Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain
by A. Lee Martinez
Review by Mel Jacob
Orbit Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780316093521
Date: 05 March 2012 List Price $19.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
A humorous romp with the Emperor Mollusk, former Warlord of Terra, as he battles the mysterious Sinister Brain to save the universe. Martinez provides a comic book tale, loaded with races from every planet in the Solar System. The Emperor, a squid-like creature from Neptune, has made enemies of all except Terra Sapiens who worship him. When Venusian Intelligence gets word assassins are out to kill him, they send Zala, the Venusian commander of a full battleguard, to prevent that. The Venusians are determined to try him themselves for his attempt to conquer their planet.
Whoever is heading the conspiracy against the Emperor leads him and his Venusian protectors on a romp leaving destruction in their wake. The Emperor believes the assassination attempts are merely to lead him in the right direction. He is blessed or cursed with insatiable curiosity and considers himself the most intelligent creature in the universe. His hobby is inventing weapons of mass destruction.
He and Zala lurch from one confrontation and clue to the next. Snarg, his pet ultrapede with a few genetic and cybernetic upgrades to make it virtually indestructible, accompanies them. The soft-bodied Emperor occupies exounits that provide him with strength, protection, and mobility.
Stereotypes abound, but Martinez uses them well and humanizes his weird characters, even Snarg. The pace never lets up as the Emperor and Zala defeat one assassination attempt after the other and collect odds bits of things that play a major part in the climax.
Marintez writes comic fantasy and science fiction. He loves monsters and enjoys poking fun at stereotypes. Like Terry Pritchett and other humorists, he skirts the fine edge between farce and failure. So far, he has managed the balancing act well. For the most part, his novels will especially please teens and the young at heart.