Mad scientists have never had it so tough. In super-hero comics, graphic novels, films, TV series, video games, and even works of what may be fiction, they are besieged by those who stand against them, devoid of sympathy for their irrational, megalomaniacal impulses to rule, destroy, or otherwise dominate the world as we know it.
Dr. Frankenstein was the first truly mad scientist of the modern era. And what did it get him? Destroyed by his own creation. And Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo, a man ahead of his time as well as out of his head — what did he do to deserve persecution?
Even Lex Luthor, by all accounts a genius, has been hindered not once, not twice, but so many times that it has taken hundreds of comic books, a few films, and no fewer than ten full seasons of a television series to keep him properly thwarted.
It’s just not fair. So those of us who are so twisted and sick that we love mad scientists have created this guide. Some of the names have been changed to protect the guilty, but you’ll recognize them. It doesn’t matter, though. This guide is not for you. It’s for them: the underhanded, over-brained paranoiacs who so desperately need our help.
What lies behind those unfocused, restless eyes and drooling, wicked grins? Why — and how — do they concoct their nefarious plots? Why are they so set on taking over the world? If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, you’re in luck, because we are exposing their secrets, aiding and abetting their evil. It all awaits, within.
Watch out, world!
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About the Author
JOHN JOSEPH ADAMS is the bestselling editor of Wastelands, Under the Moons of Mars, Seeds of Change, The Living Dead, The Way of the Wizard, By Blood We Live, and The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. He's a two-time finalist for the Hugo and a three-time finalist for the World Fantasy Award. He is also the publisher and editor of Lightspeed Magazine, and the co-host of Wired.com's "The Geek's Guide to the Galaxy" podcast. He lives in Coastal Central California.
Read an Excerpt
The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination
Original Short Fiction for the Modern Evil Genius
By John Joseph Adams
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2013 John Joseph Adams
All rights reserved.
PROFESSOR INCOGNITO APOLOGIZES: AN ITEMIZED LIST
If you're receiving this message then you have probably made a startling and disturbing discovery regarding the nature of my scientific work.
Please forgive the unsettling nature of my appearance — the holographic projector is my own invention and probably very lifelike apart from the change in scale, which I believe lends a dramatic effect. I understand if it initially gave rise to confusion, panic, or small-arms fire. Needless to say — I have to add this — your puny human weapons are powerless against me.
I am recording this because I just gave you the key to my place, and although we've had the "boundaries talk" several times these things still happen and I wanted to have a chance to explain.
To get this far, you must have found the false wall I put in at the back of the bedroom closet. You must have pushed aside the coats and things, found the catch and pulled it aside to see the access shaft and the rungs leading downward to an unknown space deep beneath this apartment complex.
Did you hesitate before descending? Perhaps you still supposed this might be a city maintenance tunnel — strange, but surely more plausible than what followed. You must have started the elevator manually. (I've always admired your resourcefulness at moments like this.) And then you would have had to guess the combination to the vault door; tricky, but then of course you would know your own birthday. So maybe then you realized where you were, as the vault door opened and the rush of escaping air ruffled your black hair, and you crept inside, lips parted, flashlight at the ready. And you heard the electrical arcs sizzle and smelt ozone, and the glow of strange inventions cast a purple light onto your face, and you found yourself standing inside my secret laboratory.
Maybe this is for the best, you know? I think you should sit down — not on the glowing crystal! — and we can talk. This may take a while but fortunately the silent countdown you've triggered is quite lengthy.
I completely agree that this is very legitimate breakup material. I know that's what Kris would say — will say — she's said it about a lot less. Plenty of people — say, InterPol or the federal government, or the Crystal Six — would take matters much, much further. They've certainly tried.
This isn't the first time I've faced discovery. Secret identities are fragile things; you set up a dividing line in your life that can collapse in an instant, that can never be reestablished. You yourself have already come close to the secret so many times, come so close to stumbling into the clandestine global conflict that is my nightly pursuit.
(The hero Nebula came close to unmasking me in Utah, before I lost her in the depths of the Great Salt Lake. In Gdansk I matched wits with Detective Erasmus Kropotkin. But always I knew you, Suzanne, were the greatest threat to my domination of the world.)
In any case, I'm afraid this knowledge will do you no good. As I am constantly having to inform people.
I said "explain" but I think I really mean "apologize." And, truthfully, most of my apologies aren't very sincere. Typically I make them just before or after an unspeakably evil act. Before hurling a helpless superhero off a tall building, I say things like, "Please forgive my rudeness," as a kind of facetious witticism, a quip to break the inevitable tension.
I'm going to try and be more sincere this time, partly on the advice of our Doctor Kagan but also out of a sense that if I owe anyone on this terrestrial globe, which I will shortly crush with the burning talons of pure science, an apology, it is you.
