Saturday, December 26, 2009

Read None But Lucifer

"None But Lucifer" is a somewhat famous novelette written during the 1950s by Horace L. Gold, publisher and editor of Galaxy magazine, and L. Sprague DeCamp. It was published in novel form in 2002, but E. L. Gold, Horace's son, has also made it available on the web as part of's Science Fiction Musuem.

Before I share with you the link to get to the site where you can read the story for free, let me share a couple of tidbits.

First, here is Isaac Asimov talking about the story, very briefly, in "Horace", an essay published in his Asimov on Science Fiction anthology:

In his greatest story, "None But Lucifer," (the most terrifying story I ever read in Unknown) I was pinned to the wall by the manner in which everything worked for the worst. Imagine wishing to have a beautiful girl love you madly and never wanting to leave you; and imagine getting that wish and ending up hating it because she literally couldn't leave you, couldn't even go into the next room, and you couldn't get rid of her.

And here is how it is described by Horace Gold's son, Eugene:

You can purchase it in a nice print volume here:

And finally, here is the link to the Science Fiction Museum where you can read it, and other classic SF works, for free:

And I include the first four paragraphs of the novella.

Hale had plenty of reason for panic. Most men, lying sick, broke, and alone in a cheap, filthy rooming house, would have been terrified. But Hale wasn’t. He was sick, broke, and alone, all right—only that was exactly how he wanted to be. A long time ago he had planned it. Having achieved what superficially appears to be an easy goal, he felt rather successful. He waited impatiently for the next step in his campaign.

He listened to the stairs. He had been listening since early morning. His hungry, wan face brightened. They were creaking, in the exact manner he had anticipated.

The two pairs of feet plodded irresolutely toward his door. Then they halted. Hale listened impatiently for the creaking to resume. Instead he heard muffled, excited whispering.

He fought down his exasperation. If he had dared to expose his eagerness, he would have cried: “I know it’s you and your wife, Burke, coming to dispossess me, if you can get me out while you put a slug in my lock. Don’t worry about that. Don’t waste time thinking up clever schemes to lure me out. I’ve waited for years for the courage to put myself in this position. You’re not going to fail me because of a little pity, are you? Please, destiny’s getting restless.”

So give yourself an extra Christmas present this year, or an early one for next year, and take a look at this classic.

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