"Three steps to completing your initiation as an Evil Genius:
1. Adopt ominous accent."
"2. Never, ever smile."
"3. Bring a wealthy, monopolistic multinational corporation that sells crappy operating systems to its knees."
"Am thinkink there is no way of doink number 2 and 3 at same time."
- Pitr, reading EVIL GENIUSES FOR DUMMIES
The comic strip USER FRIENDLY maintains a continuous storyline, so EVIL GENIUSES IN A NUTSHELL picks up where the first collection, USER FRIENDLY, left off. The main characters - the staff of Columbia Internet - were introduced in the first book.
Written and set during 1999, the year that THE MATRIX and STAR WARS I: THE PHANTOM MENACE were released, there are lots of then-topical references (such as the completely empty offices of Columbia Internet on May 19 and the ultimate possible evil release date for Quake III).
For instance, during one of Stef the marketing guy's dust-ups with Erwin the AI, Erwin is temporarily loaded into a Furby's toy body. (Gentle readers might remember the talking stuffed toys after a little thought.) After Stef destroys it and Erwin retaliates, Stef finds himself in big trouble with the NSA. :) At one point, Erwin ends up talking like Yoda after being stuffed into a reverse-Polish-notation calculator.
And there are plenty of fantasy elements (at least, if you're in management, you can tell yourself that's all they are). Crud the demonic entity, saying that Microsoft is passé, changes over to AOL. The techies have a holy war over which of the various flavours of Linux is The One (TM). Erwin tries to nuke a spammer, with Russia and China joining in. Pitr tries to solve some budget problems by seeking refunds for all the copies of 5 different versions of Windows Columbia Internet has acquired with their hardware. When Microsoft's anti-Linux team arrives, the coders do the logical thing: they sic the thugs onto Stef. Erwin messes with Stef's head when they get him back, almost turning him into a techie ("I'm thinking I should've taken the blue pill"), but Delilah from MS sales re-education changes him back. In between, the techs play with Half-Life, Alpha Centauri, and Rainbow Six. (When a Terminator-like engineer's brain is replaced by a Pentium III chip, our heroes only notice him because his shotgun is a cool Quake weapon.)
*No* real life techies would try to shop a colleague onto the graveyard tech support shift, would they? No sleazy marketing guy would order sleek new computer gear just to impress a good-looking female techie would he? Just fantasy elements.
Not many Y2K strips, although the techies do prepare, because while Columbia Internet is compliant they're betting that Windows isn't, and that their clients will blame them. (The next collection, THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL, deals with the post-Y2K letdown.)
- Artur the possessed engineer, who talks like Ahnold
- Matt the sea urchin, a new friend of Dust Puppy's rescued from a sushi bar