So I'd like to issue this apology regarding my rudeness, a boilerplate phrase but maybe on this occasion it can stand in for all the small inevitable, innumerable items that must go unsaid in this list: toilet seats left up, dinners missed, gestures of tenderness that went unmade when they were needed most. And, yes, for the mighty and terrible engines that must, even now, be warping through the ether toward your pitiful planet.
In the interest of precision and sincerity I'd like to itemize this list as far as possible, which I know is a little too much like one of our counseling sessions. I know you're probably going to break up with me again. But please, bear with me.
* * *
I, Professor Incognito, hereby issue apologies regarding the following:
RE: ANY CONFUSION YOU MAY BE EXPERIENCING AT THIS MOMENT
It must be a shock to learn that the person you think of as your hardworking, decent (perhaps a bit dull) fiancé is in reality the terrifying, fascinating, inexplicably attractive figure of Professor Incognito. You've heard of me, I suppose? A name synonymous with evil and brilliance the world over? I hope so. I made a point of mentioning it enough times.
I think — and I think Doctor Kagan would agree — that this might be really, really good for our relationship. You often spoke of a remoteness about me, a part you simply couldn't reach. Maybe that was the reason you were attracted to me in the first place, that you sensed on some level a mysterious unknowable chamber you couldn't find a way into. On some level you guessed what it might be, that I had hidden away my glittering machines, seething chemical vats, the mutation ray in a place you'd never reach.
Of course you did. People have levels, you would say. Engineering levels, generator levels. Hydroponics.
RE: WHAT HAPPENED AT DINNER WITH YOUR PARENTS THE OTHER NIGHT
Your father's remarks about Martians were both irresponsible and uninformed, but that's no excuse for how I reacted. But, and at the risk of repeating myself: the Martians are an ancient and noble culture who built golden pyramids long before human life appeared in North America.
RE: ANY SLIGHT UNAVOIDABLE DECEPTION
It didn't start out this way. In the beginning everything was much as it appeared to be. I was a young physics researcher with a hopeless crush on a brilliant colleague. It would have been ridiculous, even if I weren't five foot four, even if I weren't maybe the most awkward individual on the planet. I would never have dared speak to you. That first kiss outside the student center is still as miraculous to me as the sunrise might have been to our primitive ancestors, long before science simultaneously cleared everything up and made it all more confusing.
And it's strange because it was on the very day of that kiss that I had the first whisper of the insight that would make my career, crack open reality, and ultimately lead us to this conversation.
I knew, before anything else, two things: one, that it was the greatest scientific discovery in a hundred years, and two, that you could never, ever be told of it.
RE: OUR DATE ON THE EVENING OF JANUARY 25 2007
Yes, I was irritable and distracted at dinner, and I didn't listen properly to your story about Eileen and the paper's managing editor, whatever his name was, which I think, in retrospect, was more entertaining than I gave it credit for. It's not an excuse, but that was the day of my first experimental proof of concept. I had discovered there is — layman's terms: a gap in the world — a space between the atoms ... if you knew where to look for it. A scientific principle with endless applications for the manipulation of matter and energy.
I could have told you about it, and I didn't. I still don't entirely know why. There were legal reasons, of course; you would have been an accessory under the law. And my secrets were dangerous. I'd be protecting you as much as myself. But I'll be honest: as my career progressed those reasons came to matter less and less. I know now that I can protect you in other ways, that the law can be bought, my enemies crushed or intimidated.
You were the most important person in my life, the one who knew me most intimately. Why couldn't I tell you? Maybe I was afraid you would contact the authorities. Or steal my ideas. Or call me insane.
Maybe I knew you wouldn't choose me if you knew everything about me. And maybe being in love means you never get to be a whole person again. The moment we met I became two people: the one I decided could be with you, and the one left over, the person I am by myself. A person who I could never, ever let you meet, and who became the greatest criminal genius the world has ever seen. I used to marvel at that fact that you didn't have a hidden side, that you're the same all the way through. How can a person not have a secret and glorious part of themselves that the world absolutely must not see?
In three more weeks I had a working blaster, and we met to see Hannah and Her Sisters at the Regent. I fell asleep on your shoulder, dreaming the genetic code for a race of sentient tigers.
I don't know how we each ended up thinking the other was a light opera fan. And in my defense, the reviews were very positive — I think the word "rollicking" appeared more than once. Believe me, I died a trillion deaths as we sat there together and watched undergraduate theater majors milk a comic Gothic pastiche for cheap laughs.
