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Further Reading
Posted by: Francis D'Eramo (IP Logged)
Date: 2 April, 2002 03:31PM
As Gavin knows, I used to belong to the Zothique Nights egroup. At one point I asked the group for suggestions about further reading for someone who was a CAS fan. I got the sort of suggestions that I might have expected (Jack Vance, Mervyn Peake). One member also suggested "Throne of Bones" by Brian McNaughton. I read this, and I recommend it highly. McNaughton was quite obviously influenced by CAS, which he acknowledges, but the book is by no means a CAS pastiche.

If anyone else has any suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them.

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Boyd Pearson (IP Logged)
Date: 2 April, 2002 05:29PM
I Loved "Throne of Bones" but have herd mixed things about McNaughton's other works so if any one could suggest what other of his works to read and not to read that would be good.

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Francis D'Eramo (IP Logged)
Date: 2 April, 2002 05:56PM
I read two other collections by McNaughton, "Nasty Stories" and "More Nasty Stories." There was a story in a quasi-medieval setting, and a sequel to "The Colossus of Ylourgne." There was also a good Cthulhu Mythos story about the Children of Dagon. Otherwise they were mostly in contemporary settings.

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Ron Hilger (IP Logged)
Date: 2 April, 2002 11:00PM
I would be very interested to read this sequel to "Colossus" by McNaughton, what is the title of this story? I also enjoyed "Throne of Bones" but I did think the morbid ghoulishness and sexual perversity was overdone in several of the stories. Really, it was unneccesary considering the strength of McNaughton's style and the fascinating setting of these stories, IMHO.
-Ron

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: George Hager (IP Logged)
Date: 3 April, 2002 09:36AM
:-|

I see the same sort of hit-or-miss writing from so many authors of my favorite books. I loved the entire Dying Earth series from Jack Vance, and most of his short stories, but I can't seem to choke down much of his outer space sci fi.

I'll have to explore this McNaughton dude. Thanks for the suggestion.

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Francis D'Eramo (IP Logged)
Date: 3 April, 2002 12:12PM
It was called "The Return of the Colossus," and it's in "Even More Nasty Stories." But even though it features the very Colossus of Ylourgne, it is thematically very different than the CAS story.

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Boyd Pearson (IP Logged)
Date: 3 April, 2002 02:43PM
Vance - ick i just don't like him thou every one compares him to cas i just don,t get it

"sexual perversity " of Brain i like a lot Ron - but then I'm reading Filth by Irving Welsh at the moment and loving it.

No one has mentioned Poppy Z Brite yet so i will. "His mouth will taste of wormwood" was my first introduction to here in the Cthulhu 2000 anthology and i loved it. There are some great pictures of her on the net too.

B.:-D

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Francis D'Eramo (IP Logged)
Date: 3 April, 2002 05:37PM
I've always loved Vance. There's not a more unique voice in science fiction or fantasy. He's had some tremedous ideas, like the worlds of "The Dragon Masters" and "The Last Castle." Conversely, he's written some space operas with unoriginal plots, but even these are saved his writing style. He and CAS are similar in the exotic qualities they give to their secondary worlds, and in the sense of irony that pervades their stories.

Vance, I am told, denies being influenced by CAS.

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: George Hager (IP Logged)
Date: 4 April, 2002 04:56PM
<<No one has mentioned Poppy Z Brite yet so i will.>>

Hey, Poppy & I both have ties to Chapel Hill and New Orleans, and are of a similar age. No doubt we know some of the same people. Maybe I've even seen her naked on stage, or vice versa.

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: George Hager (IP Logged)
Date: 4 April, 2002 05:45PM
And once again, the link between horror and food stares us boldly in the face. PZB's husband is a chef.

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Anonymous User (IP Logged)
Date: 9 April, 2002 05:31PM
Another suggestion is Gary Myers, whose HOUSE OF THE WORM was put out by Arkham House. Sort of a mix between Dunsany and CAS, very good stuff. He also has a story in THE NEW LOVECRAFT CIRCLE anthology edited by Robert Price for F&B which is very strongly redolent of CAS.

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Ron Hilger (IP Logged)
Date: 10 April, 2002 11:49PM
After hearing that Gene Wolfe's "Shadow of the Torturer" and other New Sun books were similar to CAS, I picked some of them up. While I liked the first two books in the series (and plan to read the next two as well) I see no resemblance to CAS in either style or plot. While Wolfe's creation is set in a far future world like Zothique, the two are distinctly different in concept.
Still, I feel rewarded in picking up these books, they are certainly great reading. However, I did not care for Wolfe's contribution in "The Last Continent". I thought this tale was more like some weird western than a fantasy set in CAS' Zothique.
-Ron

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: George Hager (IP Logged)
Date: 11 April, 2002 10:45AM
I think CAS is one among many of Gene Wolfe's influences. I can see some H.P. Lovecraft there, perhaps some Bradbury, and much, much influence from early mystery writers. In the end, he has his own voice.

