Six stories; forty-four illustrations; 250 pages; one Patent Investigator; one slightly maladjusted robot secretary; and more Mad Science than you can shake a centrifuge at, all from the author/illustrator of Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom.
In the city of Retropolis - which is where the future went, when we got something else - all science is Mad. So scientific laboratories are confined to the city's Experimental Research District. It's laid out in the zoning laws, but what it really is, is self-defense.
There's always the danger that something really awful might happen in the District, though: something so awful that it will escape to the city outside. That's why the Retropolis Registry of Patents keeps an eye on what the inventors of the District are doing from day to day.
At the Registry you might meet Ben Bowman, a patent investigator who's smart in at least one or two of the ways that are important, and his friend Violet, the robot secretary. Violet is convinced that she ought to be an investigator herself.
Between you and me, she's not wrong. But she's had a terrible time convincing one Patent Registrar after another that they ought to promote her; and, strangely, the Registrars never seem to last very long once they disagree.
About the Author
The creator of Retropolis, Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, and the Pulp-O-Mizer, Bradley W. Schenck has worn a lot of hats in his time. He still has quite a few of them. Bradley's a former printer, draftsman, and luthier. If you live long enough you'll find you've worked at jobs that don't even exist any more. He did some illustration work back in the early days of fantasy role playing games, then painted and illustrated some more in the 1980's in fields like book and music publishing... sometimes for formats that don't exist any more. In the late 1980's he freelanced for computer game studios and then, in 1991, founded Terra Nova Development with Michal Todorovic. Terra Nova produced 'The Labyrinth of Time' (Electronic Arts, 1993), an early CD-ROM graphic adventure game. Later Bradley joined The Dreamers Guild ('I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream', 'Dinotopia', and 'Halls of the Dead: Faery Tale Adventure II'), and following his stint at the Guild he worked for a series of game development studios that were, repeatedly, shot out from under him. They don't exist any more, either. When this happens often enough, you have to wonder if it might be a pattern of some kind. So early in the 21st century he decided to rely on his own wits. So far, his wits still exist. His work since then has included Celtic design, but increasingly he's worked on his world of Retropolis; first in art and merchandise, and later in serial and interactive stories at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual. The Thrilling Tales led to his illustrated novel 'Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom' (Tor Books, 2017) and to the collection 'Patently Absurd' (Radio Planet Books, 2018).
Patently Absurd marks a joyful return to the city of Retropolis and the future that never was, the location of Bradley Schenck's previous novel Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom. Specifically, the six linked stories collected here deal with the adventures of a couple of employees of the Retropolis Registry of Patents, an office that has the unenviable task of trying to keep a lid on some of the more dangerous ideas coming out of the city's Experimental Research District.
This means it's up to Ben Bowman and his robot assistant Violet to deal with breakaway floating labs, an eruption of mole people, outbreaks of blue slime, time machines, doorways to other dimensions, and that curse of all bureaucracy, corrupt and incompetent management, as they attempt to save Retropolis from a spirit of innovation gone mad. Throw in a generous helping of Schenck's own delightful illustrations and what you have is a high-spirited genre romp that fans won't want to miss.
-- The Toronto Star
Return to Retropolis, where all science is mad, where robots work alongside humans, and where someone has to keep an eye on those scientists! Schenck includes 44 wonderful illustrations in this retro romp of the future that fans of 1940s Superman cartoons and Flash Gordon serials missed out on. Unlike his previous book, Schenck focuses on the work of the Registry of Patents and how it keeps scientists from inventing a way to evaporate the oceans or cause other catastrophes...
It's all lighthearted fun and wild invention, but Schenck takes a serious turn in the final story, which brings touching depth to his main characters. A great follow-up to Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom (2017).