50 year anniversary of They Used Dark Forces

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Darren
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50 year anniversary of They Used Dark Forces

Post by Darren » Sun 6 Jul, 2014 00:18:48

Hi Folks,

They Used Dark Forces was published on 5th October 1964 so this year is it's 50th anniversary. :smt113

It's working title when DW was writing it was The Devil's Disciple.

It is one of my favourite DW books, though I haven't read it for over 25 years. As a treat and to mark the 50th year of it's release I shall make it my next DW after finishing my current read (Faked Passports).

It's quite a year for DW. 80 years since TDRO (12 December 1934) and also 40 years since his last work of fiction - Desperate Measures (2 September 1974). :smt035
Last edited by Darren on Mon 7 Jul, 2014 21:23:59, edited 1 time in total.
Regards,

Darren.

shanedwyer
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Post by shanedwyer » Mon 7 Jul, 2014 12:10:50

Although it wouldn't appear in my top 5, TUDF has some cracking set pieces: The midnight skydive into enemy territory; the eerie desuetude of the Berlin bunker; the perilous confrontations with Grauber...and not a few others spring to mind.

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Post by ericmocata » Mon 7 Jul, 2014 23:33:07

I like the Sallust books in general. It's been a good few years since I read They Used Dark Forces, but I remember liking it, although it was a bit disappointing on certain levels. Mainly, the fact that it is usually referred to as a black magic story, which it really isn't. Astrology isn't black magic. There's really just one brief part that falls under black magic, as I remember. I guess a title like Gregory Reads His Horoscope was just not all that exciting.

Also, I always thought the title was vague. Who are "they" supposed to be? The jacket makes it sound like the Nazis, but it seems to be Sallust and the astrologist/black magician, whose name escapes me, although I should know it.

This title was actually the first Wheatley I got in hardcover. I had already bought the Mandarin paperback of it not long before and I was in a used bookstore and looking through the "rare and collectible" section, I saw Wheatley's name jump out at me and I grabbed it off the shelf. It was the Lymington Edition from the '60s (the one with Hitler and the goat/devil on the cover). It was $20, which is probably 12-15 pounds, I'd guess. One of the few times I found a Wheatley book in a physical store rather than going online.

Darren
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Post by Darren » Sat 4 Oct, 2014 21:18:57

5th October 2014 is the 50 year anniversary of the publication of They Used Dark Forces. I am 3/4 of the way through it. I read it over 25 years ago and remember enjoying it then but I didn't realise what an epic tale it is.

I am loving it - and it must have been a controversial book in it's day. One of the most unlikely heroes is the occultist Malacou who's incestuous relationship with his daughter results in her committing suicide about a third of the way in the book. And I today read about a Nazi Christmas party that included a male gay orgy scene that I imagine would have been rare in popular fiction 50 years ago.

It is an exciting book - and Gregory Sallust is on top form. One of the most exciting parts is when he is escaping and he can hear the cries of Malacou as he is being tortured by the Gestapo. At first Sallust is cold to the screams as he is aware of Malacou's past and what he did to his daughter, but eventually he can't take it any more and returns to kill the Gestapo officers in a satisfying violent Ramboesque scene in typical DW literary detail to free Malacou - against his better judgement.

The section where Sallust meets Hermann Goering for the second time after 5 years is electric - with Sallust hoping Goering doesn't recognize him as he has adopted a new identity. DW handles this scene with sharpened suspenseful precision.

I've had quite a prolific 2014 with ragards to DW - and TUDF is the best one for me this year. And you learn so much about the war. DW is clearly offloading much of his knowledge from his years as a deception planner and even appears himself in an Alfred Hitchcock moment.

I'll celebrate the date with my own personal toast whilst having a DW cocktail (see the 2013 convention report for recipe).

Happy anniversary!! :smt113
Regards,

Darren.

Darren
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Post by Darren » Mon 6 Oct, 2014 23:26:05

There is a new review of the book that was published two weeks ago that shares a similar enthusiasm. It is quite timely with the anniversary - though I wonder if the reviewer was aware, but he does mention that it was published in 1964.

http://vintagepopfictions.blogspot.co.u ... orces.html
Regards,

Darren.

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