Rating: 3 out of 5

Author: Isaac Asimov

Year: 1991

Publisher: Spectra

ISBN: 9992541725

So I finished reading Azazel last night. Its a collection of small stories by Isaac Asimov, about a two-centimeter tall daemon named Azazel and his fruitless attempts at using his powers to make earthly mortals happy.

On the surface, the book is just so-so. The writing is moderately funny and the stories are interesting, but after a while the stories get repetitive and predictable: George will always make remark how young women are attracted to him, never pick up the tab for a dinner/drink and make condescending comments on the narrator’s intellect; Azazel, on the other hand, will always be busy doing something “fishy” when summoned and will be addressed to as “Oh Mighty One” and so on. The book is really not so much about Azazel as it is about George (the old looney who can summon up Azazel) and the other characters.

The pattern of each story is the same. Some poor soul will come to George seeking help, and George will summon Azazel and persuade him to help out. In each story there is short-term happiness and good outcomes, but eventually in all stories, Azazel and George’s innocent attempts to help people backfire and lead to long term disappointments.

But I think there’s a good, deeper take away from the book: that you can’t wish for happiness. No fairy god mother is going to come and make your dreams come true. Such things don’t happen in real life. You have to toil and work hard, sweat it all the way through. And atleast with me it has been true that if by some quirk of fate something unexpectedly good happens by “chance” (like finding a 20 Rs. note under your cycle tire), then very quickly something else not-so-good will happen to balance it out. That is, the pleasure of having a “good streak” doesn’t last very long.

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