Monday, May 2, 2011

Sympathy for the Devil

Yeah, yeah I know that is not politically correct, especially so close to Easter. But I have always had a semi-soft spot for the under-dog. I have always felt sorry for Judas because I always thought without him, what would Jesus do? I don’t mean to upset anyone with this blog so I will just get to it.

"Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name". Yes, there is actually a new novel with the title Sympathy for the Devil which is edited by Tim Pratt, but no it is not a series of short stories featuring the Rolling Stones. Tim Pratt has gathered together in one volume a variety of authors writing a wide variety of genres. While there are the usual suspects–Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Robert Block, this collection also features some classic authors such as Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stephenson and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

To quote the back cover "Thirty-five stories, from classics to the cutting edge, exploring the many sides of Satan, Lucifer the Lord of the Flies, The prince of the Powers of the Air and Darkness, The first of the Fallen....and a Man of Wealth and Taste. Sit down and spend a little time with the Devil."

There are a number of DC Comics that feature the Prince of Darkness. Through their printing offshoot, Vertigo Press, they have presented various forms of the devil; whether as a fallen angel, the devil of Abraham's time or a modern version. The modern one was first presented in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman in 1989. The series, Lucifer, by Mike Carey (adapted from John Milton’s Paradise Lost) ran for 75 issues. The main plot of the series revolves the issue of free will and whether God has pre-planned everything or not. I will let the reader decide that or not.

One actor’s face has epitomized the face of the devil for me. Jack Nicholson was excellent in John Updike’s The Witches of Eastwick. In the 1984 novel, Daryl Van Horne arrives in the small town of Eastwick. There he encounters three witches (Alexandra, Jane and Sukie) who have gained their powers by leaving their husbands. Van Horne seduces each woman in turn and literally stirs up a pot of trouble for the town and the women.

Clive Barker is an author that has scared the bejesus out of me on more than one occasion but I still go back for more. Released on Hallowe’en day, Mister B. Gone is an off-beat novel in the form of a diary. The "author" Jakabok states, "BURN THIS BOOK. Go on. Quickly, while there’s still time. Burn it. Don’t look at another word. Did you hear me? Not. One. More. Word."

Jakabok is a minor demon who happens to be vicious, demented and blood-thirsty. He is trapped in this book and is watching you, literally. He directly threatens, cajoles and tries to wheel the reader to his bidding. The power of words is amazing and this character sets out to prove it.

I guess journal writing is in fashion in Hell because here is another entry. Devil’s Diaries by Nicholas D. Satan is M.J. Weeks’ version of the devils’ random thoughts on various historical events. Nicholas D. Satan was born before the "Big Bang" and became the chief executive of Satancorp. This book chronicles his part in the Fall, playing music at the crossroads, small print, decorating each circle of hell and lawyers. We also get to see parts of him that aren’t well known and that even Satan gets depressed! I guess that is why there is sympathy for the devil.

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