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I don t usually go for novels about black magic, which I tend to find boring and kind of stupid, but this one is pretty good Blish isn t being campy, or playing it for laughs The assumption made here is that black magic exists and really works, allowing you to summon demons from Hell and make them do your bidding The author must have done a lot of background reading, and the atmosphere feels authentic I particularly liked the descriptions of the demons, who are both chillingly evil and bizar I don t usually go for novels about black magic, which I tend to find boring and kind of stupid, but this one is pretty good Blish isn t being campy, or playing it for laughs The assumption made here is that black magic exists and really works, allowing you to summon demons from Hell and make them do your bidding The author must have done a lot of background reading, and the atmosphere feels authentic I particularly liked the descriptions of the demons, who are both chillingly evil and bizarrely other worldly The plot is a variant on the Faust myth the book s subtitle is in fact Faust Aleph Null Theron Ware is an accomplished black magician He s several hundred years old, having sold his soul to the Devil in exchange foror less eternal life, and his passion is scientific knowledge A nice touch is the way he s still stuck in the medieval mind set he acquired during his formative years there s a fun scene where he s copying out the latest discoveries on quasars into his huge illuminated manuscript, using a goose quill pen But he s impatient with the slow rate of progress, and thinks that, if he could only get some serious money, he d be able to speed things up Ware is contacted by a billionaire arms dealer, Baines, and they start cooking up a deal Baines is plausibly skeptical at first, and wants to carry out a couple of tests, to satisfy himself that Ware is on the level The test runs are cleverly thought out, and convey both the fundamental seriousness of the enterprise and the utter immorality of both parties Baines then gets down to business, and makes his proposal He will give Ware a large part of his enormous fortune, if the magician can summon most of the demons from Hell, and let them loose on Earth for one night.The action is being followed by Father Garelli, a white magician working for the Church According to the complicated rules governing dealings between Heaven and Hell, Garelli is invited to participate in the demonic summonings as an observer, but may not intervene to stop them Blish succeeds well in describing Garelli s feelings of helpless rage as the plan comes together, and Armageddon draws ever nearer one readily thinks of real world parallels I won t give away the ending, but suffice to say that it s both logically and emotionally consistent, and that you don t feel cheated by the elaborate build up This is a genuinely scary book 6.0 stars I just reread this book February 6, 2010 and I liked it even better than the first time I read it when I gave it 4.5 to 5.0 stars While always problematic to say that a book is the first to do something especially when you haven t read every book ever written , this appears to be the first book in which the art of magic is portrayed as a rigorous, almost scientific endeavor fraught with peril and potentially very unpleasant Add to that a great plot and one of the best endings 6.0 stars I just reread this book February 6, 2010 and I liked it even better than the first time I read it when I gave it 4.5 to 5.0 stars While always problematic to say that a book is the first to do something especially when you haven t read every book ever written , this appears to be the first book in which the art of magic is portrayed as a rigorous, almost scientific endeavor fraught with peril and potentially very unpleasant Add to that a great plot and one of the best endings I have ever read i.e., the final 3 words of the novel and you have a classic by a very under rated author HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Nominee Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel 1969 I don t usually dig skulls on my vintage horror covers especially photo versions , as they re so overdone, but this is one of the few exceptions to that rule This will be my first Blish read, other than a couple sf shorts back in the day I don t usually dig skulls on my vintage horror covers especially photo versions , as they re so overdone, but this is one of the few exceptions to that rule This will be my first Blish read, other than a couple sf shorts back in the day WARNING This review contains the BIG spoiler, but no others, so you may not want to read this if you haven t read Black Easter yet.Damn God is dead And James Blish is his killer I ve been meaning to read a Blish novel for years, having read and liked a short story of his How Beautiful With Banners in a Sci Fi class years ago, but Blish isn t carried in the book stores within my sphere of contact, and he s never been the first author I think of when I have money to spend online I lucke WARNING This review contains the BIG spoiler, but no others, so you may not want to read this if you haven t read Black Easter yet.Damn God is dead And James Blish is his killer I ve been meaning to read a Blish novel for years, having read and liked a short story of his How Beautiful With Banners in a Sci Fi class years ago, but Blish isn t carried in the book stores within my sphere of contact, and he s never been the first author I think of when I have money to spend online I lucked out, though, and found an old, thrashed copy of Black Easter in a used bookstore down the street from where I work I tossed it in my glove box because it is always a good idea to have a back up book handy in case of emergencies and forgot about it My emergency came up last week when, before I left for work, I couldn t find the book I was reading, so I needed something to read at lunch I dug Black Easter out and was quickly knocked on my ass I am not usually a fan of fiction that explicitly discusses good and evil I usually find their philosophy pedestrian and reductive Too black and white But Black Easter isn t a pedestrian book, nor is Blish a pedestrian author I had know idea how talented the man was, but I know now.Black Easter is a book