Lost Worlds Vol I – Clark Ashton Smith (1971)
Smith’s mixture of Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction is maybe an acquired taste, although I always found him highly addictive. Very much in the HP Lovecraft school of writing, his work features Elder Gods, ‘Things’ creeping into our world from the beyond and Far Future Earths of wasted deserts in which Necropoli turn up with alarming regularity.
In this volume the stories are split into three sections:
Zothique (being Smith’s world of the far future: Necromancers, plagues, kidnapped princesses and the walking dead)
The Empire of the Necromancers – (Weird Tales – September 1932)
The Isle of the Torturers – (Weird Tales – March 1933)
Necromancy in Naat – (Weird Tales – July 1936)
Xeethra – (Weird Tales – December 1934)
Averoigne (Smith’s French medieval setting where the Church is in constant battle with the forces of darkness. A demon-worshipping bishop is not the least of the worries as a soul-devouring demon has arrived on a passing comet and is sucking the marrow from random French people.)
The Holiness of Azedarac – (Weird Tales – November 1933)
The Beast of Averoigne – (Weird Tales – May 1933)
There is a final selection of other stories, one of which features a ‘Time Machine’ tale (The Letter From Mohaun Los) in which a scientist and his Chinese servant travel to another world due to the fact that when setting off they failed to take into account the movement of the Solar System. They visit a couple of planets, rescue an alien and settle down together.
We also have a sculptor who summons minor demons as life models for his sculpture, which is never a good move (The Hunters from Beyond), visitations from extra-dimensional benign beings (The Light from Beyond) and the unfortunate summoning of a destructive Elder God, (The Treader of Dust).
All in all, it’s a good introduction to Smith’s work, and worth reading again if it’s a work with which you’re already familiar.
The Letter from Mohaun Los (Flight into Super-Time) – (Wonder Stories – August 1932)
The Light from Beyond – (Wonder Stories – April 1933)
The Hunters from Beyond – (Strange Tales – October 1932)
The Treader of the Dust – (Weird Tales – August 1935)
Bison Books have recently published a combined edition of Vols I & II