Hertzsprung-Russell rating: A102

Available in: Fire From The Wine Dark Sea

Man, this is a weird one. It’s about a cult of aliens who ride terrestrial roller-coasters to bring about the arrival of their messiah. That’s right; their messiah demands they ride roller coasters to please Him (Her? It?). I’m an atheist, but if I had to choose a belief system, I’d go for the one where I got to spend every Sunday at an amusement park riding a roller coaster. Their communion wafers are probably funnel cake. And their St. Peter is probably a fortysomething ex-con who’s not supposed to let you in if you don’t meet a minimum height requirement, but usually just says fuck it and looks the other way because he’s making eight bucks an hour. Either way, every earthly religion sucks.

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Hertzsprung-Russell rating: A10-3

Available in: Button, Button

In a radioactive, post-apocalyptic America (where, in addition to red states and blue states, there are now incandescent green states), a clan of mutant backwoods hillbillies go about their daily lives, which involve foraging for food and having body parts fall off. So, basically, if you live in the American South and there’s a nuke war, you’re really no worse off than you were before.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: A/F10-4

Available in: The Orange Book

A utopian comic tale of government-funded public masturbation sessions that take place several times a day, leaving the populace clear-headed, focused, and altogether more productive. In the future, being paid by the government to jerk off is called progress. Today, it’s called ‘an arts grant’.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: B10-2

Available in: Azazel

This story is part of a series of ‘comedic’ (the great thing about the printed word is that you don’t have to use air quotes: you can use real ones!) fantasies Asimov wrote about a demonic imp named Azazel who grants humans their hearts’ desires, only to leave them disappointed with the results. The moral? Impin’ ain’t easy.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: A10-2

Available in: Timeless Stories For Today And Tomorrow

The story of a pig possessed by a demon and two brave young priests who strive to save the impious porker’s soul from piggy Hell (which smells delicious, by the way). Demons started inhabiting pigs in Biblical times (Matthew 8:30 – 37) because they knew the Jews wouldn’t touch them, but just once I’d like to see Jesus call their bluff. Son Of God be all, like, “Fuck it! Cook ‘em up! Get thee inside me, Satan! And round up some possessed chickens and some evil toast, while you’re at it; we’re one demon away from an all-day breakfast! I’ll say Grace, too: ‘Dear Me – I thank Me for this food I am about to receive.’” Wow. What a fertile bit.