Agent to the Stars

Book: By John Scalzi.

Inciting Event: Rising young Hollywood agent Tom Stein is given the assignment of representing the Yherajk, a friendly, stinky, glob-like alien race who want to make contact with humans without scaring them to death.

The set-up here is fairly quick. We have an opening scene, establishing Tom in his Normal World, where he has just scored a record deal for his intellectually challenged bombshell client Michelle Beck. From there, he is immediately funneled into the next scene—a meeting with his boss—which will introduce the main alien Joshua and Tom’s first brush with the conflict: introduce Earth to the aliens.

First Plot Point: This is the weakest plot point in the book. We have two relatively prominent events: Tom is smeared by an industry tabloid and Joshua disappears in the woods with the neighbor’s old dog. But neither really move Tom into greater contact with the conflict.

First Pinch Point: Again, not much happening structurally. This segment is primarily taken up with Tom’s boss’s story about how he met the aliens and helped create Joshua.

Midpoint: Finally, the plot kicks into gear. Joshua returns—only now he’s Ralph the dog. Ralph died of a heart attack, and when Joshua realized he couldn’t save him, he took over Ralph’s body (with Ralph’s permission). This opens up a new can of worms and a new can of possibilities about Joshua’s abilities.

Second Pinch Point: Tom’s client, Michelle, suffers an accident that renders her comatose. This is totally a subplot development, but it ends up tying into the main plot so tightly that it’s still a pertinent structural moment.

Third Plot Point: Tom comes up with a genius plan to give Joshua the now brain-dead Michelle’s body. When Joshua refuses on ethical grounds, they come to the agreement of taking Michelle’s body up to the mothership and letting the Yherajks vote on the proper solution.

Climax: The Yherajks agree to let Joshua take over Michelle’s body. Everyone then returns to Earth, where “Michelle” tries out for an Oscar-bait part, which she totally aces.

Climactic Moment: In her Oscars acceptance speech for Best Actress, Michelle reveals herself to be an alien. Earth accepts the Yherajks, mostly with equanimity.

Resolution: Tom marries his girlfriend, becomes the most prestigious agent ever, and fields calls from the President.

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