Starter Villain (Hardcover)
October 2023 Indie Next List
“Scalzi makes the absurd feel completely normal. Charlie is a down on his luck guy who gets thrust into the world of super villains and genetically-engineered cats. Fans of the spy genre will love the subverted super villain clichés.”
— Scott Patnesky, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO
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.
In a dog-eat-dog world...be a cat.
JOHN SCALZI is one of the most popular SF authors of his generation. His debut, Old Man's War, won him the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. His New York Times bestsellers include The Last Colony, Fuzzy Nation, Redshirts (which won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel), The Last Emperox, and 2022's The Kaiju Preservation Society. Material from his blog, Whatever (whatever.scalzi.com), has earned him two other Hugo Awards. He lives in Ohio with his wife and daughter.
Scalzi's latest is a light-hearted story with a likeable fish-out-of-water protagonist and a lot of very smart cats. There's also a dolphin labor dispute, some truly awful techbros, and a volcano island lair... Who could resist?--Rebecca Roanhorse, author of Black Sun
“Combining the sarcastic humor of Scalzi’s Redshirts with an origin story for James Bond–like supervillains operating with the competence-porn-level efficiency and work ethic of Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots, this story of snark with a heart reminds readers that the logical conclusion of “dogs have owners, cats have staff” is that cats are management and never let anyone forget it. VERDICT: Readers of humorous fantasy are sure to love Scalzi’s latest as much as those cats; it’s also for those who enjoy seeing superhero stories folded, twisted, and mutilated and anyone wishing for a righteous villain lair surrounded by intelligent sharks. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal, Starred Review
“Scalzi again examines tropes in a tale of an ordinary individual being cast into an extraordinary situation with his trademark quick pacing, clever banter, and ability to find humor in desperate situations…. With a large print run and a clever premise, Scalzi’s latest will appeal to his legion of fans and draw in new ones.”—Booklist, Starred Review
“In this clever, fast-paced thriller, Hugo Award winner subverts classic supervillain tropes with equal measures of tongue-in-cheek humor and common sense… The result is a breezy and highly entertaining genre send-up.”—Publishers Weekly
"Classic Scalzi set pieces like a class of managerial cats or dolphins on strike – and moments when you will laugh so loudly you will wish you weren’t reading in public."--The New Scientist
"Witty dialogue, clever world-building and engaging secondary characters make this a satisfying escape from the real world. And of course, if you’ve got a feline companion, Starter Villain is a perfect lazy Cat-urday read."--Wall Street Journal
"Irreverent and subversive...with James Bond-level bad guys set in the everyday trudge of corporate life a la The Office."--Entertainment Weekly