about black white magic that is full of demons and ends with the release of Armageddon Yet it remains Science Fiction How is that possible It s possible because Blish offers us the theological science that called magic, which, in its ancient forms you pick the emy or mancy was the root of all secular sciences The magicians who practice this theoscience take their work as seriously as a nuclear physicist would, and their practices are as rigorous, their laboratories as specialized, their tools and books as important, their minds as honed as any image we have of today s scientists And, like so many who apply the sciences, the black white magicians play with forces beyond their control, doing things because they can rather than because they should They use and abuse knowledge, and as the myths of Prometheus and the Garden of Eden have tried to teach us, this knowledge is the root of all evil So evil exists in Blish s Armageddon world, and it is released with a force on the world that ends everything we know mere hours And good exists Too benevolent, too bound by honour, too naive to stop the evil But even those in the book who practice good, those white magicians we d expect to be pure and beloved of God, are steeped in evil They are in concert with demons They are damned And their paralysis, brought on by goodness, is tainted with evil There isn t much gray in Blish s Black Easter, but the black and the white are everywhere, in everyone, and while they may react like oil and vinegar when in contact, while they may not bleed into each other, they make for a deliciously creepy and stunningly realistic take on black magic and Armageddon I had no hopes for the book I read it because it was Blish and I was hard up, but I was blown away This is the best book about contemporary magic use I have ever read, and far and away the best expression of Armageddon I m tracking down A Case of Conscience and reading it as soon as I can because Blish deserves to be read ( DOWNLOAD BOOK ) ☩ Black Easter ♀ Black Easter is a Nebula Award nominated fantasy novel by James Blish in which an arms dealer hires a black magician to unleash all the Demons of Hell on earth for a single day It was first published inThe sequel is The Day After Judgment Together, those two very short novels form the third part of the thematic After Such Knowledge trilogy title from TS Eliot s Gerontion, After such knowledge, what forgiveness with A Case of Conscience Dr Mirabilis Black Easter was serialised as Faust aleph null in If magazine The book ends with three English words and a mathematical symbol commonly known as Aleph naught Or, in Rabbinic Judaic folk lore, a reference to the reward given to the Aleph by starting the Ten Commandments and also begins the three words that Make up God s mystical name in Exodus I Am That I AmThe revelation pardon the pun sans spoilers presents a compelling argument for the theological hypothesis raised by Blish I read this short novel in less than a day, a matter of hours, but I fear it The book ends with three English words and a mathematical symbol commonly known as Aleph naught Or, in Rabbinic Judaic folk lore, a reference to the reward given to the Aleph by starting the Ten Commandments and also begins the three words that Make up God s mystical name in Exodus I Am That I AmThe revelation pardon the pun sans spoilers presents a compelling argument for the theological hypothesis raised by Blish I read this short novel in less than a day, a matter of hours, but I fear it will haunt my thoughts for many weeks to come A strange, surreal journey to say the least And upon further research, find yet another book The Damnation of Theron Ware Or Illumination by Harold Frederic I should read because The name Theron Ware was later used by author James Blish for his villain in the novel Black Easter In this novel Ware brings about the death of God and the triumph of Satan The book was adapted into a play in 1979 by a Troy University theatre professor and produced by the school s drama department This, and it s sequel companion DAY AFTER JUDGEMENT, are a pair of hilariously dark, end of the world novellas that astonish and delight in equal measure.Drawing extensively from actual magical rituals, the always delivers Mr Blish imagines an international arms dealer employing a real wizard to unleash all the demons from Hell onto Earth for one night of Revelations style armageddo fun while a Vatican rep watches on, observer style, because the Cosmic rules the contract between God and Sat This, and it s sequel companion DAY AFTER JUDGEMENT, are a pair of hilariously dark, end of the world novellas that astonish and delight in equal measure.Drawing extensively from actual magical rituals, the always delivers Mr Blish imagines an international arms dealer employing a real wizard to unleash all the demons from Hell onto Earth for one night of Revelations style armageddo fun while a Vatican rep watches on, observer style, because the Cosmic rules the contract between God and Satan prevent him from intervening.Undeniably downbeat at the end, these two volumes skip through descriptions of magical ritual, demonic emergence and play and the arrival of the City of Dis with wit and aplomb.And it s gripping.And it s a little bit scary.And it d make a FAR better movie than Arnie s risable END OF DAYSThese books are also loosely grouped, by Mr Blish himself, in a trilogy of volumes called AFTER SUCH KNOWLEDGE A Case of Consience and Doctor Mirabilis If you ve not discovered Mr B before, seek all of these out on EBAY dirt cheap and revel in the sheer variety and depth of his prose.Always recommended The only book with necromancy I ve ever seen that tries to be faithful to medieval visions of how sorcery should work which appeals to the historian in me Andthe only book that asks the question all those End of Days Apocalypse novels and films never do What if the Apocalypse comes and things just don t go the way the Tim LaHaye types think it will Oh, yes Dark and clever and very, very different Worth reading, along with its sequel, The Day After Judgment. A wonderful story for Easter Should be required reading for all children God is Dead and things are not always what they seem. I read this book during some down time at work Pleasantly surprised by it without having read the first book.