Letter on Clark Ashton Smith

Ray Bradbury

Trying to add up the impact of an author's life, his impress on others, is very difficult. One reaches back for memories, and my memory of Clark Ashton Smith is blended permanently with a cover painting by Paul for an old issue of Wonder Stories, October 1932, in which his story "Master of the Asteroid" appeared.

And not only did Smith's life blend with Paul's on that one occasion, but yet another vision comes to me of the union of this pair in the story/painting for "City of the Singing Flame."

Why these two stories, these two illustrations, moved me and have stayed with me for the rest of my life, who can really say? There was a fearful blend of isolation and loneliness in the one, and a high and fantastic imagination in the other. In any event, there is no doubt in my mind that these two men, with story and with picture, were important to my being stimulated into becoming a writer. They belong on a list where I place the old Lon Chaney films, the Oz books, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Buck Rogers, and Flash Gordon, those special lists of huge loves which excited me to the world and its mysteries and made me want to do something about it.

This is more than enough for any writer, later, looking back. The fact that someone permanently touched and changed and excited his life. For this I shall always be grateful.


From: Emperor of Dreams: A Clark Ashton Smith Bibliography, Donald Sidney-Fryer. Donald M. Grant, 1978.

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