Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain, written by A. Lee Martinez, is probably one of the more interesting titled books I’ve read in a while. I kept reading good things about Martinez, so I thought I’d jump onto this one during a recent two-for-one sale Audible was running.
While not as laugh-out-loud as I thought the story would be, it’s a solid story sitting well in the pulpish style of humorous sci-fi. Emperor Mollusk, an invertebrate squid-like being of Neptune, conquered Earth and has been adored by the locals ever since.
Incredibly smarter than anyone else in the solar system, his idyllic “retirement” starts to fall apart as foes seem bent on assassinating him. Someone smarter than Mollusk? Impossible! He won’t allow that.
He’s also got the Venusians after him for something dreadful he did there. His bodyguard, a Venusian, needs to stop his assassination so he can be taken back to Venus and killed properly. Other races from around the solar system are also hot on his tentacles, so he has his work cut out for him… although he mostly remains unflappable throughout.
Therein lies the little issue I have with the story. There never seems to be any real danger for our hero to be in. Sure, there are tricky situations, but he mostly just breezes through these.
Narrated by Scott Aiello did a trademark great job. Recorded almost a decade ago, his style is as easy to listen to now as it was here, his first book (as far as I can see) published on audible. His voice reminded me somewhat of his British accented voice of Sherlock (5-Minute Sherlock series). The only letdown was the editing, with a lot of “mouth noise” throughout. Not too bad, but distracting.
One last thing, which is becoming a pet peeve of mine, is music over narration. I had to relisten to the first 30 seconds or so because of the ridiculous need to fade out music as the narration talks over it. Very distracting.
Overall, a fun, easy listen. Ridiculous situations that build on themselves nicely as the story is spun, to a satisfying, if a teeny bit predictable, ending.