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A Demented Labor of Love

February 4, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Written by James Frenkel, Senior Editor

I have edited, packaged, or been the in-house editor for several dozen anthologies since I started working in publishing, late in the last millennium. I’ve always loved working on them, especially anthologies with original stories, because they give readers (and the editor, too!) a chance to discover talented young writers who haven’t yet made a name for themselves with novels, as well as cool short fiction by wonderful established writers. Anthologies are also perfect new millennium media, especially for people who are too busy to read long books. In an anthology, each story is complete, but doesn’t take a long time to read. And themed anthologies, if they’re done well, like this one, are often a great revelation, as you read one story after another, each one offering a different writer’s original, creative take on the theme.

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, brought to me by the obviously demented, twisted John Joseph Adams, has been a labor of love. Twisted, tortured, tied-up-in-baling-wire-that-cut-into-my-bleeding-wrists love, but definitely love.

Its genesis was a long, seriously difficult process: at one point, the longest story in the anthology was hijacked by the editors of another anthology; sadly, one of the contributors died, and we don’t know just how many have fled into the hills . . . but we know Adams himself abandoned the East Coast for what he obviously perceived to be the relative safety of California. Obviously, he doesn’t understand the perils of unstable plate tectonics and multiple fault lines.

Were all these developments really coincidence? Hmmm.

But I had to keep going. Why? Hahahahahaha! Did you read the title? It’s the Mad Scientist’s Guide.

Have you ever noticed, in sf and fantasy books, almost always, the good guys win. The bad guys — Mob bosses, over-ambitious warlords, evil scientists, power-mad wizards — are usually crushed, their hopes and dreams, however misguided, or yes, perhaps even malevolent, turned to ashes.

This book is for them—really, yes, for those maligned, misunderstood MADMEN who merely want to RULE THE WORLD (or destroy it). Cloaked in the sheep’s garb of fiction, hidden within the pages of this guide, are secrets that readers probably will never discover . . . but those for whom this book is really intended (you know who you are, in your secret lairs, your hidden laboratories, your camouflaged hideaways with booby-trapped entrances to trap the uninitiated) will see, will discern the true, masterfully disguised intent!

And then, all the others, the unsuspecting readers who will enjoy the “stories,” will know, to their eternal doom, that what they thought were mere tales by “fiction” writers such as Diana Gabaldon, Daniel Wilson, Austin Grossman, Ben Winters, Naomi Novik, Harry Turtledove, Jeffrey Ford, Mary Robinette Kowal, Alan Dean Foster, Seanan McGuire, David Farland, Carrie Vaughn, Grady Hendrix — there are nine others, and you might find them out if you are clever, but . . . stop me before I say too much! . . . are really plans.

Yes, plans . . .

World domination will be theirs! Even the “cover artist,” Ben Templesmith . . . ha! if you think the image on the cover is mere decoration, you will rue your naive confidence. What does a “temple smith” really do? Have you really considered that? I thought not.

And now it’s too late . . . and I have enabled them . . . if the world ends now, I will know I did my part. For now it is enough to know that nothing can stop them — the “stories” — now! They are free to infect the world . . .


From the Tor/Forge February newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.


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  1. February 4, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Sounds fiendishly fascinating…and right up my alley now that I’ve been on such a short-fiction kick — both in my reading and writing — thanks, in part, to a certain editor who advised me and a few other fledgling writers at Worldcon to try to get some short stories published while waiting for our novels to take off.

    (More on that here: http://david-michael-williams.com/2013/01/29/anyone-can-write-a-short-story-except-me/)

    Thanks for doing what you do, Mr. Frenkel!

  2. February 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Now I shall be forced to read this, to ensure that you have not given away any of my best secret plans!

  1. February 4, 2013 at 10:46 am
  2. February 4, 2013 at 10:46 am
  3. February 4, 2013 at 10:46 am
  4. February 8, 2013 at 1:31 pm

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