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Sympathy for the Devil by Tim Pratt
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Sympathy for the Devil (2010)

by Tim Pratt (Editor)

Other authors: David Ackert (Contributor), Natalie Babbitt (Contributor), Kage Baker (Contributor), Elizabeth Bear (Contributor), Holly Black (Contributor)30 more, Robert Bloch (Contributor), Scott Bradfield (Contributor), Richard Butner (Contributor), Jonathan Carroll (Contributor), Michael Chabon (Contributor), John Collier (Contributor), Charles de Lint (Contributor), Kris Dikeman (Contributor), Andy Duncan (Contributor), Jeffrey Ford (Contributor), Neil Gaiman (Contributor), Elizabeth M. Glover (Contributor), John Kessel (Contributor), Stephen King (Contributor), Jay Lake (Contributor), Kelly Link (Contributor), Nick Mamatas (Contributor), China Miéville (Contributor), James Morrow (Contributor), Tim Pratt (Introduction), Carrie Richerson (Contributor), Benjamin Rosenbaum (Contributor), David John Schwartz (Contributor), Robert Louis Stevenson (Contributor), Charles Stross (Contributor), Theodore Sturgeon (Contributor), Mark Twain (Contributor), Scott Westerfeld (Contributor), Jan Wildt (Contributor), Sarah Zettel (Contributor)

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184564,254 (3.39)2
  1. 00
    Paradise Lost by John Milton (Jannes)
    Jannes: Milton's Satan is probably the most famous of all literary potrayals of the devil, and is more or less the source of the view of him as a sort of byronic antihero. If you're interested in the devil in fiction you really can't skip this one.
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» See also 2 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
I found this book by chance at the public library, being interested in a few of the included authors. It's one of those monster theme collections, gathering thirty-six stories in which "the Devil" features as a principal character, from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first. (Longfellow's translation of the thirty-sixth canto of Dante's Inferno is the oldest item, and concludes the book.) Six stories I had read prior to their appearance here. "Thank you, Satan!" quoth the editor, introducing his first effort at anthology. Despite the title, most of these stories don't portray the Devil as sympathetic.

Charles Stross's story "Snowball's Chance" was a major attraction, and did not disappoint, other than its clumsy misquotation of the Law of Thelema. I suppose any 21st-century Big Book of Beelzebub is likely to include some content touching on the Great Beast who heralded the New Aeon. Nick Mamatas's fictional protagonist in "Summon Bind Banish" may be a full (i.e. Ninth Degree) initiate of O.T.O., but Mamatas himself obviously isn't. His pretended exposure of the Order's sovereign secret is overshadowed by the way that he vilifies Crowley with an impressionistic biography of mostly-true episodes.

Elizabeth M. Glover's "MetaPhysics" was cornball, but some of these pieces were genuinely funny. In particular I was delighted with the one-act comedy "Faustfeathers" by John Kessel, which casts Groucho Marx as the paradigmatic sorcerer. Jeffrey Ford's "On the Road to New Egypt" was a key inducement to my reading the book, and turned out to be hilarious.

Some of the creepiest stories were the most questionably related to the book's espoused theme, and these were often among the ones I had already read, such as China Meiville's "Details," "The Professor's Teddy Bear" by Theodore Sturgeon, and "The God of Dark Laughter" by Michael Chabon. Probably the most horrific story in the book that was new to me on this reading was "The Goat Cutter" by Jay Lake. The most surreal story was either "Lull" by Kelly Link or "The Heidelberg Cylinder" by Jonathan Carroll, and both of these get high marks from me.

Older selections included Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" (still excellent), Robert Louis Stevenson's "Bottle Imp" (how had I missed this one before?), and Mark Twain's "Sold to the Devil" (justly neglected by a mass readership). "Big names" likely to appeal to genre fans include Stephen King ("The Man in the Black Suit") and Neil Gaiman ("The Price" and "We Can Get Them for You Wholesale").

The book is a fairly mixed bag on the whole, as one might expect with such a large number of stories and such a narrow criterion for inclusion. Still, it was definitely worth the bother.
4 vote paradoxosalpha | Jul 12, 2016 |
The Devil. Satan. Lucifer. His Satanic Majesty. Is it just me or is the devil one of the most interesting characters in history available to write a short story about? So much possibility and yet, in many of the stories in “Sympathy for the Devil” he falls so short of the mark. What should have been a 5 star read falls to a mere 3.

Part of great anthologizing requires the writer/editor to really spend a considerable amount of time and effort reading and culling. Just because a famed writer puts the pen to paper does not mean that every word that falls to the page is golden. Good anthology editors know this and are willing to make cuts where the stories aren’t that good.

