Book Review: John Joseph Adams’ The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination

Posted June 28, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: John Joseph Adams’ The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination


Alan Dean Foster, Austin Grossman, Ben H. Winters, Carrie Vaughan, Daniel H. Wilson, David D. Levine, David Farland, Diana Gabaldon, Fenevieve Valentine, Grady Hendrix, Harry Turtledove, Heather Lindsley, Jeffrey Ford, Jeremiah Tolbert, John Joseph Adams, L.A. Banks, L.E. Modesitt Jr., Laird Barron, Marjorie M. Liu, Mary Robinette Kowal, Naomi Novik, Seanan McGuire, Theodora Goss

It is part of the Outlander #7.5 series and is a science fiction in Paperback edition that was published by Tor Books on February 19, 2013 and has 368 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books in this series include The Scottish Prisoner, MatchUp

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Dangerous Women, Lord John and the Hand of Devils, The Scottish Prisoner, Seven Stones to Stand or Fall, Bombs Away, The Living Dead, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015, Death's Excellent Vacation, Chicks Kick Butt, Aftertaste, Darkness Calls, A Wild Light, In the Dark of Dreams, Huntress, Wild Thing, Within the Flames, Never After, An Apple for the Creature, Mortal Bone, Holidays are Hell, "A Dream of Stone & Shadow", Labyrinth of Stars, His Majesty's Dragon, Throne of Jade, Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory, Victory of Eagles, Tongues of Serpents, Crucible of Gold, Blood of Tyrants, Home Improvement: Undead Edition, Indexing, Half-Off Ragnarok, Midway Relics and Dying Breeds, Games Creatures Play, The Winter Long, Sparrow Hill Road, The InCryptid Prequels, Pocket Apocalypse, Black as Blood, Blocked, White as a Raven's Wing, The Ghosts of Bourbon Street, IM, "Good Girls Go to Heaven", A Red Rose Chain, "Full of Briars", Reflections, Once Broken Faith, "Dreams and Slumbers", Shadowed Souls, Chaos Choreography, Magic For Nothing, Indigo, Every Heart a Doorway, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, The Brightest Fell, "Of Things Unknown", Beneath the Sugar Sky

A very funny selection of 22 short stories revolving around the mad scientist, his assistant, and/or descendants.

The Stories

Austin Grossman’s “Professor Incognito Apologizes: An Itemized List” is too funny for words in its bullet point apology combination of mad scientist AND boyfriend of all that Professor Incognito needs to explain to his girlfriend. Ah gots ta put Grossman on my TBR list.

Harry Turtledove’s “Father of the Groom” plays off the bridezilla that has become too common in our North American society and demonstrates how a mad scientist would deal with her! Take notes!

Seanan McGuire’s “Laughter at the Academy: A Field Study in the Genesis of Schizotypal Creative Genius Personality Disorder (SCGPD)” demonstrates the suspicious nature of an advanced college degree, clearly a sign of madness, lol. And McGuire is quite sneaky in this one!

David D. Levine’s “Letter to the Editor” takes the form of an editorial complaining about the misperception the public has on the public service he’s doing for the world. Yup, another funny one.

Jeremiah Tolbert’s “Instead of a Loving Heart” is gruesome as he slowly reveals the truth behind Dr. Octavio’s assistant. I am curious as to what happened to Lucinda.

Daniel H. Wilson’s “The Executor” is a sad tale of a loving father wanting to help his baby girl and the trust he must go up against to claim the fortune his mad scientist ancestor left for whoever can win it. The choices he makes just make me cry… I could wish Wilson would pen a sequel; I bet it’d be bloody!

Heather Lindsley’s “The Angel of Death Has a Business Plan” is yet another funny with a…hmmm…can I say nasty twist? It’s a twist on the expected trope that benefits one person if no one else in the world, lol. It will take you aback.

David Farland’s “Homo Perfectus” takes the shape of a date with a test. I love how Farland uses dinner to explain what Chancellor Pharmaceutical does and their requirements of their employees. And yes, there’s another twist at the end.

