The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination

madsciA collection of short stories using Mad Science! as a collective theme.  As a big fan of mad science, I couldn’t resist.  Overall, I liked the book, with a couple of stories standing out.  Individual capsules follow.

Professor Incognito Apologizes: An Itemized List – Austin Grossman
I enjoyed this tale, more for the monologuing than anything else.  As a mad scientist apologizes to his fiance for his various past sins, it is difficult to say how much is truly apology and how much is mad science delusion.  Since we never hear the other side, we will never know.   

Father of the Groom – Harry Turtledove
Mad scientist creates a true Bridezilla.  Not as amusing as you might think.

Laughter at the Academy – Seanan McGuire
A mad social scientist wreaks havoc.  I found this one rather creepy in a well told horror tale sense.  Not my thing, but well done.

Letter to the Editor – David Levine
A dying mad scientist tries to convince us that the hero is the true danger.  It didn’t work for me, since the ‘evidence’ is referenced not spoken.

Instead of a Loving Heart – Jeremiah Tolbert
I thought this a sad story about a cyborg in the employ of a mad scientist.  He tries to get his humanity out in a variety of ways, but the constraints of his body limit him.  I liked it.

The Executor – Daniel Wilson
A story of intrigue over an inheritance.  I was reminded of Kiln People in that it was a sort of futuristic detective tale.  Not my thing, but reasonably well done.

The Angel of Death Has a Business Plan – Heather Lindsley
A somewhat bizarre tale of a super villain wanna be making ends meet in the big city by giving monologue coaching to other super villain wanna bes.  The various villains are amusing, and the protagonist gets what she wants in the end.

Homo Perfectus – David Farland
I didn’t care for this tale of, quite honestly, borderline drug induced date rape.  Ew.

Ancient Equations – L. A. Banks
A determined scholar finds the secret to summoning the old gods – and gets what he deserves.  A bit predictable, to be honest.

Rural Singularity – Alan Dean Foster
My favorite story in the book, a journalist discovers a teenage hick girl genius working in nowhere, New Mexico.  Remember, touch *nothing* in the secret lab.

Captain Justice Saves The Day – Genevieve Valentine
The story of a super villain’s secretary.  The villain was far too similar to the various program managers I deal with at work for me to enjoy this story.  Both he and Captain Justice were disturbingly pathetic, which I suppose was the author’s objective, but not much fun.

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter – Theodora Goss
The hypothetical tale of how daughters of Victorian England’s greatest mad scientists (Ms. Frankenstein, Ms. Moreau, etc.) live together in London.  Actually, a bit boring.

The Space Between – Diana Gabaldon
By far the longest tale in the volume, at the end I found myself wondering what had happened.  Set in eighteenth century Paris, the story seemed to be one of intrigue with too many moving parts to complete in a mere 84 pages.  While the main story line concluded, almost every side story was left hanging – rather unsatisfying overall.

Harry and Marlowe Meet The Founder of the Aetherian Revolution – Carrie Vaughn
The steampunkiest of the stories, the Princess of Wales and her companion visit a brilliant scientist locked up by the crown to find out why.  With some action, they determine that he is absolutely bonkers.  A fun story.

Blood & Stardust – Laird Barron
A dark story about the creation/minion of a mad scientist.  Despising her role, she plots intricately to break free of his control.  Well told, but too dark for me.

A More Perfect Union – L. E. Modesitt
A mad political scientist in action.  Well, really a world gone mad taken advantage of by a political scientist.  The things that make the take over a success I found wholly implausible.  Not good.

Rocks Fall – Naomi Novik
A super villain and super hero are trapped together in a collapsed building.  They get to talking and find they have more in common than the hero would have guessed.  Overall, a good tale.

We Interrupt This Broadcast – Mary Robinette Kowal
A scientist and his assistant reprogram a rocket with punchcards to save the world from nuclear annihlation.  Sort of.  Very 1950s.

The Last Dignity of Man – Marjorie Liu
The story of Lex Luthor, with no Superman as his foil.  What does he fight?  Why, the fools in the government, of course.  Too much of a personality analysis of this Lex Luthor for me.

The Pittsburgh Technology – Jeffery Ford
A man undergoes a subtle treatment to improve his life as a grocery store clerk.  In the end, he gets the improvement he deserves.  I found this rather predictable.

Mofongo Knows – Grady Hendrix
Story of Mofongo, the gorilla genius villian as a sideshow exhibit years run by his nemesis, Steve Savage.  Steve dies, and Mofongo needs to figure out what he is going to do next.  I thought it a nice story of redemption, but it may not have been intended that way.

The Food Taster’s Boy – Ben Winters
A subtle story of revenge.  Too subtle for me to get.  Elements of torture made this story rather distasteful for me.


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