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The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies (Penguin Classics) Paperback – March 25, 2014
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“[Smith] is a fantasist with a much subtler graph of what gives the genre known as ‘weird fiction’ its own peculiar delights...Smith’s vision echoes through popular culture...‘The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis’ [is] the template for later science fiction horrors such as Alien and The Thing—just as ‘The Dark Eidolon’ itself looks ahead to every evil sorcerer in fantasy novels and films.”
—Peter Bebergal, Times Literary Supplement
"In sheer daemonic strangeness and fertility of conception, he is perhaps unexcelled by any other writer, dead or living. Who else has seen such gorgeous, luxurious, and feverishly distorted visions of infinite spheres and lived to tell the tale?"
—H. P. Lovecraft
"Smith is sui generis, one of the most uninfluenced and original writers I know of. A germ from Poe, a little fire from George Sterling, perhaps an acid drop from Bierce, the color and cruelty of Eastern Legends."
"Incredible worlds, impossibly beautiful cities, and still more fantastic creatures. . . Take one step across the threshold of his stories and you plunge into colour, sound, taste, smell and texture: into language."
"It is often impossible to say where man's inspirations come from . . . my impetus remains as bright and compelling as it was the day I removed it from a library shelf . . . and passed—incredibly!—out of that building through a portal to the City where the Singing Flame lived."
About the Author
Clark Ashton Smith (1893–1961) was a poet, an artist, and the author of more than a hundred tales of fantasy and horror. He was a member of the famous “Lovecraft circle” and was a major contributor to Weird Tales, along with Robert E. Howard and Lovecraft himself.
S. T. Joshi is a freelance writer and editor. He has edited several Penguin Classics volumes, including The Call of Cthulhu, The White People and Other Weird Stories, and American Supernatural Tales.
Top customer reviews
If you enjoy the stories found within I highly recommend you check out his others as they're all worth reading. Even in a curated selection like this you can't include all the top-tier stories.
He along with Lovecraft, Loveman, Kuttner and Howard, among others would get together and test their stories. Though for Howard he could only do it by mail since he lived in Texas. They would bounce ideas off of each other and some would write prodigious letters including poems and artwork.
CAS gives a different flavor in his writings from Lovecraft or Robert E. Howard so that the ready can get different literary taste testing as they explore new lands.
Reading CAS did, however, bring up an interesting question for me as a reader. According to Joshi's introduction, Smith was forced by circumstance to be a bit more ruthlessly pragmatic in his approach to writing than Lovecraft (well, circumstances tried to force Lovecraft, but he just chose to ignore them). Faced with the necessity of supporting ailing parents, Smith apparently gave way much more frequently to the editorial demands of the pulps who paid him, as opposed to HPL, who liked to take his toys and go home. So the question arises: Am I enjoying CAS more consistently than HPL because he's gone commercial and sold out and I'm just culturally conditioned to enjoy that kind of thing? Or did the need to work within the strictures of editorial review make his work better than it otherwise might have been?
It's a point worth considering, though it's not one that can be settled without a greater exploration of Smith's work. Which - despite the unintentional horror of those prose poems - I'm more than willing to undertake.