Weird Tales

Sent Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain off to begin the copy editing process.  The publishing business works on a long timeline, and it won’t be out until sometime next year.  I won’t talk too much about it at this point other than to say it’s the story of a supervillain from Neptune who is so intelligent and capable that conquering Earth is actually part of his backstory.  Emperor Mollusk (and, yes, his first name is Emperor because that’s the kind of confident invertebrate he is) is basically Lex Luthor with no Superman to stand in his way.  He’s not infallible, but he is smarter than you and he knows it.

The appeal of Emperor Mollusk for me is that he’s every bit as brilliant as he thinks he is, but still struggling to figure things out.  I’ve always felt that Lex Luthor would invent Superman if Superman didn’t exist.  Because Lex needs a challenge.  Also, Lex has a hard time accepting his own limitations, and what better target for his annoyance than a man who can fly and is bulletproof and who is always standing in his way?  If there was no Superman, Lex Luthor would just find some other foe.  Because Lex is never happy.  He’s always scheming, always out to find the next challenge.

That’s Emperor Mollusk in a nutshell.  The big difference between Emperor and Lex is that Emperor has no foe to aim his wrath at, no convenient answer for why he fails, no central obstacle he can obsess upon.  Also, Emperor doesn’t have a spine and only weighs about eight pounds.

Or maybe Emperor is a morally dubious version of Doc Savage.  The only difference is that Doc had a body perfected through rigorous training and superior genetics while Emperor walks around in a variety of mechanical exoskeletons.  This gives him a leg up on Doc, considering that no matter how hard Doc trains, he’ll never have built-in rocket launchers.  Just ain’t gonna happen.

The pulp aspect of Emperor’s universe is obvious.  Every planet in the Sol system (and even the sun itself) are all inhabited.  There are alien invasions, mutant dinosaurs, and flying saucers.  The story cross the globe from Paris to the (not quite) lost continent of Atlantis to the tourist colonies of the moon.  Characters are either plotting.  Or fighting.  Or plotting while fighting.  And through it all, Emperor Mollusk strides like a titan, a legend in his own universe.

Too bad you’ll have to wait a year to read it.  But it’ll be worth it.  I promise.

Thinking about the novel though, I realize how fortunate I am to be here, doing what I do.  If you consider the millions of aspiring writers out there who would willingly do this job for free, I have to say I’m amazed and humbled to have this opportunity.  I’m not just lucky enough to be a novelologist.  I’m even luckier to be allowed to write stories that are, for lack of a better term, “kind of weird”.

I’m sure there’s much weirder stuff out there, and I don’t want to suggest that more conventional novels are “selling out.”  Either assertion would be both incorrect and obnoxious.  There’s a market for cool vampires and everybody-dies-pointlessly literature.  It’s a diverse world we live in.  Still, I’m pleasantly surprised that there’s room in it for a character like Emperor Mollusk and his strange adventures.

Considering Emperor Mollusk is my ninth book, I think it’s not too indulgent to reflect on my career up to this point.  And that’s where I feel damn lucky because not only do I have a career in the first place, but that I can write stories about robots and vampires and tentacled supervillians.  These aren’t only stories I like.  They’re stories I feel confident aren’t being told by a lot of other writers.

(DISCLAIMER:  If there’s one way to prove yourself an idiot, it’s to declare something like the above on the internet.  I’m sure there are probably hundreds of other writers creating stories a thousand times weirder and more unique than anything I’m doing.  So don’t misquote me as saying something like “All those other writers are hacks and only I am creative and daring enough to write anything worth reading!”  In fact, I probably shouldn’t have even put that on the internet because someone will probably use it against me at some future point.  So never mind.)

Whether or not I’m truly doing anything unique or if I’m just some guy writing weird novels with delusions of grandeur, I’m still damn lucky to be here.

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,


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  1. Bothersome Chap
    Posted June 29, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Yes, you are lucky. No, your writing isn’t unique. Emperor Mollusk seems as if it were a first cousin to the Dalek from Doctor Who (without the good doctor). Does it matter? Nope, because your Dalek is in a complete different situation unrelated to any story in any other medium.

