Title || The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination
Series || ---
Editor || John Joseph Adams
Cover Art || ---
Publisher || Tor - 2013
First Printing || Tor - 2013
Category || Anthology
Warnings || None|
Main Elements || Mad Scientists |
- Professor Incognito Apologizes: An Itemized List
- Father of the Groom
- Laughter at the Academy
- Letter to the Editor
- Instead of a Loving Heart
- The Executor
- The Angel of Death Has a Business Plan
- Homo Perfectus
- Ancient Equations
- Rural Singularity
- Captain Justice Saves the Day
- The Mad Scientist's Daughter
- The Space Between
- Harry and Marlowe Meet the Founder of the Aetherian Revolution
- Blood & Stardust
- A More Perfect Union
- Rocks Fall
- We Interrupt this Broadcast
- The Last Dignity of Man
- The Pittsburgh Technology
- Mofongo Knows
- The Food Taster's Boy
From Victor Frankenstein to Lex Luthor, from Dr. Moreau to Dr. Doom, readers have long been fascinated by insane plans for world domination and the madmen who devise them. Typically, we see these villains through the eyes of good guys. This anthology, however, explores the world of mad scientists and evil geniuses—from their own wonderfully twisted point of view.
An all-star roster of bestselling authors—including Diana Gabaldon, Daniel Wilson, Austin Grossman, Naomi Novik, and Seanan McGuire…twenty-two great storytellers all told—have produced a fabulous assortment of stories guaranteed to provide readers with hour after hour of high-octane entertainment born of the most megalomaniacal mayhem imaginable.
Everybody loves villains. They’re bad; they always stir the pot; they’re much more fun than the good guys, even if we want to see the good guys win. Their fiendish schemes, maniacal laughter, and limitless ambition are legendary, but what lies behind those crazy eyes and wicked grins? How—and why—do they commit these nefarious deeds? And why are they so set on taking over the world?
If you've ever asked yourself any of these questions, you’re in luck: It’s finally time for the madmen’s side of the story.
For once, an anthology where the first story didn't turn me off, in fact it was so unusual I rather enjoyed it. "If you’re receiving this message then you have probably made a startling and disturbing discovery regarding the nature of my scientific work." A man apologizes to his girlfriend for hiding the fact that he was an evil mad genius whose secret laboratory she has just stumbled upon, and apologizes for a bunch of other things while he's at it, including a few embarassing family moments, it was quite funny and had a bit of a twist in it too.
The next story was a lot of laughs too. This time the mad scientist is the father of the groom, and the bride to be, well, she's a bit of a bridezilla, which gave said mad scientist some ideas related to an experiment he wanted to perform. Even just having a mad scientist as a father and husband was a funny thought, seeing as they clearly knew who was up to his usual antics.
Laughter at the Academy was a disappointment after the first two. It wasn't funny, but not only that it was quite disjointed and jumpy. It didn't help that I was reading this on my eReader while commuting so I had to keep putting it down. And on top of that, some character names got reused so I spent time thinking "but isn't he dead, is this a flashback??".
I loved Letter to the Editor, a mad scientist explaining all the different ways he was morally obliged to challenge the hero, because the hero (some kind of superman alien) would become to powerful if he didn't have to fight from time to time, and eventually just implode and destroy the world. However, our mad scientist couldn't outright destory said hero because he had to conceed that he did a lot of good in the world too. Just need to maintain the balance, see?
Instead of a Loving Heart is told from the point of view of one of the mad scientist's creations, an artist whose brain was transplanted into that of a robot (vaguely Dalek like), and who sees the risk of being replaced by a superior version. Interestingly, it is set during the Second World War, though that is a minor aspect.
I really didn't like the Executor. Not only was it very depressing, and I really didn't like the world it was in, but it just, dunno, wrapped up with too neat a bow? I mean the father just kept stuffing his kid into capsules (not that he had a choice). And the answer to the riddle was somehow too sweet and lovey dovey for a mad scientist that would create such an entity.
With The Angel of Death Has a Business Plan we're back to tongue in cheek fun. I loved how Angie would help out flounding and newbie villains tighten up their ransom speeches, or make sure their costumes were up to par. I mean we all need career counselors, no? That whole scene where she negotiates with the guy with the octopus (I'll scream in terror for the media if you drop me off at my next appointment on time, deal?). If you liked the Incredibles movie, this is the other half.
I guess I'm always a bit disappointed with the non-humourous stories, but Homo Perfectus didn't quite do it for me either. A bit of Dorian Grey I guess? And basically you're in the head of a guy who is all set to rape a woman after intoxicating her.
I...well can I say I enjoyed Ancient Equations? In fact it downright scared me, everything the mad scientist was saying was essentially true! But gotta love the ending. So after suffering through all the possible ways the 1% are destroying the world and the rest of us with it, raising an ancient goddess of destruction to be your mate may not quite be the solution the you're looking for...
Rural Singularity has a mad scientist of a different sort. Young, female, on a farm, and socially awkward but able to create amazing things in the back of a barn. Toss in a father who humours her and basically assumes her trinkets won't do anything bad, and a reporter, there to cover a few two headed chickens but is overcome by a desire to expose all...but then, he didn't listen...An unusual take on the theme.
