Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain

Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain

‘EMPEROR MOLLUSK VERSUS THE SINISTER BRAIN’


JUMP TO SECTION:

OPENING LINE:

Emperor Mollusk wants you to know, among other things, that he did not win World War II by punching out Gorilla Hitler nor did he play with Hendrix at Woodstock in ’69.


PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY:

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!
©2012 A. Lee Martinez (P)2012 Audible, Inc.


THE PLOT:

How do I even begin to describe Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain? I might call it a science fiction/fantasy comedic adventure that is ripe with satire but grounded in reality. However, Emperor Mollusk would probably say that was a bit much.
There is a lot packed into a book that has a running time of just over 7 hours. There are death rays and dinosaurs, Doomsday devices and time travel. I found myself asking what would happen if the overly apologetic monks came across the Atlantese citizens who cope with tragedy through litigation. I haven’t even mention the council of egos or the giant robot powered by the radioactive brain of Madam Curie.
The realistic elements of this book are things that I very much appreciate. At one point, when his pet ultrapede Snarg is attacking him under the influence of hypnotic gas, Emperor Mollusk wishes that he hadn’t made her so indestructible. Such is the technology found in this version of our universe. Anything that can be made with the hope of benefiting civilization can also bring with it an entirely new set of unintended consequences. It is hard not to ponder this truth whenever your computer crashes. I particularly enjoyed a scene where we find out what can happen when you overdo it a little on the mind control.
The book does tackle some serious questions. What do we do when we don’t find ourselves being challenged anymore? In many ways this is the real problem that Emperor Mollusk faces as the plot unfolds. It turns out that your ability to conquer a world might not be as important as knowing what to do with it once it is under your control.
I also appreciated the character interaction between Emperor Mollusk and the Venusian soldier Zala. Zala first comes to Mollusk with the intent of bringing him to justice for crimes he committed while trying to conquer Venus. Then she becomes his reluctant bodyguard and after awhile they start to sound like an old married couple. Their relationship even survives Mollusk having Zala’s brain removed because as he notes, he did put it back.
It is a credit to the author that a character like Mollusk can be likable at all. He has a giant ego that can only be matched by the list of lives he has ended and mistakes he has made. Yes, he did wipe out a significant portion of the population of Saturn but it is handled in such away that it is hard to dislike him for it. Unless of course, you happen to be one of the Saturnites left to cope with the aftermath.
The plot, such as it is, serves mostly as a reason to visit a series of set pieces. This is fine because each one of these is interesting, memorable and a lot of fun. As the novel winds down, we even find it willing to take a swipe at itself in a conversation between Emperor and Zala.


THE AUTHOR:

A friend recommended this one to me. Ironically, she has never read ‘Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain’ but is a fan of some of A. Lee Martinez’s other work. After reading this one it is easy for me to understand his appeal.
I appreciated the amount of humor and satire I found in the story. I am sure I missed some of the satirical points or homages to other works of science fiction but that just means I have a reason to read this book again in the future. I did find it quite enjoyable when Mollusk told Zala at one point that he found her lack of faith disturbing. I’m sure Emperor would tell you that Darth Vader stole that line from him.
If ‘Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain’ is a representative sample of Martinez’s work as a whole, then I will eagerly read more of his work in the future.


THE NARRATION:

This is the first book narrated by Scott Aiello that I have ever heard. A quick search of Audible told me that he currently has 47 books under his belt and that ‘Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain’ was his audiobook debut. He may be a relative newcomer to audiobook narration but he does have some notable television credits including: ‘Person of Interest’, ‘Elementary’ and ‘The Newsroom’.
Aiello delivers a fantastic performance and may be a hidden jem among audiobook narrators. He uses a lot of impressive accents and other vocal performances to give each character a very distinct level of personality. I enjoyed the British accent he used for the Emperor and the amount of disdain he put in Zala’s voice throughout the story. I found his performance so believable that I had to find other samples of his work to determine his real accent.
Simply stating that I enjoyed his performance might be understating the fact. I came away from this book very impressed with his abilities and look forward to hearing him again in the future.


THE PRODUCTION:

I don’t have a lot of comments to make about the audio track. There are music cues at the beginning and end of the book. There are no sound effects used at any point. I don’t particularly mind when they are used in a story such as this but I know that their inclusion can be a turnoff to some people. Otherwise, the chapter stops are all where you would hope they would be.


FINAL THOUGHTS:

‘Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain’ is just a fun book to read. There is humorous dialog and incredible situations. As I read the book and got distracted by other things, I always found myself eager to return to this universe. I could not wait to see what interesting location or off the wall character I would encounter next. In terms of pure entertainment value, this may be the most enjoyable book I have read all year.


QUICK FACTS:

Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre Release Date Running Time Score
Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain A. Lee Martinez Scott Aiello Audible Studios Science Fiction 03/05/2012 7 hours, 21 minutes 9.25/10

DISCLAIMER:

A copy of ‘Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain’ was purchased from Audible for review.

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