I haven't gotten <i>The Last Continent</i> yet, but I really want to read it. I suppose there are a couple of reasons the story didn't seem like CAS's work. He probably didn't feel like researching every detail of Zothique to avoid contradicting CAS, and everyone knows that copycats get no respect in the literary world.

Were other stories in the book more attuned to the original Zothique?

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Boyd Pearson (IP Logged)
Date: 11 April, 2002 04:28PM
:-( I was owed a copy of The Last Continent by Bereshith for some work I did for them but they never paid up.

I agree that Wolf's resemblance to CAS is tenuous at best but he is one of my favourite fantasy authors now even if I don't always know what is going on in the story.

I think they only resemblance really is the setting of the 'new sun'

B.

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Jim Rockhill (IP Logged)
Date: 15 April, 2002 11:51AM
McNaughton's "The Return of the Colossus" was first published in WEIRDBOOK #29. It is entertaining, but not up to the tale that inspired it. I completely forgot the plot and characters shortly after reading it. The best thing I have read by McNaughton remains the linked series of tales from which the book THE THRONE OF BONES takes its name. Individually some of these tales may not seem like much more than exercises in grue, but the cumulative effect of the complex interlinks between one tale and another is impressive.

I believe it was wise on the part of the publisher to place S. T. Joshi's remarks on the tales as an afterward to this book, because the following statement seems guaranteed to make anyone truly familiar with Smith's prose tales dislike McNaughton's book prior to reading any of the tales:

"Perhaps Clark Ashton Smith, with his delightful mixing of morbidity and humour and his evocative use of language, is the chief influence on McNaughton; but let me say bluntly that, in my hunmble opinion, McNaughton is a better prose writer than Smith."

I have nothing against McNaughton's prose, which seems perfectly in tune with the tales in this book, but I fail to find any passage in THE THRONE OF BONES that is superior to the prose in "The Maze of Maal Dweb", "Xeethra", either of the Malygris tales, "The Weird of Avoosl Wuthoqqan", etc.

Jim

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Anonymous User (IP Logged)
Date: 15 April, 2002 02:50PM
"Perhaps Clark Ashton Smith, with his delightful mixing of morbidity and humour and his evocative use of language, is the chief influence on McNaughton; but let me say bluntly that, in my hunmble opinion, McNaughton is a better prose writer than Smith."


Yeah, well, even Joshi is entitled to a boneheaded opinion from time to time. That would be a good phrase, come to think of it: "in my boneheaded opinion". Guess it's too late to get it into the paperback.

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Francis D'Eramo (IP Logged)
Date: 15 April, 2002 07:24PM
McNaughton writes very, very well in "Throne of Bones." I'm much less impressed with his other work. I think Joshi's comparison of McNaughton and CAS is unfair all around. McNaughton is influenced by CAS, but has digested that influence and used it to create something original. This is in direct contrast to the Lin Carter pastiches of CAS found in "The Book of Eibon."

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Derrick Hussey (IP Logged)
Date: 15 April, 2002 09:32PM
To his credit, though, Joshi deems Smith a very fine poet. Although I haven;t seen a manusctript yet, I assume S. T. has written a decent introduction to The Last Oblivion.

Once, a guy made the comment to me that Smith should have stuck to sculpture! It takes all kinds, I guess.

Derrick

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Jim Rockhill (IP Logged)
Date: 16 April, 2002 12:32AM
Derrick is correct, and Joshi does praise Smith's poetry in his introduction of THE THRONE OF BONES.

Jim

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Anonymous User (IP Logged)
Date: 16 April, 2002 12:06PM
And I believe he's on record as saying he considers Smith's prose poems to be the greatest in the English language. Not sure there's that much competition, but hey, we take what we can get.

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Gavin Smith (IP Logged)
Date: 18 April, 2002 05:51PM
Hey ho, mi amici! I happen to have 4 copies on hand right now of the Wildside trade paperback of Throne of Bones by McNaughton ($16.95) which are all just meeping with anticipation of meeting their new owners. To adopt one of them, do drop me a note. PayPal accepted with my e-mail address, checks and money orders welcome. $2.00 post.

Gavin Smith
3408 Pleasant Run Road
Irving, Texas 75062-3255

My own take on the Joshi quote, the only thing boneheaded about it is the way Joshi (apparently) leaves it to our imaginations as to how he means that McNaughton is a "better" prose writer than CASmith. My own intuition here is that he may mean that, if all you want is a good prose writer, CASmith being ever so much more than just that (if that), many writers are clearly "better", but to what end? Let's not forget how hard it is to read Smith. But it is worth the effort. If all you want is a competent writer with a clear style, Smith is obviously flawed. From that angle, many writers are "better".

Think about who we are talking about here: does anyone thing that Joshi does not "get" Smith? This is not a head-scratcher, folks.

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Anonymous User (IP Logged)
Date: 18 April, 2002 07:16PM
>>Does anyone thing that Joshi does not "get" Smith?

Why not? Critics have blind spots. And for all his worthy achievements Mr. J's also suffered the occasional embarassments. Much discussion of that in the Zothique Nights archive, Gavin, you may recall.