Captain Justice Saves the Day is similar to The Angel of Death Has a Business Plan in that we have a support character, in this case a secretary to a mad scientist. Wasn't her choice of ideal job (and she eventually found that it wasn't any greener on the other side) but she was determined to be good at her job, barely batting an eye when asked to do something a little outside her job description. But maybe she could do more good than harm just where she was.
I thought The Mad Scientist's Daughter was great. Take all the classic mad scientists (Frankenstien, Moreau, etc) give them all daughters. Now have all the daughters meet up after their father's (and sometimes their own exagerated) demises and decide to live together in Victorian England. Finally, sit back and imagine the kinds of things they'd talk about, sitting around the fire discussing their families. Brilliant. Just wish I were more familiar with the original stories, I'd only read Frankenstein and Jeckyll/Hyde need to hunt down Moreau and Rappacini, and I don't even know Raymond at all.
Must admit The Space Between was by far the most boring of the stories, and a bit of a stretch to even be included in this anthology. At least I was familiar with the characters of Outlander, but I was still confused as to who everyone was. Unless you are reading this as an Outlander fan, you'll probably just find this long and pointless.
Harry and Marlowe Meet the Founder of the Aetherian Revolution, like The Space Between, is part of another series, though it is a series of short stories that can be found for free online. I enjoyed it and the only criticism I had was that it didn't keep with the theme of having the mad scientist as narrator, that this belonged more in the superhero equivalent anthology. But a little bit of steampunk doesn't hurt.
A More Perfect Union is told from the POV of the "Igor", but I didn't find it remotely interesting, just kind of monstrous. A More Perfect Union was also kind of boring, maybe if you're into political scientist and can consider them mad, but in the end I wasn't engaged.
Rocks Fall, where a dying superhero has a chat with the supervillain that defeated him. It was an interesting story (though still from the superhero POV rather than the villain's), got to see a little bit of the supervillain's side of the story, but in the end not as satisfying as other stories in the collection.
We Interrupt this Broadcast, where a computer programmer (using punch cards no less) decides to destroy a satelite using an asteroid to create a new world. The punch card bit was interesting, though I had someone point out the historical innacuracies. Since the premise is already and altered timeline I wasn't too picky about details, but I do believe that if an author tampers with timelines they need to explain how the alteration came about, otherwise it just looks like bad research.
The Last Dignity of Man, where a man named Alexander Luthor (but is not the fictional character) has serious identity issues, believes the world needs a real Lex Luthor, which might as well be him, to force a real Superman to come into existence. However, he's not actually an evil genius, so he has some moral issues with being the bad guy. Plus he's kind of in love with Superman. Overall an interesting though weird story.
The Pittsburgh Technology, where I didn't get the point. Man in a dead end job goes to a company that will make one little change in your life which will change everything forever. But what is that change, the girl that smiled at you? The dog that got run over by a car? In the end the guy was so traumatized about figuring out what that "moment" will be, even if there was one he missed it. No mad scientists though.
Mofongo Knows felt more on theme. Mad scientist gorilla was captured years ago and has spent his time in a zoo watched over by the now retired and alcholic superhero that defeated him. Interesting flashbacks and fun escape scene. Much supervillain fun.
The Food Taster's Boy discusses what happens after you've conquered the world and no longer have any superheroes to fight. Things get kind of boring. Maybe you can make a new superhero to challenge you...
"Professor Incognito Apologizes: An Itemized List"|
Author: Austin Grossman
Main Characters: Professor Incognito, Suzanne
"Father of the Groom"|
Author: Harry Turtledove
Main Characters: Tesla Kidder, Archie, Kate, Igor, Stacey
"Laughter at the Academy"|
Author: Seanan McGuire
Main Characters: Professor Clarissa Garrity
"Letter to the Editor"|
Author: David D. Levine
Main Characters: Doctor Talon
"Instead of a Loving Heart"|
Author: Jeremiah Tolbert
Main Characters: Z-03
Author: Daniel H. Wilson
Main Characters: Philip Drake
"The Angel of Death Has a Business Plan"|
Author: Heather Lindsley
Main Characters: Angie
Author: David Farland
Main Characters: S. Damian Chancellor
Author: L.A. Banks
Main Characters: Homo Perfectus
Author: Alan Dean Foster
Main Characters: Pat Gilcrease
"Captain Justice Saves the Day"|
Author: Genevieve Valentine
Main Characters: Brenda Bryce
"The Mad Scientist's Daughter"|
Author: Theodora Goss
Main Characters: Justine Frankenstein, Catherine Moreau, Beatrice Rappaccini, Mary Jekyll, Diana Hyde, Helen Raymond
"The Space Between"|
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Main Characters: Joan MacKimmie, Comte Rakoczy, Michael Murray
"Harry and Marlowe Meet the Founder of the Aetherian Revolution"|
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Main Characters: Harry, Marlowe
"Blood & Stardust"|
Author: Laird Barron
Main Characters: Mary
"A More Perfect Union"|
Author: L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Main Characters: Unammed
Author: Naomi Novik
Main Characters: James Wright Ellroy, Alexander Bane
"We Interrupt this Broadcast"|
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Main Characters: Fidel Dobes
"The Last Dignity of Man"|
Author: Marjorie M. Liu
Main Characters: Alexander Luthor
"The Pittsburgh Technology"|
Author: Jeffrey Ford
Main Characters: George Tisdale
Author: Grady Hendrix
Main Characters: Mofongo, Gorilla of the Mind
"The Food Taster's Boy"|
Author: Ben H. Winters
Main Characters: C.