From the vampire-cursed realm of medieval Averoigne to the time-ravaged spires of dying Zothique, the works of Clark Ashton Smith comprise a unique and imperishable legacy. A major pillar of Arkham House since 1942, Smith was a member of the Weird Tales triumvirate, including H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, who created a now-legendary golden age of American dark fantasy during the 1930s.
Of these three authors, Clark Ashton Smith was the master literary sorcerer, presiding over a vast verbal apothecarium of piquant savors and precipitates. The author once defined fantastic literature as being "akin to sublime and exalted poetry, in its evocation of tremendous, non-anthropomorphic imageries," and the stories collected herein seem to defy the capacity of the English language to render sonorous rhythms, subtle shades and nuances of meaning, awesome conjurations of exoticism and mystery. In employing his prismatic prose to erect edifices of wonder, Smith became a seminal figure in the fictional presentation of alien cultures and influenced an entire generation of younger fantasists, including Ray Bradbury, Fritz Leiber, Theodore Sturgeon, and of course, Jack Vance.
Return now to the realms of Clark Ashton Smith, where the sciences have been forgotten and the necromantic arts reborn, where decadent kings and malefic wizards stride through the ruins of a dim-lit landscape, where under the blackened moon and paling sun, the world grows old...
Introduction by Ray Bradbury.
Clark Ashton Smith (1893–1961) was a poet, sculptor, painter and author of fantasy, horror and science fiction short stories. It is for these stories, and his literary friendship with H. P. Lovecraft from 1922 until Lovecraft's death in 1937, that he is mostly remembered today. With Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, also a friend and correspondent, Smith remains one of the most famous contributors to the pulp magazine Weird Tales.
Photo: Clark Ashton Smith in 1912. Photo source: Wikimedia Commons.