Humanity has long been oppressed by alien overlords and finds solace in religion; but the solace turns to violence as revolution breaks out and humanity breaks its shackles.
Asimov hated this story. Indeed, the only stories he liked less were things like "The Portable Star” and "A Woman’s Heart,” which he refused to anthologize. He had to revise “Black Friar of the Flame” repeatedly, emphasizing religion, de-emphasizing it. And still the story was no good. (In the end, he got so disgusted that he vowed never to do multiple revisions again. If a story was so bad that it needed more than one revision to please an editor, it wasn’t worth salvaging.)
Actually, it isn’t that bad. It’s still overblown, incoherent, and utterly forgettable, but not that bad. It shows some promise. It’s Asimov’s first future historical, and some of the names here would resurface in the Foundation stories. Asimov loathed it more than it truly deserved because of its unfortunate editorial history. Still, it’s bad enough and really not worth bothering with.
|The Early Asimov|