It's no secret that I'm a fan of Clark Kent and his primary-color-clad alter-ego... but you might not have known that I'm an avid fan of that other Clark, the third leg of the Weird Tales triumvirate. I first discovered Clark Ashton Smith in the late 1960's, after reading mention of him in an article about H.P. Lovecraft. I had already read Robert E. Howard's work, so I figured that any guy who ranked in their league was worth a shot. One paperback later, and I was hooked.
If HPL was a horrorist and REH was an adventurist, then CAS was a fantasist. His stories are redolent of mood and atmosphere, rich and heady and captivating. Oh, he can tell a horror tale, and he can write adventure, but he does it in the spirit of a waylaid Pre-Raphaelite.
Night Shade Press has launched a series collecting all of CAS's short fiction; the first volume is out in hardcover now, and it's worth the admission price. Like so many of the authors, he truly came into his own a bit later in his career, but even his early work shows the distinctive narrative voice and style that defined his literary career.