Ironic alien-contact yarn from the computer-game designer and author of By the Sword (1993). Johnson Mukerjii has the world by the tail: he's a gourmet and connoisseur, successful businessman, and confidante of the surfer-dude president of the US—until the aliens arrive. The aliens, it emerges, are capitalists, willing to sell their advanced technology to anyone who can pay. To them, Earth is no more than an impoverished galactic third-world backwater. Earth industries can't compete with alien know-how, and high-tech firms lead the worldwide crash. Unemployment hits 50%, Mukerjii's company craters while his wife vanishes with the liquid assets. He survives as a soup-kitchen cook in a shantytown, but he has an idea: What can Earth sell the aliens that they haven't already got? How about a self-adhering plastic holder for a null-gravity drink bulb-the Mukerjii Drink Valet? Finance is a problem. He visits well-connected right-wing military SF writer Leander Huff (the aliens like him-they think he's an amusing idiot) and relieves him of some startup money. He sets up an operation in Mexico, then sells the Drink Valet wherever aliens congregate. But the really big sales can only be made off-planet, and to visit a galactic trade show he'll need to scrape up a $100 million. And the money, Mukerjii soon learns, is the least of his problems.
Engaging, amusing, and not too far off-kilter to make sense. Expect sequels.