Lost Worlds (1944)

In addition to keeping Lovecraft in print, Arkham House did a lot to further the careers of other weird fiction authors. This is Clark Ashton Smith’s second short fiction collection Lost Worlds, published in 1944. The cover art features a photo of three of Smith’s grotesque sculptures.

Smith had a bit less direct influence on RPGs than other weird writers because he wasn’t included in Gygax’s Appendix N in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide. The module X2: Castle Amber draws heavily on Smith’s Averoigne stories though. His creations, of course, appear in Call of Cthulhu, and you can see his ideas about prehistory and alien worlds in Earthdawn, Talislanta, Skyrealms of Jorune and elsewhere.

Smith always struck me as aloof from the other writers who shared in Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. This might be because when I was younger and gorging on the stuff, not a lot of his stories were readily in print. His mystique, for me, remains largely intact, helped by the fact that his work is distinctly strange and lyrical. It seems almost an accident that he succeeded to any degree in the pulps, especially when you compare him to say, Robert Howard or August Derleth – no nonsense writers who tend to punch you in the face with their prose.

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