|Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain||
Two nuclear missiles
The recent 4th of July holiday here in the USA brought this book to my mind. The story isn’t set during the Revolutionary War, but in the audiobook, Emperor Mollusk has a British accent, and he fights against The Sinister Brain, whose accent is American. Normally, I’m agnostic about how I ingest my science fiction stories: I listen to audiobooks while I’m driving or shoveling french fries into my face, and I read when I’m an airline passenger or any time I can relax by a pool or on the beach. However, this is one sci-fi book where the audio presentation really adds to the story. Emperor Mollusk’s character (perpetually bored) is reinforced every time he speaks in his upper-class British accent, and I also enjoyed The Sinister Brain’s cheesy over-the-top American accent.
I wasn’t kidding about Emperor Mollusk being bored; in one of the opening scenes, he kills a clone of himself — a clone he created so he’d have a worthy challenger. He saves the Earth several times during the course of the book, after inadvertently creating each of the threats with some sort of mad science experiment. The Emperor is small, soft, and squishy, so he usually solves problems by planning ahead, but he isn’t above climbing into a robotic fighting suit or flying saucer and using good old-fashioned violence.
The novel traverses most science fiction tropes. Dinosaurs, flying saucers, robots, aliens, brains in jars, time travel, a giant blob, mind control, the lost city of Atlantis, the Loch Ness Monster, sasquatch, a Tarzan-like character, and probably a dozen things I’ve forgotten all make appearances. This was probably intended as humor, but it came at me too fast and too randomly. I felt like I might have an attack of literature-induced epilepsy.
I also didn’t care for the “straight man” (although actually a female lizard-person) character who acted as a foil to some of the Emperor’s antics. I felt she was unnecessary, but it’s possible other readers won’t empathize with an alien cephalopod planetary ruler as much as I do.
This book is worth reading if you’d like to get into the mind of a mad-squid scientist character, or if you’d like a fast-paced run through classic science fiction elements. If you read sci-fi looking for new technologies or social structures to spark your imagination, you’ll want to look elsewhere.