Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Read the Small Print

Fantasy Contracts and Pacts with the Devil tend to be reinterpreted through Quibbles. "Small print" issues are not so much quibbles as built-in consequences whose importance one contracting party fails to see. In Fredric Brown's short "Nasty" (in Nightmares and Geezenstacks coll 1961) an elderly lecher's Wish brings him enchanted swimming-trunks which restore youthful potency – until he removes them. John Dickson Carr's Timeslip detection The Devil in Velvet (1951) has a protagonist who believes himself immune to anger and accepts the Condition that losing his temper may lead to brief Possession by a violent spirit. The Devil takes this clause very literally: following a momentary political annoyance, the hero "wakes" to find that in a few minutes of swordplay he has killed a man. [DRL]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.