cover image Starter Villain

Starter Villain

John Scalzi. Tor, $28.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-7653-8922-0

In this clever, fast-paced thriller, Hugo Award winner Scalzi (The Kaiju Preservation Society) subverts classic supervillain tropes with equal measures of tongue-in-cheek humor and common sense. For years, business reporter–turned–substitute teacher Charlie Fitzer has struggled to find purpose; his current goal is to buy a pub just for a change of pace. Then his uncle Jake, a reclusive billionaire owner of parking structures, dies. Charlie, as Jake’s closest living relative, stands to inherit everything—but what he doesn’t realize is that his uncle was really an evil genius straight out of a James Bond movie. After the funeral, to which goons show up just to make sure Jake is really dead, a bomb destroys Charlie’s house, leading him to move into his uncle’s secret island volcano lair, complete with a satellite-destroying death ray and genetically modified superintelligent cats. Danger comes in the form of the Lombardy Convocation, a coalition of fellow evil billionaires who secretly rule the world and want Charlie to join them or die. Scalzi balances all the double-crosses and assassination attempts with ethical quandaries, explorations of economic inequality, and humor, including some foul-mouthed unionizing dolphins. The result is a breezy and highly entertaining genre send-up. Agent: Ethan Ellenberg, Ethan Ellenberg Literary. (Sept.)