Big Idea

The Big Idea: John Joseph Adams

BWA HA HA HA HAH HA! I, the power-mad scientist Dr. Scalzi, have pinned puny mortal editor John Joseph Adams with my terrifying Big Idea Ray! I shall not release him until he explains why he, of all people, decided to take it upon himself to edit The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination! Your move, Mr. Adams!


I was listening to the Escape Pod podcast’s production of “Instead of a Loving Heart” by Jeremiah Tolbert, which I really enjoyed, and I thought, “Man, I really like mad scientists. Someone should do a mad sci–” and before I even completed the thought, of course I realized that since no one else had done a mad scientist anthology, I should be the one to do it.

But just doing a mad scientist anthology seemed too straightforward. Readers and viewers have long been fascinated by sinister scientific schemes and megalomaniacal plans for world domination (and the fiends who come up with them). Typically in fiction, we see mad scientists and evil geniuses through the eyes of superheroes (or other good guys) as they attempt to put an end to their “evil” ways. So, since mad geniuses are always so keen on telling captured heroes all their diabolical plans, that gave me a Big Idea: Isn’t it about time someone gave them a platform to reach the masses with their messages of death and destruction? Why not have the authors explore the world of the villains from their own point of view?

That was where the big idea started, anyway. As the stories started coming in, the anthology evolved to encompass other kinds of mad scientist/evil genius tales as well, which resulted in a book much more diverse than what I had originally envisioned–much to the anthology’s benefit. That said, mad science (or evil geniusery) and/or nefarious plots for world domination are at the heart of every story. The anthology contains twenty original stories, along with two reprints, sometimes from the point of view of the villains, and sometimes from those who know them best.

Having grown up reading comics voraciously, it kind of feels like now all that time I invested in them is finally paying off thanks to this anthology. This is where many folks would insert a “And you said reading comics would rot my brain. Take that, So-and-So!” But the truth is I was always encouraged to read whatever I wanted, and none of my geeky interests were ever minimized or discouraged at home. So instead of a “Take that!” I guess here’s where I should insert a “Thanks, Mom!” (And if I’m thanking people, I should probably also thank Joss Whedon, who, thanks to his Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog coming along when we were shopping the project to publishers, made the anthology a whole lot more viable.)

So that’s my Big Idea. I was hoping that doing this book would qualify me for membership in The Guild of Calamitous Intent or the Evil League of Evil, but they have pretty stringent qualification requirements, it turns out, and apparently attempting to take over the anthology world doesn’t count as a real bid for world domination.


The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read story excerpts. Visit the editor’s blog. Follow him on Twitter.

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

25 replies on “The Big Idea: John Joseph Adams”

Speaking as a professional miffed scientist, I’d like to point out that no true scientist (nor Scotsman, either) would want to take over the world. Think about all of that paperwork getting in the way of doing the fun stuff that we call research and plebeians call boring. And think about the constant interruptions from people who want to discuss the plight of children in Africa when you are trying to study the learning capacity of the nematode. It is enough to make me want to pull out my Tesla Death Ray and start shooting, just to get a little piece and quiet.

Obviously, I’ll have to buy the anthology in the name of research just so that I can avoid making the mistakes that led my colleagues to take over the world.

When Mike Ford was GoH at Boskone, we put on his “Another Part of the Trilogy.” There is one song in there with the lines:
Rule the world?
Sure you can!
You’re the only one with a plan.

I was in charge of props. Clearly, someone had to show the audience The Plan, so I made a flowchart, deeply inspired by the Evil Overlord List. I made bunches of copies, but only one person ever asked for one. Sulk.

And for those who want more: Mad Scientist Journal (it’s free!): .

And if this wasn’t meta enough, here’s a review of THE MAD SCIENTIST’S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION on the MAD SCIENTIST JOURNAL: .

If this doesn’t make heads explode, I’ll . . . I’ll. . . I’ll . . . watch SCANNERS again…;-)

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