fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsEmperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister BrainEmperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez

Everyone knows that that the invertebrates of Neptune are the most intelligent minds in the galaxy. That’s how, years ago, a bored mollusk from Neptune was able to conquer the Earth and set himself up as Warlord. To subdue the planet he had to use a few nasty tricks such as doping the water supply with anti-aggression drugs, but now that he has all of humanity under his tentacle, Emperor Mollusk is actually a pretty swell guy and he has even developed a soft spot (or should I say “softer spot”) for planet Earth, though he’ll be quick to tell you that he’s not reformed — just retired. Nowadays, he spends most of his time tinkering in his laboratory and coming up with ways to solve Earth’s numerous problems. He fixed the energy crisis long ago and so far he’s been able to protect Earth from aliens from Mars, Venus, and Saturn. Pretty good for a slimy cephalopod that you could easily squash under the heel of your boot.

Unfortunately, most of Emperor Mollusk’s experiments on Earth tend to cause unexpected and dastardly consequences, and the emperor usually ends up needing to develop even more brilliant solutions to the problems he created. Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain is an account of the Emperor’s various adventures as he attempts to save humans from all the disasters that would not have befallen them if the Emperor had never set his slippery tentacle on the planet in the first place. Disasters such as an island of radioactive dinosaurs, giant fireants, missing countries, an anti-time radio, and the rampaging brain of Madam Curie. He even has to deal with assassins from Atlantis, killer scorpions, a clone of himself, and the sinister brain who wants to challenge him for world domination.

Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain, A. Lee Martinez’s newest novel, is a hilariously wacky story with a preposterous premise, impossible characters, and an absurd plot. I’m rather picky about humorous fantasy so I’m surprised that I enjoyed the non-stop comedy here, but Martinez has his pacing down and he knows exactly when to stop. I like Martinez’s bizarre situations and droll sense of humor, and he balances all of it with a well-developed protagonist who we can’t help but love, even though he’s slimy (literally) and he keeps telling us he’s an evil overlord.

Fans of Douglas Adams’ THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY shouldn’t miss Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain. Let me highly recommend the audio version produced by Audible Frontiers and performed by actor Scott Aiello. This was the first time I’d heard Mr. Aiello (he is a new narrator) and I was extremely impressed with his performance — he made the novel even funnier. He was absolutely perfect for this role and I look forward to hearing more from him in the future.

Emperor Mollusk Vs. the Sinister Brain — (2012) Publisher: Emperor Mollusk. Intergalactic Menace. Destroyer of Worlds. Conqueror of Other Worlds. Mad Genius. Ex-Warlord of Earth. Not bad for a guy without a spine. But what’s a villain to do after he’s done… everything. With no new ambitions, he’s happy to pitch in and solve the energy crisis or repel aliens invaders should the need arise, but if he had his way, he’d prefer to be left alone to explore the boundaries of dangerous science. Just as a hobby, of course. Retirement isn’t easy though. If the boredom doesn’t get him, there’s always the Venusians. Or the Saturnites. Or the Mercurials. Or… well, you get the idea. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s also the assassins of a legendary death cult and an up-and-coming megalomaniac (as brilliant as he is bodiless) who have marked Emperor for their own nefarious purposes. But Mollusk isn’t about to let the Earth slip out of his own tentacles and into the less capable clutches of another. So it’s time to dust off the old death ray and come out of retirement. Except this time, he’s not out to rule the world. He’s out to save it from the peril of THE SINISTER BRAIN!


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.