Westlake Score: The Curious Facts Preceding My Execution

NB: A version of this post also appears on Existential Ennui.

Our next Westlake Score, which again came from the recent London Paperback & Pulp Bookfair, is that rarest of things in the Donald E. Westlake bibliography: a short story collection. It’s a 1973 first paperback printing of The Curious Facts […]

Donald E. Westlake’s farewell to science fiction: responses by Frederik Pohl, Westlake, and others

This, I’m sure we’ll all be relieved to hear, will be my final Violent World of Parker post for the year. Fear not, however (or, possibly, fear greatly): there’s plenty more to come from me in the new year, not just on Westlake but also on some other writers whose work […]

“Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You”: Donald E. Westlake’s farewell to science fiction (from The Best of Xero)

I actually have Violent World of Parker reader Sandra Bond to thank for this latest post—or, more accurately, couple of posts: there’s a lot to cover here, so it’ll be better if I split it into two missives. Sandra emailed me after I’d finished my second run of reviews of Westlake’s SF stories […]

Donald E. Westlake’s science fiction stories: “The Question,” with Larry M. Harris; The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (March / July 1963)

Rounding off this intermittent series of posts on Donald E. Westlake’s early-1960s science fiction stories, I’ve a particularly pithy tale which Westlake was the co-writer of, rather than the sole author. And of all the SF stories I’ve been reviewing in this series and the previous series, I think this might […]

Donald E. Westlake’s science fiction stories: “The Earthman’s Burden,” Galaxy, Vol. 21, No. 1 (October 1962)

After a slightly-longer-than-anticipated John le Carré-shaped diversion, it’s back to the short stories written by Donald E. Westlake for various science fiction magazines in the early 1960s. And whereas the previous Westlake SF short (if you can cast your mind back that far) involved teleportation, this next story centers on… telepathy…

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Donald E. Westlake’s science fiction stories: “Look Before You Leap,” Analog, May / September 1962

On we go with Donald E. Westlake’s science fiction magazine stories; and like the last SF story I wrote about, “They Also Serve,” this one also appeared in Analog Science Fact & Fiction, and has similarly never been reprinted since (and it’s not even available via Project Gutenberg). But there the […]

Donald E. Westlake’s science fiction stories: “They Also Serve,” Analog, Vol. 68, No. 1, September 1961

As promised (or perhaps threatened—and while I’m linking to that last post, let me just quickly point out that Lawrence Block—yes, Lawrence Block—took the time to comment on it, a turn of events as pleasantly surprising as it is humbling), this week I’m returning to the short stories Donald E. Westlake […]

Nackles: A Christmas story by Donald Westlake

Note: I believe this story to be in the public domain. If it is not, please let me know and I will remove it from the site.

Merry Christmas!

Nackles

By Donald Westlake (writing as Curt Clark)

Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 1964

Did God create men, or does Man create gods? I don’t know, and if it hadn’t been for my rotten brother-in-law, the question would never have come up. My late brother-in-law? Nackles knows.

It all depends, you see, like the chicken and the egg, on which came first. Did God exist before Man first thought of Him, or didn’t He? If not, if Man creates his gods, then it follows that Man must create the devils, too.

Nearly every god, you know, has his corresponding devil. Good and Evil. The polytheistic ancients, prolific in the creation (?) of gods and goddesses, always worked up nearly enough Evil ones to cancel out the Good, but not quite. The Greeks, those incredible supermen, combined Good and Evil in each of their gods. In Zoroaster, Ahura Mazda, being Good, is ranged forever against the Evil one, Ahriman. And we ourselves know God and Satan.

But of course it’s entirely possible I have nothing to worry about. It all depends on whether Santa is or is not a god. He certainly seems like a god. Consider: He is omniscient; he knows every action of every child, for good or evil. At least on Christmas Eve he is omnipresent, everywhere at once. He administers justice tempered with mercy. He is superhuman, or at least non-human, though conceived of as having a human shape. He is aided by a corps of assistants who do not have completely human shapes. He rewards Good and punishes Evil, And, most important, he is believed in utterly be several million people, most of them under the age of ten. Is there any qualification of godhood that Santa Claus does not possess?

Continue reading Nackles: A Christmas story by Donald Westlake

Nackles: A Christmas story by Donald Westlake

Note: I believe this story to be in the public domain. If it is not, please let me know and I will remove it from the site.

Nackles

By Donald Westlake (writing as Curt Clark)
Originally published in
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 1964

Did God create men, or does Man create gods? I don’t know, and if it hadn’t been for my rotten brother-in-law, the question would never have come up. My late brother-in-law? Nackles knows.

It all depends, you see, like the chicken and the egg, on which came first. Did God exist before Man first thought of Him, or didn’t He? If not, if Man creates his gods, then it follows that Man must create the devils, too.

Nearly every god, you know, has his corresponding devil. Good and Evil. The polytheistic ancients, prolific in the creation (?) of gods and goddesses, always worked up nearly enough Evil ones to cancel out the Good, but not quite. The Greeks, those incredible supermen, combined Good and Evil in each of their gods. In Zoroaster, Ahura Mazda, being Good, is ranged forever against the Evil one, Ahriman. And we ourselves know God and Satan.

But of course it’s entirely possible I have nothing to worry about. It all depends on whether Santa is or is not a god. He certainly seems like a god. Consider: He is omniscient; he knows every action of every child, for good or evil. At least on Christmas Eve he is omnipresent, everywhere at once. He administers justice tempered with mercy. He is superhuman, or at least non-human, though conceived of as having a human shape. He is aided by a corps of assistants who do not have completely human shapes. He rewards Good and punishes Evil, And, most important, he is believed in utterly be several million people, most of them under the age of ten. Is there any qualification of godhood that Santa Claus does not possess?

Continue reading Nackles: A Christmas story by Donald Westlake