As previously mentioned, Clark Ashton Smith was a writer in the Lovecraftian vein, though his tales have, for the most part, been less apocalyptic and his monsters, when the stories involve them, less Cyclopean than Lovecraft’s tended to be. This collection is also somewhat heavier on science fiction than the Lovecraft collections I’ve read. I particularly liked this bit, from the story “The Planet of the Dead”:
Musing through many midnights on the attraction the star held for him, Melchior reasoned that in its narrow ray was the whole emanation of a sun and perhaps of a planetary system; that the secret of foreign worlds and even something of their history was implicit in that light, if one could only read the tale. And he longed to understand, and to know the far-woven thread of affinity which drew his attention so perennially to this particular orb.
Studying the light from distant stars is, of course, one of the ways scientists learn about their composition, and how the Hubble Space Telescope has been finding planets. As it turns out, the field of spectroscopy goes back pretty far, and presumably Smith was aware of it rather than just making wild, and surprisingly accurate, surmises about what could be done with the light of distant stars. But whether he invented the idea or had read about it, I’m still impressed at seeing, in a story published nearly 85 years ago, such a concise description of what we’re getting up to these days with our study of distant stars and systems.
Meanwhile, closer to Earth, I’m back applying the edits I scribbled down in the margins of Television Man during this latest round of editing on paper.
“Maybe the village is abandoned,” Kyle said. “Ski resort closed down, everyone moved away. We can do some urbex.”
“What?” Chuck said. “Some what?”
“Urbex. You know. Urban exploration?”
“It doesn’t get much less urban than ten miles down a dirt road in the middle of the Adirondacks,” Chuck said.
I’m still hoping this will be the last edit, but we’ll see if the story and the characters cooperate …