Shot of the Good Stuff: Clark Ashton Smith, “Return of the Sorcerer”

Clark Ashton Smith was one of the trinity of headline talents in Weird Tales, alongside Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. A poet who preferred the 19th gothic to modern forms, he went into the pulps to make dough during the Depression. But he brought to it a wild imagination and command of language that made his take on “les weird” stick out from the dime a dozen horror and spicy gothic tales around him. “The Return of the Sorcerer” is a nice little piece of gory horror (which actually reminded me a bit of REH’s first Weird Tales sale, “Spear and Fang”, despite utterly different contexts), and even the Necronomicon shows up as the McGuffin of Doom for a translator hired to partake in an academic’s dark quest for knowledge. My favorite was the battle cry “Dear Satan, and the Satan before Satan!”

If you like your pulp literary and weird as opposed to manic and purple, grab some CAS post haste!




About ridlerville

Jason S. Ridler is a historian, writer, and improv actor. He is the author of A TRIUMPH FOR SAKURA, BLOOD AND SAWDUST, the Spar Battersea thrillers and has published over sixty stories in such magazines and anthologies as The Big Click, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Out of the Gutter, and more. He also writes the column FXXK WRITING! for Flash Fiction Online. A former punk rock musician and cemetery groundskeeper, Mr. Ridler holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. He lives in Richmond, CA. Visit him on Facebook at
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