Starter Villain by John ScalziStarter Villain by John Scalzi
Published by Tor Books on September 19, 2023
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Humor, Science Fiction
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
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Inheriting your uncle's supervillain business is more complicated than you might think. Particularly when you discover who's running the place.

Charlie's life is going nowhere fast. A divorced substitute teacher living with his cat in a house his siblings want to sell, all he wants is to open a pub downtown, if only the bank will approve his loan.

Then his long-lost uncle Jake dies and leaves his supervillain business (complete with island volcano lair) to Charlie.

But becoming a supervillain isn't all giant laser death rays and lava pits. Jake had enemies, and now they're coming after Charlie. His uncle might have been a stand-up, old-fashioned kind of villain, but these are the real thing: rich, soulless predators backed by multinational corporations and venture capital.

It's up to Charlie to win the war his uncle started against a league of supervillains. But with unionized dolphins, hyper-intelligent talking spy cats, and a terrifying henchperson at his side, going bad is starting to look pretty good.

Starter Villain is just fun, from beginning to end.

Charlie is down on his luck. He’s divorced, living in a house his half-siblings want to sell, and working as a substitute teacher. All he wants to do is buy the pub downtown, but he has no money and can’t get a loan. Then his estranged uncle dies and leaves him his business – parking garages/ villainous empire. Suddenly he’s the owner of a top-secret lair (under a volcano, naturally), though the “sinister mission control room” is somewhat lacking. And now some people are pressuring him to join the Lombardy Convocation, a group of supervillainous villains who just happen to be having their annual meeting.

This story is laugh-out-loud funny. Charlie is in over his head but has some good guidance, including from his cat, Hera (who I adore by the way). Turns out villany is much more corporate than one would have thought. In addition to explosions, Bond-style bad guys, and assassination attempts, he has to deal with worker’s rights, animal liberation, unions, nepotism, and all the other trappings of big business.

It’s an easy, escapist read. The dialogue is witty and full of humor. The characters are a blast, and some are not as one-dimensional as they may seem. And the ending is perfect.

About John Scalzi

John Michael Scalzi II (born May 10, 1969) is an American science fiction author and former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He is best known for his Old Man’s War series, three novels of which have been nominated for the Hugo Award, and for his blog Whatever, where he has written on a number of topics since 1998. He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2008 based predominantly on that blog, which he has also used for several charity drives. His novel Redshirts won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel. He has written non-fiction books and columns on diverse topics such as finance, video games, films, astronomy, writing and politics, and served as a creative consultant for the TV series Stargate Universe.

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