First Contract

Posted by : atcampbell | On : October 16, 2001

First Contract by Greg Costikyan

Twelve people attended this discussion. First Contract is a humorous novel about aliens coming to Earth to establish peaceful trade relations. The cheap alien high-tech merchandise drives most Earthly businesses bankrupt. The story follows a former CEO trying to start a new business where he can compete with the aliens. Ten people at the meeting had read the book.

Most of us thought this was a lot of fun. The crazy business meetings seemed real. The former CEO’s journeys cause him to meet many interesting people, including some generous hippies and an unscrupulous art dealer who sells velvet paintings of Elvis for exorbitant prices to the aliens. Many of us enjoyed reading about the process of starting and growing a business. The story culminates in a wonderful interstellar trade show, where vendors have to pay for lots of extras in addition to their exhibit space: air, gravity, etc. Those of us who’d worked at conventions felt this was only a slight exaggeration.

This book wasn’t for everyone. A couple of people in the group just weren’t interested in reading about a guy running a company. Some of us found the descriptions of economic collapse were too real and hit too close to home to be entertaining. Several of us were disappointed that the protagonist didn’t grow as a person, retaining a pompous arrogance throughout the book.

In general we liked this book and would recommend it. It reminded some of us of the classic works of Pohl and Kornbluth such as The Space Merchants. After the meeting we had a wonderful dinner at Threadgill’s.

— A. T. Campbell, III