Who wrote this book and when?
Isaac Asimov started writing these short stories for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and then Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine in 1982. The book of collected stories was published in 1988.

Has there been a film version?
No, I don’t think so.

Who are the important characters?
The narrator – presumably Asimov, a writer
George Bitternut – a book reviewer who mooches off of his friends and can call up Azazel
Azazel – (pronounced similar to the word “dazzle”) the aforementioned demon, 2 centimeters tall and bright red, he can perform magic for George’s friends but refuses to do it in a way that will benefit George

What’s it about?
Each story tells of George interfering on the behalf of one of his “needy” friends with Azazel. The demon can do almost anything to help someone out, but refuses to perform magic to benefit George (which is a good thing because otherwise George would be more odious than he already is). Unfortunately, in most of the cases where Azazel helps out, the victim finds themselves in a worse position than they began. George relates these stories of Azazel to his friend – a writer.

Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
Mainly because it’s a humorous side of Isaac Asimov.

Do you recommend I read this book?

How did this book make your list?
It didn’t really, but I like Asimov and this book sounded intriguing.

Has it won any awards?
No, I don’t believe so.

Favorite quotes:
“I had frequently heard of the uncooperative nature of wives and children where finances are concerned, and it is, of course, the chief reason I have remained uncommitted in this respect through a long lifetime, during which my ineffable charm has caused me to be pursued ardently by a variety of beautiful women.” – p 65

“He [George] favored me with a haughty glare. ‘Do you realize I am the greatest president the fraternity of Phi Pho Phum ever had?’ ” – p 179

Anything else?
Azazel is the name of the demon Denzel Washington’s character fights in the movie “Fallen,” to date, one of my favorite supernatural thriller movies.

Personal Thoughts:
I have only read one work of Asimov’s previous to these short stories. And “Foundation” is hardly light science fiction. However, this group of shorts shows a side of Asimov I never expected. He’s funny, witty, crass, and overwhelmingly entertaining. The character of George annoyed me incessantly, but this is good because I’m quite sure you’re not supposed to actually like George. Azazel never really struck me as terrifying, but more of a demon version of George, which I’m sure was the point. The satire was completely satisfying. I had a very good time reading about these people and guessing how each of the wishes would go awry. And I definitely had a splendid laugh at some of the more scandalous stories, such as that which took off from Pygmalion…