The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination edited by John Joseph Adams
John Joseph Adams collected this fine assortment of short stories which, contrary to the title, are more about how not to succeed as a Mad Scientist/Evil Genius/Super Villain. While I hadn’t considered it much before, the life of a master villain is not easy, nor necessarily happy.
The (mostly original) stories range quite a bit, including slapstick comedy, parody, fantasy, and a couple of pretty dark psychological studies. The comic pieces are particularly well written and enjoyable.
An Evil Genius is vilified in stories, used as a foil for simplistic “heroes”, and generally little comprehended. These stories offer insights into some of the all too human loneliness, misunderstood motives, and need for love of these (mostly) men. They have the same foibles as you and I, just coupled to a freakishly high IQ and amazing talents—a formula for trouble, for sure. Others are merely pitiable, sad cases brought to wickedness by bad luck or abuse.
In short, they come off as way, way too human.
Adams’ authors have also brought in some new and contemporary spins on the life of a Mad Scientist. Science isn’t just physics, chemistry, and abnormal biology. Mad Psychologists and Social Scientists are just as scary, and possibly more dangerous than Frankenstein.
We also see that there are a fine array of new age “Igors” collaborating with these big brains. What with computers, consultants, politicians, and corporate managers, Madness and Evil can be enabled in many ways.
But don’t let me make this sound deeper than it is. This is mainly an entertaining collection of stories, by authors who clearly enjoyed the call to consider this familiar trope from an unusual angle.
- John Joseph Adams, ed. The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination. TOR: New York, 2013.
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