A While back I started a new blog post series here on Mighty Thor JRS, Definitive Sword and Sorcery. It has done quite well so I thought I would expand a little and include some other sub-genres and authors I love. Since it is October and things are feeling spooky leading up to Halloween I thought I would go with some Definitive Weird Fiction. At least what is definitive in my opinion. I will spotlight some of the best authors and books fantasy has ever known. I can’t wait to share these amazing books, authors, and the amazing cover art and artist. For this post I am going to go with Clark Ashton Smith and his amazing stories.
Clark Ashton Smith was a fascinating man. A poet, sculptor, painter and fantasy/sci-fi/Horror author. Smith was one of “the big three” authors from Weird Tales Magazine, along with Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft. Also a member of the Lovecraft literary circle. CAS is certainly a forefather of Definitive Weird Fiction.
I am spotlighting a couple of my favorite Clark Ashton Smith books below. Zothique and Hyperborea. These collections are essential in my opinion to the CAS legacy. Not only Weird Fiction, these tales are also some of the best Sword and Sorcery. Not all may feel this way but I stand by that opinion. CAS might not be as well known as REH and Lovecraft but he deserves a place beside them in the greats of speculative fiction.
As I become more and more disenchanted with modern fantasy and modern fantasy authors, I find myself going back to the books and authors that got me into fantasy in the first place. So I decided to shed some light on these books and authors.
If you have some comments, suggestions, recommendations, let me know!
Are you are a modern author that writes books/stories like the ones I will spotlight here? Get in touch. I want to work with you and spread the word. There has to be something new out that I can read and love. Short stories, collections, magazines, whatever! Let me know what you got and are working on.
James – Mighty Thor JRS
Check out my other “Definitive” post:
Zothique is a collection of fantasy short stories by Clark Ashton Smith, edited by Lin Carter. It was first published in paperback by Ballantine Books as the sixteenth volume of its Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in June 1970. It was the first themed collection of Smith’s works assembled by Carter for the series. The stories were originally published in various fantasy magazines in the 1930s, notably Weird Tales.
The book collects one poem and all sixteen tales of the author’s Zothique cycle, set on the Earth’s last continent in a far distant future, with an introduction and map and epilogue by Carter.
“Introduction: When the World Grows Old”, by Lin Carter
- “Zothique” (poem)
- “Necromancy in Naat”
- “The Empire of the Necromancers”
- “The Master of the Crabs”
- “The Death of Ilalotha”
- “The Weaver in the Vault”
- “The Witchcraft of Ulua”
- “The Charnel God”
- “The Dark Eidolon“
- “The Black Abbot of Puthuum”
- “The Tomb-Spawn”
- “The Last Hieroglyph”
- “The Isle of the Torturers”
- “The Garden of Adompha”
- “The Voyage of King Euvoran”
- “Epilogue: The Sequence of the Zothique Tales”, by Lin Carter
Hyperborea is a collection of fantasy short stories by Clark Ashton Smith, edited by Lin Carter. It was first published in paperback by Ballantine Books as the twenty-ninth volume of its Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in April 1971. It was the second themed collection of Smith’s works assembled by Carter for the series. The stories were originally published in various fantasy magazines from the 1930s to the 1950s, notably Weird Tales.
The book collects one prose poem and ten tales of the author’s Hyperborean cycle, set on a prehistoric lost northern continent Smith named for the mythological land of Hyperborea, with an introduction and map by Carter. One story from the sequence, the fragment “The House of Haon-Dor,” is omitted. The editor also includes in the collection four additional tales of Smith’s from what he took to be a similar but more fragmentary sequence of stories.
- “Introduction” (Lin Carter)
- The World’s Rim
- “The Abominations of Yondo“
- “The Desolation of Soom”
- “The Passing of Aphrodite”
- “The Memnons of the Night”
- “Notes on the Commoriom Myth-Cycle”, by Lin Carter
Clark Ashton Smith (January 13, 1893 – August 14, 1961) was a self-educated American poet, sculptor, painter and author of fantasy, horror and science fiction short stories. He achieved early local recognition, largely through the enthusiasm of George Sterling, for traditional verse in the vein of Swinburne. As a poet, Smith is grouped with the West Coast Romantics alongside Ambrose Bierce, Joaquin Miller, Sterling, Nora May French, and remembered as “The Last of the Great Romantics” and “The Bard of Auburn”.
Smith was one of “the big three of Weird Tales, with Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft“, but some readers objected to his morbidness and violation of pulp traditions. The fantasy critic L. Sprague de Camp said of him that “nobody since Poe has so loved a well-rotted corpse. “Smith was a member of the Lovecraft circle and his literary friendship with Lovecraft lasted from 1922 until Lovecraft’s death in 1937. His work is marked by an extraordinarily rich and ornate vocabulary, a cosmic perspective and a vein of sardonic and sometimes ribald humor.
Of his writing style, Smith stated that: “My own conscious ideal has been to delude the reader into accepting an impossibility, or series of impossibilities, by means of a sort of verbal black magic, in the achievement of which I make use of prose-rhythm, metaphor, simile, tone-color, counter-point, and other stylistic resources, like a sort of incantation.”