Mad Scientists and the Igors Who Love Them

It’s Mad Scientist Week, and I couldn’t stay away.  I love mad scientists.  Scratch that–I adore mad scientists.

Around Book View Café, I’m unofficially known as Igor, and my icon on our in-house bulletin board system is a picture of Igor from Young Frankenstein.  This came about because when I originally joined BVC, I was one of the few people at the time who knew how to format a book for Mobi/Kindle readers, and I shlepped code for a number of early collections.  If you look carefully in some BVC works, you’ll find the words “Formatted by Igor” shyly hidden among the 1s and 0s.  But the nickname also came about because if I lived in Europe in the old days, I’m sure I’d hang out with the mad scientists.

This was one of the things that led me to steampunk.  When I first wrote “The Soul Jar” for Book View Café’s The Shadow Conspiracy, I had to put in a mad scientist.  How could I not?  They’re too much fun.  They experiment for the sheer joy of finding out what happens next.  Inconvenient ideas such as justice or morality are for smaller minds to bother with.  It’s all about the science!  Things man isn’t meant to know?  Balderdash!

Mad scientists were so much fun, in fact, that when I got a chance to write a series of steampunk novels–the Clockwork Empire–I knew there would be mad scientists.  But why, asked myself, are these scientists mad?  What sends them round the bend?

After considerable consideration, it seemed to me that any human who knew–really knew–how the universe worked, was so familiar with its secrets that he or she could bring the dead to life or bend the nature of time or build a machine that might crack a continent, would ultimately go mad.  No one can look at a universe of truth and stay sane.

It also occurred to me that different cultures would treat mad scientists differently.  England would fear them.  Russia would hate them.  China would revere them.  And whoever can gently steer them in the right direction can rule the world.

See?  It’s the Igors who are really in charge.

–Steven Harper Piziks
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