Sunday, October 27, 2013

Quelle Horreur!

Today's another busy day for me, I'm working the Fall fundraiser and I don't have the time to be surfing the Intert00bz. I composed this post yesterday in the wee hours of the morning. This being October, a month for scary stories, I think I should post some links to some of my favorite works of "weird" fiction. Clark Ashton Smith is a woefully under-appreciated (though I've shown my love for the guy) master of the "weird" tale. His fiction blended the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres, with his stories often displaying a mordant (and morbid) wit. Smith was immortalized by his pen-pal H.P. Lovecraft as the Atlantean high priest Klarkash-Ton in his tale The Whisperer in Darkness.

Some of my favorite C.A.S. tales are set in the fictional French province of Averoigne, which was modeled after the real province of Auvergne. I imagine that Averoigne is bordered by James Branch Cabell's fictional province of Poictesme and C.L. Moore's fictional province of Joiry. Smith's Averoigne is inhabited by a disparate population of insufficiently faithful clergymen, a coterie of necromancers, at least two alluring enchantresses, and a passel of werewolves and vampires.

The best known tale in the "Averoigne Cycle" is probably The Colossus of Ylourgne, which details an involved revenge plot by the necromancer Nathaire, driven from the town of Vyones "during a year of unusual inquisitory zeal". The protagonist of the story, the less unsavory student of alchemy and sorcery Gaspard du Nord,e was incorporated into H.P. Lovecraft's "mythos" as the translator of the ancient and uncanny Book of Eibon (Eibon being the protagonist of Smith's The Door to Saturn.

Another infamous "Averoigne" tale is The Beast of Averoigne, which is a tale of an alien invasion, interpreted by a Benedictine monk as the visitation of a denizen of hell.

In a more comic vein, The Holiness of Azédarac is a tale of one Brother Ambrose, sent on a mission to investigate allegations of heresy on the part of a bishop, during which he meets the enchantress Moriamis.

The Eldritch Dark, one of my favorite websites, collects the works of Clark Ashton Smith. The website, a trove of gloriously purple prose and sonorous poetry, is quite a dangerous time sink. The trip to Averoigne is only a matter of a couple of hours, though.

7 comments:

Aunt Snow said...

Perfect reading for Halloween! Hope the fundraisers are going well!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I knew there was a reason I avoided French classes when I was in elementary school!
~

mikey said...

Mr. Bastard, I implore you. You must find the out of print but utterly sublime masterpiece "Where were you last Pluterday" by Paul van Herck. It's been out of print for years, but I buy a copy every now and then as a gift from Abe Books.

You will be forever glad you read it, you will NEVER forget it, and it will stay with you in odd and unusual moments.

And you will once and for all learn the truth about water (it's wet and cold), the bible (written by a down and out science fiction author using a time machine, and making said author ridiculously wealthy as it is the best-selling book of all time) and Martians (they, along with coffee pots, tend to be primitive and narrow minded).

Alongside "Another Roadside Attraction", (which I just assume you have read at LEAST once, and probably more), 'Pluterday' stands as the defining moment in pre-modern science fiction...

mikey said...

Hmm. You're right - Robbins is a lot of things, science, theocracy, philosophy, fantasy, humor, madness and magic, but it's not science fiction. That sentence was actually a paragraph, digitally compressed and condensed by Readers Digest into an awkward phraseology that nonetheless represents a larger, if thinner, truth....

Substance McGravitas said...

Most recent reading is SJ Perelman and I am slow slow slow at it.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Perfect reading for Halloween! Hope the fundraisers are going well!

I love CAS' body of work. The fundraisers are going well as far as raising funds is concerned, but the organization's decision to outsource custodial functions has been a disaster. I've learned more about commercial paper product dispensers in the past three weeks than I've ever learned in my previous years.

I knew there was a reason I avoided French classes when I was in elementary school!

Naughty, Thunder, very naughty!

Mr. Bastard, I implore you. You must find the out of print but utterly sublime masterpiece "Where were you last Pluterday" by Paul van Herck. It's been out of print for years, but I buy a copy every now and then as a gift from Abe Books

I'm going to have to track that one down.

Hmm. You're right - Robbins is a lot of things, science, theocracy, philosophy, fantasy, humor, madness and magic, but it's not science fiction.

My favorite work by Robbins is Still Life with Woodpecker.

Most recent reading is SJ Perelman and I am slow slow slow at it.

I'm reading M. John Harrison's The Pastel City, it's the "missing link" between Jack Vance's The Dying Earth and Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun.

Smut Clyde said...

Note to self: Write moar Averoigne pastiche.