In the city of Retropolis – which is where the future went, when we got something else – all science is Mad. As a result, scientific laboratories are confined to the Experimental Research District.
The District is the only neighborhood in Retropolis where scientists are allowed to invent, and to experiment, and to find out what happens when you cross a Great White Shark with a lawnmower, and then add a rocket pack. If you’re not a scientist you’d rather not visit the District, believe me.
There’s always the danger that something really awful might happen in the District: something so awful that it could escape to the city outside. That’s why the Retropolis Registry of Patents keeps an eye on what the inventors in the District are doing.
It’s a living.
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.
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.
Five of these stories ran as serials at the Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual web site. The final Registry of Patents story is The Enigma of the Unseen Doctor. That one wraps up the series and it’s quite a bit longer than the others. It appears in Patently Absurd for the first time.
As a 6×9″ trade paperback the book runs to about 250 pages with forty-four illustrations.