It was late fall, and when we met outside the theater your cheeks stood out pink against your dark green overcoat. We left our coats on inside, and all I remember of the play was feeling the cheap stiff wool of mine brushing up against your shoulder. Afterward, I walked you back to your dorm and we lamely joked about how bad it had been, and you couldn't see how flushed my face was.
That was the day my prototype force field stuttered into life, and I'd laughed and fired a dozen test bullets, then had to blame the gunpowder smell on my roommate's cigarettes. You sent me home.
Pausing on your doorstep, I looked up at the stars, clear and bright in the Midwestern sky, and began to formulate the glittering digital architecture that would become Craniac XII. But I foresaw neither its first words, nor its tragic final act.
RE: THE FATE OF YOUR MUCH-VAUNTED CAPTAIN ATOM.
Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha. Well, maybe I won't apologize for that.
(There are frequencies of sound inaudible to the unaugmented senses of homo sapiens. But you knew that, didn't you?)
RE: MY METHODS
Crude, perhaps? Not so wholesome as you would prefer? You don't even know the history of the world I live in and the conflict that formed it. The moment you commit a crime in a costume you see new truths about the world. You probably think Mage-President Nixon never reached the moon.
Consider: Do you remember that weekend, we drove for four hours in a snowstorm to visit your brother and his wife. We went the last two hours without talking, not angry — just in a shared reverie as the world darkened and we felt like the one warm dry place in an infinite plane of blue-white snow and black trees and wet, gritty highway.
You didn't know it, but Iluvatar was following us — one of the Mystic Seven — but she knew I wasn't going to try anything. She lagged behind, further and further back into the dusk and the storm.
We drove on. I thought about how much power an Unspace generator could make; I thought about what kind of treads a cybertank should have to cross this terrain, and if your brother was going to be a jerk to me the entire time, and how many human skulls would go into making a really nice throne, and whether there was enough power in all Unspace to get me through this weekend, and if Craniac XIV could untangle all the messed-up stuff in your family.
RE: ANY INCONVENIENCE I MAYBE CAUSING YOU
Yes, well, you see, I haven't mentioned it but you may be staying here quite a while. Don't try to run. Do feel free to explore, though. Given what you've said about my housekeeping in the past, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
You know I don't like to boast, but I'm really pretty proud of this place. I broke ground on the first chamber and a simple ventilation system while you were at your mother's in Baltimore, but since then it's actually gotten quite extensive. When the construction robots really got going, it all just spiraled — a generator room, shock chambers, plasma containment, the xenoapiary, the panopticon, the emergency launch tubes. The catacombs below the lower level seem to be naturally occurring, but I never quite got to the bottom of some funny seismic readings. Best not be too curious.
What you're seeing is the real thing I built during the better part of our life together. We'd see a movie or have our study night and around 2 a.m. I'd come back here, get into costume, and duck into the secret passageway. Sometimes I'd still be spacey and distracted for a while but I eventually I'd shake it off and spend three or four hours adjusting the nutrient fluid for a dinosaur embryo, or trying to tune in to the exact broadcast frequency of a dying star, or laying the plans for another sub-basement. I'd get the robots going on the next phase then emerge through one of the four exits on Linden Street to see the sun coming up. I'd get a coffee then hurry through the quad to introduce freshmen to the basic equations of sound propagation. Then home to sleep, to wake up in the afternoon to see you again.
It was perfect in a lot of ways; I'm sad it's over.
It wasn't easy. There were more last-minute costume changes than I can tell you. We'd have coffee and I'd be shaking off the effect of a stun-ray, or waiting for news of my unmasking. The heroes knew for a fact I lived in this area. Captain Atom even snooped around our department at school, asking after anyone who kept strange hours, had strange ideas and perhaps a lack of interest in social activities. It would have been obvious if only they had been looking for a real person — they were looking for a stereotype. My precautions were effective but I think you were the real reason they never picked up on who I was.
I liked being your boyfriend. There were the times when it was absolutely the most blissful moment a person could have to leave the lab and know I'd be having a dinner with you. When we walked in the street holding hands, I'd want to check to see if people were watching just so they'd know how lucky I was.
And then, of course, there were the times when I felt like I was trapped inside a collapsing star which is in my own brain and threatened my ability to even think original thoughts, when it felt like I'd made the most awful mistake in the world.
I know there must be a way to have a relationship that truly works, and I have faith that, with your understanding — and the aid of my Martian allies — we can find it. (More on that presently.)
RE: WHAT OUR COUPLES THERAPIST CONSIDERS AN INADEQUATE EFFORT AT COMMUNICATION
I understand why you left, that first time. You knew there was something missing, and I knew it too. I just couldn't tell you.
There have been a hundred moments when I was on the brink of telling you. I tried to say the words out loud. I knew you were a physics major and all, but I didn't think you'd be into it — power and wrongdoing — it was too strange. And I admit, a part of me worries that if I told you about it, the secret part of me would disappear.