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Jim Rockhill (IP Logged)
Date: 19 April, 2002 05:48PM
Everyone has their blind spots. I suspect that Mr. Joshi is simply more honest about his than most people.

Jim

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Ron Hilger (IP Logged)
Date: 20 April, 2002 01:35AM

I've heard that Joshi formed his initial opinion of CAS' fiction after reading "Tales of Science and Sorcery" and nothing else. While there are some good stories in this book, it is certainly not representative of Smith's best work.
There was also the bit in the HPL Bio. "A Life" where Joshi dismisses Smith as simply a hack who needed some quick money. That's pretty harsh. Joshi does seem to be revising his opinion of Smith's fiction for the better these days, and he has always had a high regard for his poetry.
-Ron

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Jim Rockhill (IP Logged)
Date: 20 April, 2002 12:56PM
This thing ate my first attempt to answer your post, Ron. Here is another attempt.

It is not only unfortunate that Mr. Joshi might have used TALES OF SCIENCE & SORCERY to forge his opinion of Smith's fiction, it also strike me as unfortunate. In his essays devoted to individual authors, Joshi strives to read as much of an authors' work--fictional, nonfictional and verse--as possible before formulating an opinion. That is one of the sources of my respect for a majority of his work. I may not agree with his conclusions all of the time, but I know that he arrived at them more conscientiously than do a lot of other critics. It is too bad that if he was willing to voice his opinion of Smith's work on limited acquaintance, that he did not have access to either OUT OF SPACE AND TIME or LOST WORLDS from which to do so. Smith's collections tend to be organized in terms of diminishing worth. There are good fantasies in each of them, but the best scientifiction tales tend to be in the first two books. Most of the scientifiction in subsequent volumes either bores or irritates me. The first collection represents Smith's own selection of his best and the second volume those favorites he had to squeeze out of the first, with the subsequent volumes representing uneven selections of the good and the indifferent. Since Joshi's obvious (and stated) bias is toward supernatural realism, I suspect that he would tend to take those tales set in contemporary settings and the straight-forward scientifiction tales--genres at which Smith not only did not excel, but in which he showed little interest in writing and little sympathy in reading--more seriously than the heroic fantasies and the scientific fantasies at which Smith excelled. I suspect there may be a (temporary?) temperamental divide separating Joshi from appreciation of Smith's fiction, just as there is between Joshi and the fiction of M. R. James.

Jim

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Ron Hilger (IP Logged)
Date: 22 April, 2002 01:45AM
I'm of the opinion that it's pointless to compare CAS to HPl; although they both wrote in the genres of Fantasy and the Macabre, their individual approach to writing was completely different(in most cases.) CAS used an artistic, poetic approach, and did not usually develop an intricate plot. HPL utilized an exacting documentary style that depended heavily on a meticulous development of plot. Of course it's impossible to sum up the writing technique of these two masters in one sentence, but to seriously attempt comparison is like comparing apples to oranges.
I also have to say that if CAS was simply a "hack" then he certainly put a lot more effort into his tales than was necessary, and gave the editors and readers alike much more for their money than other pulp writers. Of course, there are some tales, such as the "Volmar" stories, where CAS stoops to hackwork. But usually, as in this case, he does so at the editors specific request.
-Ron

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Jim Rockhill (IP Logged)
Date: 22 April, 2002 05:57AM
I agree with you, Ron. On those occasions when Smith did write hack-work, I believe, as you do and as Smith has recorded in his letters if I remember correctly, that he was forced to do so by the editors of the magazines for which he was writing. As we have seen in such tales as "The Dweller in the Gulf" these editors were not even above reshaping Smith's fiction to meet their perceived market needs without the author's knowledge or consent.

By the way, in my irritation over having to write my prior post twice, and recall whatever point I had been attempting to make, I wrote "not only unfortunate. . . but unfortunate" when I meant that last word to be "inconsistent".

Jim

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Anonymous User (IP Logged)
Date: 23 April, 2002 01:10PM
>>Of course it's impossible to sum up the writing technique of these two masters in one sentence, but to seriously attempt comparison is like comparing apples to oranges.


I always find this an odd simile. Why can't we compare apples to oranges? Let's see...apples are red (sometimes green or yellow), oranges are orange, they are both fruits, they both grow on trees, apples have a smooth, think skin, oranges have a bumpy, thicker skin....

See, it's not that difficult!

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Francis D'Eramo (IP Logged)
Date: 23 April, 2002 02:37PM
All right, Gabriel! Now do pomegranates and kiwis.

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Boyd Pearson (IP Logged)
Date: 23 April, 2002 04:12PM
Francis D'Eramo wrote:
>
> All right, Gabriel! Now do pomegranates and kiwis.

kiwis are small nocturnal flightless birds, pomegranates are small flightless fruit.

Re: Further Reading
Posted by: Francis D'Eramo (IP Logged)
Date: 23 April, 2002 08:04PM
Bravo!



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