Asimov Fantasies: Devils

(Magical Worlds of Fantasy, #8)

From a man too simple for the devil to fool, to a college student taking an honors class in temptation, here are tales of black magic and demonic enchantment--stories of those who heed Satan's siren song and those ready to match wits with this most cunning of opponents. So get ready for some red-hot reading about the age-old battle between humans and their ever-present foe as you settle in for a devilish good time in Isaac Asimov's Devils.

I've been trying to read through many anthologies this year - not doing the best job, but after coming off enjoying Revelations so much, I was excited to try another themed collection. An assortment of different stories featuring the devil through old folklore re-told tales blended with new ideas sounded like it would make sense to continue for the next book to keep the trend.

Usually anthologies put the best foot forward in the beginning, but that sadly wasn't the case here. I had to force myself to keep going with it. Mainly filled with parables tainted by dry humor or stories that embrace the cheesy aspects of the theme, the anthology starts offering its best when the first few stories are passed. There's a lot of tongue-in-cheek irony twists such as The Devil in Exile, The Cage (short but I liked this one), The tale of Ivan the Fool (despite it's reputation, I didn't enjoy it)

A notable exception is Robert Bloch's hellbent yarn centered around a young wanderer named Marvin who is obsessed with trains before he meets a special one that burns on sulphur and brimstone rather than fuel. The story is a nifty twist on waiting for the time to be happy instead of being happy in the here and now. Clever and well-written.

I'm Dangerous Tonight by Cornell Woolrich wasn't bad either, but it was too long for its content (about 90 pages). Rustle of Wings is one of the best stories; it's short and involves gambling. It has a quiet creepiness about it. Added Inducement was one of the slightly cheesy ones that worked. Americans and their TV and popcorn - tsk,tsk! The Devil and Daniel Webster was my third favorite - the ideal length when it shows a sought-after soul fight in court for the soul of a fellow countryman. It continues the common theme of people being foolish to sell their souls permanently for temporary profit. Rick Hautala takes the same common theme but runs with it in a creative way, making the whole thing sickly amusing in Colt 47.

There's a few gems hidden in the anthology but for the most part it's lukewarm. Not the temp you'd expect from this theme. It's not worth hunting down, but a few stories are worth picking up if you have it laying around nearby.

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