Gimmicks Three

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"Gimmicks Three"
Author Isaac Asimov
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Fantasy short story
Published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Publication type Periodical
Publisher Fantasy House
Media type Print (Magazine, Hardback, Paperback)
Publication date November 1956

"Gimmicks Three" is a fantasy short story by Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the November 1956 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction under the title "The Brazen Locked Room", and reprinted under Asimov's original title in the 1957 collection Earth is Room Enough. The title refers to what Asimov called "the three well-worn gimmicks of pact with the devil, locked room mystery, and time travel".[1]

Plot summary[edit]

Isidore Wellby has just left the army and, abandoned by his girlfriend, feels lost and let down. In desperation, he signs away his soul in blood to a demon named Shapur. On the proviso that eventually he will be forced to enter hell, either as an ordinary damned soul or as a member of the cadre, he is allotted a number of demonic powers, the nature of which are not initially explained to him.

Ten years later, he has become a successful businessman and has married his erstwhile girlfriend. Shapur reappears to demand his price. If Wellby can perform a simple task using his demonic powers, Wellby will be accepted as a member of the elite of hell. Otherwise, he will be just an ordinary damned soul.

Wellby is confined to an apparently sealed bronze room and challenged to escape from it. Eventually, with little time left, he realizes that he has the power to move through time - the fourth dimension - and travels backward, thus escaping from the room.

In the story's climax, it is revealed that he has moved back to the time before he had signed away his soul and so he is able to turn down Shapur's persuasive offer, much to the demon's fury. Not only has he had his ten successful years, with more to come, but the demon no longer owns his soul.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Isaac Asimov,In Joy Still Felt, 4:28.