L.A. Banks’ “Ancient Equations” pokes fun at Ernest Lassiter and his totally organic approach to life. I do think he should have stuck with the totally natural, though.

Alan Dean Foster’s “Rural Singularity” tells the tale of a too-eager reporter who doesn’t know when to stop, although I can understand his desire for access to Suzie’s inventions! I definitely want her generator.

Genevieve Valentine’s “Captain Justice Saves the Day” is definitely a twist on the mad scientist assistant role. And thank god for Brenda! We need more practical assistants like her. I’ll bet Captain Justice is thrilled with her!

Theodora Goss’ “The Mad Scientist’s Daughter” should really be plural since it’s a club of six daughters, all descended from mad scientists. It supposedly explores how genetics affect the mind, but it seems to veer more toward how being raised by mad scientists affect their child — nature versus nurture.

Diana Gabaldons’ “The Space Between” follows two separate people: the Comte St. Germain and Joan MacKimmie, The comte is obsessing about time travel and Maître Raymond with a side worry about La Dame Blanche. The comte does have an interesting addition to traveling through the stones using precious metal to make the passage easier and smoother, and one of his acquaintances, Mélisande, has left the comte afile powder that she got from Rose Hall in Jamaica.

Meanwhile, Jamie’s stepdaughter is on her way to Mother Hildegarde’s convent in Paris. We get a glimpse of the tattooed Ian Murray with his advice to Michael Murray on how to survive the death of one’s spouse.

Interesting bit in here about the Parisian cemeteries. I hadn’t realized the French still hadn’t put the dead into the ossuaries.

Carrie Vaughan’s “Harry and Marlowe Meet the Founder of the Aetherian Revolution” is a subrosa look at a sequestered murder and the inventor of this new technology that supposedly makes life in late Victorian England so much easier. A bit gruesome.

Laird Barron’s “Blood & Stardust” is a confusing short story about a female Igor, time travel, and circuses. This Mary hates her boss and eventually plots her freedom.

L.E. Modesitt, Jr.’s “A More Perfect Union” is a horror story — it’s too close to reality in how political aides and managers manipulate elections and the men for whom they work.

Naomi Novik’s “Rocks Fall” will make you cry. Novik has created a glimpse into the life, death?, of a superhero and his nemesis, and for such a short story, it is filled with a wealth of background. Then Novik ends it with hope on your part that they’ll get the guy. Damn it.

Mary Robinette Kowal’s “We Interrupt This Broadcast” finds Fidel Dobes with no intention of letting American politicians bully the rest of the world, for the U.S. won too big after World War II and is taking its preeminence too much to heart. A little math, a few punch cards, and no one will ever know. Scary thoughts, from both ends and a little too close to home.

Marjorie M. Liu’s “The Last Dignity of Man” has some fun with Alexander Luthor buying in a little too hard on those comic books. All it takes is one honest man to make it okay. Now what we’ll do about those government idiots…

Jeffrey Ford’s “The Pittsburgh Technology” pokes fun at all those “get rich quick” ads. It’s disheartening to realize that P.T. Barnum was right: “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Grady Hendrix’s “Mofongo Knows” takes off on early twentieth century adventure stories with a super-bright gorilla who almost took over the world. In some ways, Mo’ ain’t too bright.

Ben H. Winters’ “The Food Taster’s Boy” finds a dictator whose rule has been going on too long, and he’s bored. Bored, bored, bored. So bored, that he tries to set up a future bad scenario. I gotta say, it sounds like the kind of thing a crazed, bored dictator would do.

The Cover and Title

The cover is shades of green with a splodge of orange and yellow inside the glass container — and no, I don’t want to look too closely at its contents….ICK! It’s bad enough having to look at the mad scientist with his squared-off glasses, half-bald with his long, stringy, white hair flaring out behind his head, those bared teeth with the gaps between them in that rictus of a smile. Eeek!

The title could be appropriate, as any mad scientist, etc., could well use this as a manual for the Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination in his or her move to take over the world.