Not to say that the selections aren’t interesting. They range from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Salem, Massachusetts to Stephen King’s Maine. Mark Twain next to Neil Gaiman and Michael Chabon. And of course, Dante. Many authors, some shorts worthy of 5 stars in and of themselves but the overall effect is a 3 for me.

The 3 is due to unevenness in story quality and an anthology that runs about 125 pages too long. A long anthology is only as good as the quality within it and there lies the trap for the editor. The stories have to hold the readers interest and at about page 333 I was getting turned off on the whole subject matter and just wanted the book to end.

I have to admit a fault here as a reader: I am insistent on finishing every book I start. If you are a reader who can skip or skim the weaker stories, you might find this to be a 4 star read. I leave it to you, fellow reader, to make that decision. Just know going in that the devil is in the details. ( )
  ozzieslim | Jul 4, 2015 |
A collection of short stories by multiple authors focused on the idea of the devil. Authors range from Neil Gaiman to Mark Twain, and styles and plots are similarly varied. ( )
  Ailinel | May 1, 2015 |
A good selection of short stories - no surprises.

Introduction -- Tim Pratt

The Price -- Neil Gaiman

Beluthahatchie -- Andy Duncan

Ash City Stomp -- Richard Butner

Ten for the Devil -- Charles de Lint
A Reversal of Fortune -- Holly Black

Young Goodman Brown -- Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Man in the Black Suit -- Stephen King

The Power of Speech -- Natalie Babbitt

The Redemption of Silky Bill -- Sarah Zettel

Sold to Satan -- Mark Twain

MetaPhysics -- Elizabeth M. Glover

Snowball's Chance -- Charles Stross

Non-Disclosure Agreement -- Scott Westerfeld
Like Riding a Bike -- Jan Wildt
Bible Stories for Adults, No. 31: The Covenant -- James Morrow
And the Deep Blue Sea -- Elizabeth Bear

The Goat Cutter -- Jay Lake

On the Road to New Egypt -- Jeffrey Ford

That Hell-Bound Train -- Robert Bloch

The God of Dark Laughter -- Michael Chabon

The King of the Djinn -- David Ackert and Benjamin Rosenbaum Summon, Bind, Banish -- Nick Mamatas

The Bottle Imp -- Robert Louis Stevenson

Two Old Men -- Kage Baker

...With By Good Intentions -- Carrie Richerson

Nine Sundays in a Row -- Kris Dikeman

Lull -- Kelly Link

We Can Get Them for You Wholesale -- Neil Gaiman

Details -- China Mieville

The Devil Disinvests -- Scott Bradfield

Faustfeathers -- John Kessel

The Professor's Teddy Bear -- Theodore Sturgeon

The Heidelberg Cylinder -- Jonathan Carroll

Mike's Place -- David J. Schwartz

Thus I Refute Beelzy -- John Collier

Inferno: Canto XXXIV -- Dante Alighieri (translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

( )
  SChant | Apr 26, 2013 |
A mixed bag. I originally picked it up for the Neil Gaiman stories (which I realize I've read in other collections) and the China Mieville story (which was brand new to me). The real gem, in my opinion, is Natalie Babbitt's "The Power of Speech." I didn't know she could be so hilarious! I read it to my 10-year-old daughter who shrieked with laughter. Then, this 10-year-old, who usually steers clear of anything remotely creepy, requested that I read her another tale from this book. (I didn't like Holly Black's "Reversal of Fortune" as much, but it seemed the be the only other non-scary, non-creepy tale)

Also, there's an amazingly disturbing story by sci-fi writer Theodore Sturgeon. ( )
  VikkiLaw | Apr 4, 2013 |
Showing 5 of 5
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pratt, TimEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ackert, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Babbitt, NatalieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baker, KageContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bear, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Black, HollyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bloch, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bradfield, ScottContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Butner, RichardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carroll, JonathanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chabon, MichaelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Collier, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
de Lint, CharlesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dikeman, KrisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Duncan, AndyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ford, JeffreyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaiman, NeilContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Glover, Elizabeth M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kessel, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
King, StephenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lake, JayContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Link, KellyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mamatas, NickContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Miéville, ChinaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Morrow, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pratt, TimIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Richerson, CarrieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rosenbaum, BenjaminContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Schwartz, David JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, Robert LouisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stross, CharlesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sturgeon, TheodoreContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Twain, MarkContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Westerfeld, ScottContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wildt, JanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Zettel, SarahContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Serpent. Tempter. Beast. Adversary. Rebel. The names of the Devil are many; his faces are legion; his traps are the stuff of legend. Here are the best Satanic short stories revealing His Grand Infernal Majesty, in all his forms.

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