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Few characters in world literature have a resume as long as the Devil, or a personality more complex and fascinating. Since the dawn of civilization, there has been a need to look outside of ourselves: to have something human-but-not-human there to mock us, tempt us, and define us by our weaknesses, desires, and foolishness. Satan has played this role adroitly whether he has been the lustful Pan, the gloomy Hades, the playful Puck, the ambitious Lucifer, the tempting Mephistopheles, the deceitful leprechaun, the monstrous Beast, or the lawyerly adversary of Job. In the realm of supernatural fiction since the rise of industrialism, Satan has taken on an urbane, enticing personality – often the ruin of the greedy and the foil of the virtuous.
The following stories look at several cultures’ interpretations of the King of Hell – some are humorous, some horrific, some philosophical, and some fantastical – but all ponder the relationship of humanity to its darker side. They follow the archfiend as he drives wedges in marriages, drags corrupt judges to hell, makes slick bargains with bankrupt nobles and slovenly drunks alike, retrieves the corpses of his human servants, “helps” treasure hunters, and animates the bodies of zombie-witches. Take a peek, make yourself easy, and don’t sign away your soul without a crackerjack lawyer.