Scientist

Alistair,

I discovered the formula for life. This discovery could lead with ease to compounds that would work as the on/off switch for complete organisms. Clearly, good things could be accomplished with this as it allows us to rejuvenate and even restart the lives of society’s members. The problem is that the science could just as easily end life as start it. The compound could be the next weapon of mass destruction. Even as I stand here staring at the formula, I struggle fiercely with the question: Can I trust humanity to use this for its invaluable good potential and not its incalculable evil potential?

The Scientist – Not the Monster in Geneva


Scientist,

Were we meeting in person, I would burst into laughter before answering ‘No.’ As it is, you’ll have to provide the laughter yourself.

Alistair

Locked and Loaded

Alistair,

My ex-employer killed my dog. I really liked my dog. This probably skews my perspective, so I need to know: How high can I put the body count (considering that most of the guys I used to work with are pretty bad characters. It’s a mob thing) before it’s excessive?

Locked and Loaded in Syracuse


Locked and Loaded,

Since your question is specifically regarding the avoidance of excess, that will be the subject of my response. Killing anybody over a dog is an excess – as simple as that. The best possible thing to be said for the animal is that it was a practical asset, assuming it wasn’t merely some pet. On a strictly eye for eye basis, you can remove an asset of your enemy’s. Like a toaster oven. Or maybe his favorite pair of shoes. Knock yourself out.

Alistair

Chosen

Alistair,

Last week, while bartending, I found out about an ancient conspiracy to steal super-advanced technology to equip an army to conquer the world. I’m apparently a key figure in some prophecies about this. Specifically, I’m supposed to be killing my way through the baddies and slaying the king. Should I be doing something? Like, pushups, or what?

Chosen in Rhode Island


Chosen,

If I know anything about prophecies, it’s that they aren’t really dependent on your input. In the engine room of fate where all of time and space exists simultaneously, events that require outrageously-improbable eventualities need to be set in motion long before the actual acts take place. Hence the potential and occurrence of prophecies themselves. The feasibility of your role in the events that are to unfold has already been ensured. For all intents and purposes, you’re simply along for the ride. My advice is that you buy a GoPro; it’ll be entertaining.

Alistair

Finger

Alistair,

My lab assistant recently built a device that he calls “World Breaker.” Given that there’s a few pieces of proprietary technology, not to mention that he came up with the diabolical device on company time, is it good form for me to go ahead and hold the planet hostage with it?

Finger on the Button in Nevada


Finger,

You need to go back to the drawing-board with this whole scheme. Good form or not, you seem to be making some major errors in judgement. Firstly, it’s clear that you’re not a villain on the scale that we’re discussing here and ultimately wouldn’t have what it takes. On the other hand, your assistant probably is and it’s unlikely that your argument about company time would prevent him from killing you and recovering his device. My advice is that you just destroy the World Breaker and fire your assistant.

The lesson here? Being a super-villain requires more than mere opportunity.

Alistair

Party Crasher

Alistair,

I am an incorporeal being intermittently in control of an electrical engineer in New Jersey. He has started doing something, I know not what. There is a door, sealed to me through means beyond my ken. I began to fear that he has an inkling of his uninvited guest, and is taking steps to have me returned to the immortal plain. What can I do to prevent this?

Party Crasher in New Jersey


Party Crasher,

This is actually the reason that most incorporeal personalities are reluctant to possess the sentient and stick to lifeless subjects like curtains, light switches, toilets and socks. Bear that in mind in your next death.

In the meantime, relocate if possible. If you can’t make the move, start making a serious effort at providing some advantage to your host that makes him reluctant to enact your removal. It’s a long shot, but there is precedence for a very agreeable relationship developing as a consequence of mutual benefit.

Alistair

Diabolical

Alistair

So, supervillain team-ups: yay or nay?

Diabolical in Manhattan


Diabolical,

Short Answer: Absolutely, if you want the heroes to win. 

Long Answer: Realistically, partnerships require “good guy” character qualities to be sustainable in any way. In the absence of a virtuous purpose to transcend more petty motives, one or both of the partners involved will be planning to end the alliance treacherously from the outset. The only force more capable of destroying a super-villain than a super-hero is another super-villain. If the forces of good could trust them, they’d hire super-villains and fire super-heroes. However, they can’t trust them and neither can you.

Alistair

Statue

Stuck. Time is slow. Minute = year. Help.

Someone.

Alistair.

Help.

Statue in NYC


Statue,

This is a fairly straightforward case of personalized time dilation. There’s a number of ways for this to occur (a curse laid by a furious wizard, accidents in experimental hydrogen colliders, and computer errors in some software used in gardening supplies wholesalers) but the end result is more or less the same. There are essentially two approaches to fixing the problem: Either bring your personal time dilation back in sync with that of your surroundings – a notoriously difficult affair and easy to overshoot, which can leave you stranded hundreds of years into the future where newcomers die from superviruses and roving bands of motorcyclists – or to drag the rest of the universe back, which is much easier to do as there’s a characteristic full body-soul-and-mind clicking sensation when the two are in sync. It has been described as, “in some ways, not unpleasant. In more ways, profoundly unpleasant”.

Given that there are few wizards with the necessary irritation and power sources to curse the entire universe, and very few bits of the universe fit into a hydrogen collider at at a time, your best bet is to propagate HOMEANDGARDINS (sic) PRO EDITION through as many retail sites as possible and hope for the best/worst. Fortunately, the install wizard is very quick, which is a prime concern right now.

Alistair

Asking for a Friend

Earlier this week, Alistair was asked if it was possible to bring a pet cat back to life. The answer was yes: The cat can be readily reanimated because of the soullessness of cats. Another reader is asking for further details:

Alistair,

Does it work for gingers? 

Asking for a Friend in Almonte


Asking for a Friend,

No. While this aspect of gingers has been questioned frequently over the years, the reality is that they do, in fact, have souls. . . Uncanny, complicated, orangish souls that use different operating systems than those of regular humans, but souls nonetheless. When it comes to the question of bringing a ginger back to life, you can forget it. The process becomes outrageously laborious, dangerous and expensive as soon as a creature has anything soul-like. This is only made more difficult by the fact that you’re trying to replace a ginger soul, which is classified as a specialty OS.

Again, the answer is no. I can’t stress this enough.

Alistair

Grieving

Alistair,

My pet cat recently died. What is the best way to bring Mowsers back from the dead?

Grieving in Key West


Grieving,

Ordinarily I would tell people to let their dead pets stay dead. Trying to resurrect a deceased animal is most often an unspeakable nightmare of red tape. As it happens, however, cats don’t have souls. Almost every other creature – from cockroaches to manatees – have some sort of primitive Soul OS. Cats just don’t. Spiritually, they’re undead; a slow-moving, apathetic apocalypse of soullessness. This actually makes your task easier. Without the necessity of patching in a soul, there’s no need to consult the authorities on making this thing happen. You simply need to find some competently insane biophysicist and have him conduct an old-school reanimation on your cat’s corpse. Will your cat be the same Mowsers as you knew and loved before? Yes. Because when something undead dies and then gets back up again, their personality doesn’t change. They just have more rotted bits.

Alistair