If you haven’t picked up anything by A. Lee Martinez and you’re a fan of humor-laced horror or science fiction (aka Douglas Adams type stuff), you’re missing out. This book was the third or fourth by him I’ve read, and each one has been a delight.
As the title should indicate, this novel is ridiculous. It’s about an alien from Neptune (who looks like a giant mollusk) who is a super genius. In his quest to understand “science” he’s constantly conquering worlds and creating diabolical weapons, making him a kind of accidental super villain. He long ago conquered Earth, but has retired from the role of Warlord and now just wants to be known as Emperor and has relinquished control of the planet back to humans (much to their confusion and regret). One day he is visited by Zala, a Venusian who is committed to making sure Emperor Mollusk pays for his crimes against the galaxy. Only Zala isn’t there to arrest him, she’s there to protect him because someone has been sent to assassinate him. As Mollusk tries to explain he doesn’t need protection, forces storm his home and the duo are forced to flee together. This sets the pair on a course to discover who sent the assassins to kill Mollusk and threaten the planet (Earth) he’s come to love so much.
This book works because the banter between Mollusk and Zala is laugh-out-loud funny. Mollusk is kind of a Sherlock Holmes-style protagonist—unbelievably arrogant but with the intelligence and wit to back it up. He also has that “heart of gold” thing going for him, which is definitely a cliché, but set against such an original and fun story it works fine. Zala is a warrior to the bone, never willing to surrender a fight or give up on her mission (traits typically attributed to male characters, so I was happy to see them portrayed in a female one, even if she was a lizard-like alien from Venus).
If you’re hankering for something fun, quick and entertaining, or a good beach read, this would be a great option.