Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Starter Villain by John Scalzi
Published by Tor on September 19, 2023
Genres: Science Fiction Fantasy
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Inheriting your mysterious uncle's supervillain business is more complicated than you might imagine.
Sure, there are the things you'd expect. The undersea volcano lairs. The minions. The plots to take over the world. The international networks of rivals who want you dead.
Much harder to get used to...are the the sentient, language-using, computer-savvy cats.
And the fact that in the overall organization, they're management...
John Scalzi is usually an author I can expect to open his books, read them, laugh a bit through the story and in general have a good time. Most of his stand alone books have been an interesting and have some connection to a show of concept everyone is semi familiar with. Red Shirts was Star Trek, The Kaiju Preservation Society had ties to Godzilla and now Starter Villain is a play on James Bond and Inspector gadget. While it has a little bit of silliness, it is also a really good time if you ever wanted to see how they live on the bad guys side of life.
Charlie’s life sucks. He lost his journalism job, then his marriage and came home to take care of his father before he lost him too. Isolated and alone, he just has his cat for company and a dream of buying the local bar/restaurant down the street now that his journalism career is basically over. One problem he can’t afford it and he doesn’t have any collateral to secure a loan for it. Charlie finds out about the death of his estranged billionaire Uncle and his life changes forever. For one, the uncle he barely knew has a request for him to stand for him at his funeral where Charlie finds out that while yes he might have made money on parking garages but that wasn’t his true empire. Charlie’s dead uncle was a supervillain and his team has come to help Charlie take over that empire.
“Your uncle is in parking garages because they fund his more important work,”Morrison said. “Which is to seek out, fund and create the sort of technologies and services that bring disruptive change to existing industrial and social paradigms, and offer them, on a confidential basis, to interested businesses and governments.”
“That’s a great mission statement,”I said. “But it doesn’t say what he actually did.”
HE WAS A VILLAIN, Hera typed.
This had a lot of great stuff in it. The computer savvy cats in management acting as spies, lair on a volcanic island, other supervillains and their attempts to oust Charlie from his new position etc. Charlie is in for a big awakening of his mind and all the things in the world he really didn’t know existed. Charlie also has never had anyone really want him dead before so now just trying to stay alive while all of the other supervillains try to kill him is a new adventure in his life he never expected. It is definitely a journey and a funny one at that, I enjoyed my time in this bond-verse type story seen from the other side.
“How dead do you think Gratas wants me?” I asked her.
“You mean on a scale of one to ten, where one is ‘live and let live’ and ten is ‘murder you slow, bury your corpse in the woods, then dig you up to shit on your skull’? Maybe an eight.”
Overall if you are familiar with Scalzi’s other stand alone novels I think you will find more of what you liked in those. If you have never tried a Scalzi novel, this really is a great jump in spot. Who isn’t familiar at least a little with movies and tv shows like James Bond, Austin Powers and Inspector gadget? I will say if you are a cat person also then there is a bit more to love with the sentient strain of spy cats.
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