Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I'm feeling under the weather today -- stupid Springtime cold -- and have a backlog of emails and writing to do, so please forgive my absence. However, I did want to pass along a discovery I made this morning, namely that Nightshade Books has finally begun to publish Scott Connors and Roy Hilger's definitive collection of Clark Ashton Smith's fantasies. Three volumes of a projected five have already been published. I ordered the first one today and will almost certainly pick up the others over the next few months.
Smith, along with Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft, was one of the greatest pulp fantasy writers of all time. He had a profound influence on the development of modern fantasy and, while Gygax himself was not much affected by CAS, Tom Moldvay wrote the classic Castle Amber as an homage to Smith (much as The Lost City was an homage to Howard). Likewise, Jack Vance, while again not explicitly influenced by Smith, writes in a style that reminds me greatly of Smith and might reasonably be called his modern heir.
In any event, as I get older, my appreciation for Smith and his stories grows. There's a world-weariness to it that appeals to me, but there's also a sense of wonder and mystery and horror that make for a heady combination. He's certainly the most "romantic" of the three musketeers of Weird Tales and maybe that's why my estimation of his writing grows. He's a great inspiration for anyone looking for a different take on pulp fantasy and I recommend him without reservation.