Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Devil You Know, by K.J. Parker

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(Fantasy) The philosopher Saloninus makes a deal with the Devil. Except he approaches the Devil, not the other way around, and the Devil is worried it's a trick. (23,900 words; Time: 1h:19m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average
Recommended By: JStrahan

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"," by (edited by Jonathan Strahan), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: Turning the old deal-with-the-devil story on its head, this story challenges us (and the devil too) to figure out where the scam is. We're all sure that Saloninus means to put one over--the only question is how, and possible answers are plentiful.

The conclusion is satisfying in that we do learn what the trick was (even if the Devil is still in the dark).

Strictly speaking, the narrator is never named, and we know he's just one of many demons in his operation. Given the title plus the promotional material from Tor, it seems fair to just call him the Devil.

Con: The whole trick depends on Hell's bookkeeping failing to know the origin of an amnesiac woman. Saloninus takes an awful risk on that assumption--more than seems reasonable.

The contract gives Saloninus ridiculous power. Hell couldn't do more than a few deals like that per century, and definitely not more than one at a time, or else you'd have warfare between essentially omnipotent armies.

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K.J. Parker Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB

2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. A fun twist on Faust. But it rambled on a bit too long, and I don't think it will be that memorable for me.

    (I'd say this devil is Mephistopheles.)