Authors and writers have an unwritten obligation to fulfill the promise of the premise. This isn’t always easy. In fact, more often than not, they fall just a little short. The over-the-top pulp fiction whimsy of Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain starts with the title and doesn’t let up for a single page. Martinez appears to have thrown as many pulp science fiction and adventure stories as he could muster into a blender and sprinkled his particular brand of humor on top. The titular Emperor Mollusk is the (retired) Warlord of Terra and the most wanted criminal in the Solar System. With the help of Zala, his sometime-nemesis and reluctant bodyguard, Emperor Mollusk must avoid increasingly elaborate assassination attempts, and foil an enemy who threatens to supplant him, and possibly destroy the universe…if the math checks out. Along the way there are the requisite number of robots, dinosaurs, giant jellyfish, Saturnite Warships, Lunar Resorts, a trip to the Not-So-Lost City of Atlantis, and, as the title suggests, a Sinister Brain or two.
This is a tongue-in-cheek infectious romp through a pulp science-fiction universe with an evil genius, world-conquering mollusk from Neptune as your guide. It is seldom laugh-out-loud funny, but it is constantly amusing and addicting. I read it cover to cover in a little under two hours, simply because I couldn’t stop. Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain is perfect for some mindless, fun reading. This is the first book by A. Lee Martinez that I’ve read, but I have definitely been inspired to search out his other works.