Letter to H. P. Lovecraft

From Clark Ashton Smith

[4] [10 December 1929]

Dear H.P.L.:

[. . .] I am astounded at the scope of some of your "revisory" labors! I fervently hope you will soon have time for something you can publish under your own name, The idea at which you hint, for an interplanetary story, is superb. I think the psychic, rather than physical, precipitation of your hero into an alien orb should have infinite possibilities. Odd — or perhaps not odd — my own imaginings have run at times along a somewhat similar channel. I have an idea for a yarn to be called "The Planet of the Dead" — dealing with a world in which there remained few living beings, and where these few were carrying out a sort of memorial and mortuary existence, overwhelmed by, and absorbed in, the monstrous shadow of the past and its innumerable sepulchers and ruins. In a way, it would be an expansion of an old prose-poem of mine, "From the Crypts of Memory"; but would differ from this in having an earthly hero, drawn to this planet by his spiritual affinity with the inhabitants. [. . .]

I have finished "The Monster of the Prophecy" [. . .] It struck me on re-reading the thing that I had consciously or unconsciously satirized pretty nearly everything! Even science, and the pseudo-scientific type of yarn now prevalent, are made a josh of in the first chapter, in the creation of the absurd "space-annihilator". But of course the profoundest satire is that which is directed at intolerance of all kinds. I seem to have put far more intellectual ideas into the story than into anything else of mine — which, of course, may have ruined it from a purely artistic stand-point.

[. . .]

A poet-friend of mine, Susan Myra Gregory of Monterey, sister of the novelist Jackson Gregory, asked me to write a preface for a little collection of her verse which is being brought out in Southern California. She has a real lyric talent, of the true feminine Sapphic type, and I was glad to do the preface — an odd interlude in the writing of my Antarean novelette..[1]

[. . .] I'm praying that [Wright] will take "The Monster", which really ought to attract attention. I'm sure it's the first interplanetary story on record, where the hero didn't return to earth at the end!

I bought a copy of Science-Wonder Stories, which is not dissimilar to Amazing Stories. There was one yarn, however, called "The Vapor Intelligence", which didn't reek so much of the laboratory. I may try them with something, presently. I can see that if I am to make a real living out of fiction, I am in for a certain mount of quasi-hackwork.

I'm going to wish you a happy holiday season with this. And may Thoth be auspicious in granting you the time for some work of your own. By the way, if you have any old typescripts around that I haven't seen, I'd appreciate a peep at them. I don't know anything that would refresh me so much. I take out the typescript of "Dagon" that you once gave me, and reread it every so often.

As ever, your friend,


  1. The introduction Smith refers to was for Shadows of Wings by Susan Myra Gregory (San Diego, 1930); reprinted in Strange Shadows: The Uncollected Fiction of Clark Ashton Smith (1989).

From: Clark Ashton Smith: LETTERS TO H. P. LOVECRAFT, edited by and footnotes by Steve Behrends (July 1987) Necronomicon Press.

Printed from: www.eldritchdark.com/writings/correspondence/14
Printed on: November 14, 2018