Science Fiction Book Review


The Emperor of Dreams

(2002) Clark Ashton Smith, Gollancz, 7.99, pbk, 580pp, ISBN 0-575-07373-X

Volume 26 of Gollancz's Fantasy Masterworks series is a very welcome collection of the work of Clark Ashton Smith. Weird Tales, the premiere pulp title of the mid-1920s to early 1950s, brought out the work of a plethora of stars of the SF and Fantasy/Horror pantheon including a triumvirate who, more than any others, inspired the work of successive generations. Perhaps the two best known of these were HP Lovecraft and Robert E Howard, but the third was the fantastic poet and short story writer (also artist and sculptor!) Clark Ashton Smith. I first became aware of his work with the mid-seventies Panther editions of the collections Out of Space and Time (1942) and Tales of Science and Sorcery (1964), as well as the odd story here and there in anthologies drawing their material from Weird Tales. Needless to say I was blown away, as I had been by Lovecraft, and immediately started to devour as much CAS as I could lay my hands on. Imagine my delight, therefore, with this collection which gathers over 40 tales of the master, managing to include some I had never read before! There is also a detailed afterward by Stephen Jones of biographical and publishing details. It is very gratifying to see Gollancz showing the same discernment with their Fantasy Masterworks as with the SF counterpart, and many congratulations to them. I'd probably most recommend this book to lovers of HPL, but gladly point all and sundry in this direction also for the lyrical prose, weird visions and atmospheric terrors that helped define the SF field and paved the way for the generations of horrors that followed.

Tony Chester


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