Starter Villain (Hardcover)

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Starter Villain By John Scalzi Cover Image

Starter Villain (Hardcover)


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Staff Reviews

What a fun read! Scalzi has a way to make 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 intelligent cats. Hilarity ensues. You find yourself rooting for Charlie as he has to navigate the fallout of his uncle's death and find out what it means to be a "villain". Fans of the spy genre will love how Scalzi subverts the typical super villain clichés.

— - Scott P., Aspen Grove Manager

If you haven't read any Scalzi before, what are you waiting for? This book was just a super fun read. A down-on-his-luck substitute teacher suddenly gets thrust into the world of supervillains when his long-lost uncle dies and leaves his supervillain business to him. This includes a volcano lair and genetically modified super-intelligent cats. Somehow, Scalzi makes the absurd feel plausible. I honestly laughed out loud multiple times while reading this book. - Scott, Aspen Grove Manager

— From Bookseller Faves of 2023...So Far

Now a New York Times bestseller!

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 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 (, has earned him two other Hugo Awards. He lives in Ohio with his wife and daughter.

Product Details ISBN: 9780765389220
ISBN-10: 0765389223
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: September 19th, 2023
Pages: 272
Language: English

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... 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