Letter to H. P. Lovecraft

From Clark Ashton Smith

[22] [c. early August 1931]

At the opening, on Eros,
of the time-vault that
conducts upon former aeons
when Eros was part of the
major planet, Antanoth,
which revolved between
Mars and Jupiter.

Dear E'ch-Pi-El:

Your letter came just as I was on the point of writing you to express my appreciation of "At the Mountains of Madness". The ms. came from Wandrei per schedule, and has now been forwarded to Dwyer. I read the story twice — parts of it three or four times — and think it is one of your masterpieces. For my taste, anyway, it is vastly superior to Poe's Antarctic opus, "Arthur Gordon Pym". I'll never forget your descriptions of that tremendous non-human architecture, and the on-rushing shoggoth in an underworld cavern! Wright's rejection was certainly a piece of triple-dyed and quadruple-plated lunacy.

You must have had a superb vacation-tour! But I can understand your gladness to be back on natal soil: one is more or less rootless and uptorn anywhere else. I wouldn't mind getting away from Auburn for a brief trip, but see no chance of it this year. The fire-hazard still exists, for one thing.

[. . .]

Last month was certainly a busy one for me, with the forest fire, et al. Then, along about the 15th, I received a letter from the Wonder Stories editor, enclosing a plot that had taken second prize in the Quarterly's plot contest [. . .] asking me to make a story out of it. The plot, called "The Martian", by one E. M. Johnston of Ontario, was pretty good, so the job wasn't so disagreeable as it sounds. [. . .] I had to write and retype the whole yarn — about 16,000 words — in a little more than a week, so that it could reach N.Y. by the end of July. I hope it will pass muster — it ought to be a pretty fair scientifictional opus. [1] [. . .]

[. . .]

I've started three new tales, but haven't gone very far with any of them yet. One, "The Master of Destruction", will bring in my time-vault idea, and will take the hero into the lost world of which the asteroids are the problematic fragments. Archaeology on the asteroids will prove somewhat mischancy! The hero starts out by finding a beautiful mummy, wearing an amulet which contains a scroll in his own handwriting! The tale will run to 25,000 words or more, and might be utilized as a two-part serial by Wright if it fails to land as a novelette with Astounding or Strange Tales. Another projected tale is "The Cairn", which brings in the idea of a sort of tread-mill property in space, rendering unapproachable an object which is seemingly near at hand. [2]

Write soon. Yrs, in the dark
evangelism of Azathoth,


  1. Originally titled "The Martian", Smith's completed story appeared in Wonder Stories under the title "The Planet-Entity" When the story was selected for inclusion in Tales of Science and Sorcery (1964) Smith changed its name to "Seedling of Mars".
  2. "The Cairn" was Smith's first title for "The Secret of the Cairn", which was retitled "The Light from Beyond" (Lost Worlds (1944)) by the Wonder Stories editor upon publication.

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/33
Printed on: January 21, 2019