    I also don’t think your writing career survives on luck. Your first book, maybe even your second, those were based on luck. But you are on your 9th book. NINE! You’ve made money off each of your eight previous books. So, suffice to say, luck is no longer a factor. You, sir, are part of the capitalist chain–fulfilling the supply-and-demand. You, sir, are a brand…want it or not. You are brand A. Lee Martinez.

    • A. Lee Martinez
      Posted June 29, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      This is what I meant when I said posting anything on the internet will make you look dumb. For the record, I don’t think the idea of Emperor Mollusk is unique or different. Even before the Daleks, there were supervillains of his type. How many times have they “saved Hitler’s brain”. I’m not suggesting I’m doing anything that different and pretty much everything I’ve ever written is based at least partially on well established fantasy / sci fi ideas. You’d be hard-pressed to find a writer that wasn’t true of.

      Just wanted to clear that up.

  2. Bothersome Chap
    Posted June 30, 2011 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Mr. Martinez,

    Ok, I look dumb. Emperor Mollusk isn’t a Dalek. But it reminds me of a Dalek. Does it matter? I got it brain/monster inside a jar/robot/exoskeleton. What would it matter if it were a Dalek, or secretly a Dalek? Perhaps, it’s the French philosopher Descartes, you have in that exoskeleton/jar/robot. He wrote his meditations, figured out a way to keep his brain alive in a vat, went mad, changed his name, and later took over the world without a superman. Meanwhile, he was thinking, “that’ll fucking serve Nietzsche right. Where is your superman now, bizzitch? Moohaha hahaha.” Or not. It doesn’t matter what I think. I can create any backstory equation to your story I want. And you can’t stop me. Moohahahahaha

    • Also Lives in Texas
      Posted July 3, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      That’s not exactly fair though is it? After all you can find formula in any writer’s work if you look for it. That includes books, movies, and especially television. Formulas are great, makes it a lot easier to come up with ideas. Here’s a good one [(genre+genre)+unusual protagonist] equals [(fantasy+western)+goblin]. So a western-fantasy with a goblin in the mysterious stranger/ man with no name role, and hey why not mash up the tech too, and mix steampunk and magic to get Magipunk. See it’s easy. The hard part is trying to figure out everything else between A to B. Got to give Mr. Martinez props for being good at that, right.

  3. Freesamples
    Posted June 30, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    I like how you always back yourself up in your posts to make sure you don’t sound pompous. It lets the reader know you aren’t a robot. Or at least a fairly obvious robot.

    • A. Lee Martinez
      Posted June 30, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

      Well, it’s difficult to not sound pompous when you’re writing a blog, so I do what I can.

      But I do have to admit that I am not a robot. Damn it. Now I’m depressed.

  4. Posted July 3, 2011 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    i know it will be a year or so but damn i want to read this book right now!

  5. Posted July 4, 2011 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    “pretty much everything I’ve ever written is based at least partially on well established fantasy / sci fi ideas. You’d be hard-pressed to find a writer that wasn’t true of.”

    I think this is pretty much true Lee… Even if you try to create a super-awesome-unique character, you sometimes end up with an annoying Mary Sue that nobody likes. What’s important is making things your own right? I’m glad that you are publishing your ninth book already. Does Emperor Mollusk have a book cover already? I noticed that the book covers of your other books are pretty cute and nice to look at. Really catches my eye. 🙂

  6. Posted July 5, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Just wanted to say I love your work. I’ve read all your novels (Monster being my favorite thus far) and enjoyed every one of them. Can’t wait to read your newest works. You and writers like Spider Robinson, and Terry Pratchett are the reason I myself have gone back to school to become a writer. Keep putting out those excellent wacky books and I’ll keep on reading.

  7. Posted August 29, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    I like your writing, and I really enjoy how you use humor in your stories. It’s something I’m working at.

    I’ve got a really random question-

    Do you ever write fanfiction?

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