting Actor once, and a Telenovela star who wants roles in English speaking media but refuses to learn the language.


* StarfishLanguage: The Yherajk communicate with one another by emitting complicated smells, with the identity of the "speaker" stated by a unique molecular marker. To a human, it all smells awful. The considerate Yherajk make nose plugs for all visiting humans.

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* StarfishLanguage: The Yherajk communicate with one another by emitting complicated smells, with the identity of the "speaker" stated by a unique molecular marker. To a human, it all smells awful. The considerate Yherajk make nose plugs for all visiting humans.humans, although even thoes fail during heated arguments or loud cheering.



* TheUnReveal: Thanks to [[spoiler:"Michelle"/Joshua revealing her/himself to the public]], it's never revealed if [[spoiler:''Hard Memories'' wins the Best Picture category at the Academy Awards]].

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* TheUnReveal: Thanks to [[spoiler:"Michelle"/Joshua revealing her/himself to the public]], it's never revealed if [[spoiler:''Hard Memories'' wins the Best Picture category at the Academy Awards]].

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* ManlyTears: Anyone guy who witnesses [[spoiler:Michelle/Joshua's performance as Rachel Spiegelman]] is invariably driven to tears. It helps that [[spoiler:Michelle/Joshua is working with the personal experience "downloaded" from Tom's grandmother, who is herself a Holocaust survivor]].

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* OneGenderRace: The Yherajk don't have a concept of sex or gender, given their nature and method of reproduction. However, for ease of communication, the pronoun "he" is employed. Additionally, Joshua behaves in a more masculine manner than the rest of his kind, but this is likely because Carl (a human male) is one of his parents and is the one who named him Joshua. [[spoiler:Joshua's manner changes slightly after becoming "Michelle", and Tom makes it a point to refer to "Michelle" as "she"]].

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* MindControl: The Yherajk are able to exert control over lesser beings (i.e. animals) by sticking tiny (invisible to the naked eye) tendrils through their orifices into their brains and instructing them directly mind-to-mind. Back on their homeworld, they use this means to control a large frog-like animal (with more legs), their version of a beast of burden. When Tom shows his distaste for such method, Joshua points out that it's more humane than whipping or spurring an animal to get it to obey. They are strictly forbidden from doing that to other sentient beings, though.


* DoingItForTheArt: Despite just landing a $12.5 million deal to star in a sequel to her AlienInvasion blockbuster ''Murdered Earth'', Michelle Beck is determined to try to get the lead role in a relatively low-budget biopic about a Holocaust survivor/civil rights advocate named Rachel Spiegelman. This is despite the fact that she barely has any idea what the Holocaust even was and that she looks nothing like the real Rachel Spiegelman, not to mention that her acting ability is average at best. She wants the role to work on her "craft", not wanting to be stuck doing sci-fi flicks for the rest of her career. Unfortunately, the Spiegelman family has veto power over the role of their late relative, and they don't believe that a twenty-something blue-eyed blonde like Michelle Beck deserves to play someone they consider a saint.

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* [[invoked]] DoingItForTheArt: Despite just landing a $12.5 million deal to star in a sequel to her AlienInvasion blockbuster ''Murdered Earth'', Michelle Beck is determined to try to get the lead role in a relatively low-budget biopic about a Holocaust survivor/civil rights advocate named Rachel Spiegelman. This is despite the fact that she barely has any idea what the Holocaust even was and that she looks nothing like the real Rachel Spiegelman, not to mention that her acting ability is average at best. She wants the role to work on her "craft", not wanting to be stuck doing sci-fi flicks for the rest of her career. Unfortunately, the Spiegelman family has veto power over the role of their late relative, and they don't believe that a twenty-something blue-eyed blonde like Michelle Beck deserves to play someone they consider a saint.


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* TheUnReveal: Thanks to [[spoiler:"Michelle"/Joshua revealing her/himself to the public]], it's never revealed if [[spoiler:''Hard Memories'' wins the Best Picture category at the Academy Awards]].

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* MoodWhiplash: The first half of the novel is fairly light and involves plenty of humorous moments. Then [[spoiler:Michelle has an accident and ends up brain-dead]]. The rest of the novel is notably much more somber and darker, although there are some lighter moments.

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* AlienArtsAreAppreciated: The Yherajk have something called "tivis", which are artworks made with smells. They are designed to trigger certain emotions when sniffed. Surprisingly, they also work on humans, despite our different biology.
** From the Yherajk standpoint, they are huge fans of human movies, TV shows and culture in general, partly because we are the first alien race they have encountered.

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* StarfishLanguage: The Yherajk communicate with one another by emitting complicated smells, with the identity of the "speaker" stated by a unique molecular marker. To a human, it all smells awful. The considerate Yherajk make nose plugs for all visiting humans.


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