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Clark Ashton Smith, 1912

Clark Ashton Smith (1893-1961) was an American writer of Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction. He is most notable for being one of the founders of the Cthulhu Mythos along with H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and others.

Compared to Lovecraft's, Smith's stories tend to focus less on the Cosmic Horror Story and more on the pure exoticism of the setting. Some Mythos entities recur between them, such as the god Tsathoggua, but these entities tend to be less malevolent in Smith's portrayal than in Lovecraft's.

Also unlike Lovecraft, sexuality plays a strong role in many of Smith's works and female characters are a lot stronger and more prominent than in Lovecraft (most likely to Smith having a much more... active love life than Lovecraft). Unlike Howard, sorcerers in Smith tend to have the upper hand against swordsmen and Smith has many sorcerer protagonists, both good and evil. Unlike both Lovecraft and Howard, Smith was not a racist or a xenophobe, which can be seen best in stories like The Great God Awto and A Star-Change.

Smith was fond of playing with tropes and his stories occasionally feature Black Comedy.


Clark Ashton Smith provides examples of the following tropes:
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There were tables strewn with archaic instruments of doubtful use, with astrological charts, with skulls and alembics and crystals, with censers such as are used in the Catholic Church, and volumes bound in worm-eaten leather with verdigris-mottled clasps. In one corner stood the skeleton of a large ape; in another, a human skeleton; and overhead a stuffed crocodile was suspended.

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