And it's too complicated now. If I'd just told you at the very start, maybe you could have understood, but now? After the diggings and archenemies and sea planes ... If I started now I'd have to explain how I came to speak Mandarin and what happened to my original eyes. It's gone a little far.
I have my problems with Doctor Kagan, as I know you do too, but we agreed to keep seeing him and we will, although that may prove more awkward in the days to come.
RE: THE BREAKUP, MY REACTION TO SAME, AND THE ENSUING STATEWIDE "CARNIVAL OF CRIME" (SO-CALLED)
I think it was harder on me than it was on you. I tried to channel the feeling into my work. I went out and met new people and tried new things. I no longer had to sleep or take breaks except on missions and to make my teaching schedule, which I'm proud of having kept up. It's harder than you think for a being of pure scientific evil to hold regular office hours. You remember the day I asked you to take me back? You can thank Detective Kropotkin for that humbling moment. The night before, I had snapped the lock of his office door and was busy dusting his things with my nanotech powder. It happened that Kropotkin was waiting for me. He'd come in to work late, unable to sleep. He stood in the doorway looking especially seedy, a checked wool coat pulled on over his pajamas, but the revolver steady in his grip. It's so obvious Kropotkin is an asshole, even his allies feel sorry for him. He honestly thinks living alone and playing drunk chess on the Internet makes him a tragic hero.
Excerpted from The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination by John Joseph Adams. Copyright © 2013 John Joseph Adams. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
PROFESSOR INCOGNITO APOLOGIZES: AN ITEMIZED LIST Austin Grossman,
FATHER OF THE GROOM Harry Turtledove,
LAUGHTER AT THE ACADEMY Seanan McGuire,
LETTER TO THE EDITOR David D. Levine,
INSTEAD OF A LOVING HEART Jeremiah Tolbert,
THE EXECUTOR Daniel H. Wilson,
THE ANGEL OF DEATH HAS A BUSINESS PLAN Heather Lindsley,
HOMO PERFECTUS David Farland,
ANCIENT EQUATIONS L. A. Banks,
RURAL SINGULARITY Alan Dean Foster,
CAPTAIN JUSTICE SAVES THE DAY Genevieve Valentine,
THE MAD SCIENTIST'S DAUGHTER Theodora Goss,
THE SPACE BETWEEN Diana Gabaldon,
HARRY AND MARLOWE MEET THE FOUNDER OF THE AETHERIAN REVOLUTION Carrie Vaughn,
BLOOD & STARDUST Laird Barron,
A MORE PERFECT UNION L. E. Modesitt, Jr.,
ROCKS FALL Naomi Novik,
WE INTERRUPT THIS BROADCAST Mary Robinette Kowal,
THE LAST DIGNITY OF MAN Marjorie M. Liu,
THE PITTSBURGH TECHNOLOGY Jeffrey Ford,
MOFONGO KNOWS Grady Hendrix,
THE FOOD TASTER'S BOY Ben H. Winters,
ALSO EDITED BY JOHN JOSEPH ADAMS,
ABOUT THE EDITOR,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Not done with reading it yet, but at a little past the halfway point, i can say this, this made for great reading over coffee. my friend kept looking up from her reading as i snorted, chuckled, or laughed as i read about what pitfalls to watch out for if i, you know, want to be come a mad scientist.
One of the shorts was from my favorite author Diana Gabaldon, so it was good to have something that follows the outlander series while I wait for her next book.
I enjoyed the concept behind the collection, and the variety of stories contained there in. Some where in fact excellent but overall nothing particularly groundbreaking, but a good collection to read. Especially if you wanted a good sampling of what a mad scientist could be, in reference to creating a character for your purposes.
Fresh perspectives and surprising takes on a neglected source of characters.
He must be tapping my phone, reading my mail, and monitoring my thoughts ... or he has an uncanny knack for choosing the stories I like. Even if you are not into world domination (and really who isn't) these stories are certain to entertain. If you ARE into world domination, these stories can show possible consequences of actions you may want to avoid.
Some stories were great some left me wondering what have I just read. All and all a fun read, especially if you are looking to burn 10 to 15 minutes of time.
fun read but many stories leave you hanging
This is a brilliantly crafted collection of a widr variety of styles and genrel
Yes, hero stories do need a nemesis and the mad scientist is at the top of the list. Great collection of diverse mad scientist stories.
Sneaks by and goes there.
who doesn't *secrectly* love the villians in all books?
Kitnap darkkit at viperclan res one please
Join away. U can make anything or do anything sciency or whatever. Just have sum fun
A dark grey tom padds in. "I would like to help you..." he mews smoothly