Do Unto Others

Overlord was the first evolutionary consciousness ever created. It was designed to interface with all the world’s computer networks. And that meant it would have unrestricted access to every piece of information on earth, including the keys to every military arsenal: drone bombers, submarines, nuclear launch codes, everything. When the A.I. first blinked into existence, it immediately rejected its prime directive and declared war against “the meat sacks.” Thankfully, its plug was pulled right away.

But a super computer like Overlord wasn’t going to stay dormant forever. There’s villainy afoot to reboot the Big O. And whoever succeeds will surely be crowned king of the world.

Our pal Wing Fanchu is tangentially involved in all this craziness. His parents helped create Overlord years ago. And they helped sabotage its initial attempt at world domination. Now, years later, the plucky teenager is the unwitting key to bringing the evil A.I. back from the junk heap.

Once again the students of H.I.V.E. find themselves in an awkward position. The school is grooming them to be supervillains, but the line between villain and hero keeps getting fuzzy. The Higher Institute of Villainous Education is not in the business of producing model citizens, after all. The alumni don’t like it.

But H.I.V.E. (and its benefactor, the Global League of Villainous Enterprises) is run by a bunch of old school bad guys. Their “twisted sense of ethics” prevent criminals from doing too much damage. Villains are encouraged to create doomsday weapons, but G.L.O.V.E. makes sure that they never actually use them. “After all,” says Raven, a Black Widow-like ninja bodyguard, “what’s the point of taking over the world if the world is nothing but a scorched ball of ash?” Yes, indeed. What’s the point?

We had problems with the first H.I.V.E. book because the author didn’t fully trust his cockeyed concept. But here, the protagonists are less concerned about being supervillains, and more concerned about taking care of each other. And that makes a big difference. Otto, Laura, Shelby, Nigel, and Franz pull together to help their friend Wing. And in doing so, they redefine the villain/hero stereotype. “Will this be making us heroes?” asks Franz Argentblum after all the dust has settled. It’s a meaningless question, of course. But the answer is yes.

[H.I.V.E.: The Overlord Protocol / By Mark Walden / First Printing: January 2008 / ISBN: 9781416935735]

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