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book cover of The Devil with You!

The Devil with You!

The Lost Bloch, Volume 1
A collection of stories by

horroronline - horroronline
Although Robert Bloch was an acknowledged master of horror, The Devil With You! is not a compilation of his most masterful works. Instead, it (first of several volumes planned) presents "lost" novels and novellas written for the pulps that were never (or rarely) reprinted. As the editor, David J. Schow, admits in the introduction, "This material is not supposed to be classic literature...yet, in a way, it is, because it easily accomplishes one of the criteria: It presents an honest snapshot of its time..." The time is the late pulp era of the 1940s and 1950s: a time when a fictional young man could grab a sassy young woman of immediate acquaintance, propel her to a chair, turn her over and apply "the palm of his hand repeatedly to the most available spot" because "[t]his is what they do in the movies" -- and receive his victim's appreciation rather than finding himself either in the middle of a SM scene or about, at the very least, to be arrested for assault and sexual imposition . Men are hard-boiled and women are girls. The characters drink alcohol like water, smoke cigarettes with no fear of cancer, and find themselves in madcap situations riddled with snappy dialogue and incredible puns. Written sheerly as entertainment, the stories capture the essence of the better penny-a-word (or less) typewriter pounders and show considerably more intelligence and wit than their modern day entertainment equivalent -- sit-coms. In opening novella, "The Devil With You!", Bill Dawson becomes the owner of a hotel expecting -- or rather dreading -- a convention of magicians. What would have been an amusing piece of farcical whimsy gets stretched beyond its limits (remember, pulp writers got paid by the word), but one still chuckles at the absurdity. "Strictly From Mars" is a bit more serious and decidedly more chilling as a hard-drinking (what else?) science fiction writer and his tough-as-nails (what else?) editor deal with an invasion from outer space. There's enough paranoia and post-World War II fear of collaboration with the enemy to probably have made this one pretty scary when first published in 1948. "It Happened Tomorrow" also delves into the seriously science fictional with machines turning against humankind. The puns come hot and heavy in "The Big Binge" when a college man gets involved with a wacky psychiatry prof, his niece, a machine called the "psychopathfinder," naked girls, vampires, and commie spies. Included with the stories are an introduction by Schow that readily evokes the spirit of the pulpmeisters, a more scholarly forward by Stefan Dziemianowicz, and the text of an interview Schow conducted with Bloch at the first World Horror Convention in 1991. All-in-all an interesting trip back in time.

Kirkus Reviews
The once brightly amusing but now departed Bloch faxes in some lost pages from the beyond and shows himself still going strong. This sheaf of what critics call hackwork (Bloch's term is "professional writing") from the 1940s and '50s will appeal to those readers, admittedly fewer and fewer, who recall the youthful author's wonderfully funny Lefty Feep stories in '30s fantasy pulps. The material here includes four short novels-The Devil with You, Strictly from Mars, It Happened Tomorrow, and The Big Binge-all introduced by editor Schow, who tells of penny-a-word pulps, and research assistant Stefan R. Dzieminnowics, who places Bloch's burlesques in the higher plateaus of pulpdom. It Happened Tomorrow is a fairly somber tale about future machines in revolt and the end of the world generally. The Big Binge starts out with Miner Klopp drinking four grasshoppers (a crème de menthe concoction); the events that ensue, Bloch says in an interview with Schow, "strain my credulity to the point where it may have to wear a truss." Strictly from Mars is a wisecracking exercise in SF paranoia, while The Devil Take You, the longest story here, clearly shows Bloch blocking out pages at a thousand words an hour-"it must have been the fickle ringer of Fate" was a tired phrase even then. Still, if fans can collect the Lost Three Stooges episodes, why not first puns and parodies?


Used availability for Robert Bloch's The Devil with You!

Hardback Editions

April 1999 : USA Hardback

Title: The Devil With You
Author(s): Robert Bloch
ISBN: 1-892284-19-7 / 978-1-892284-19-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: Subterranean
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA