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“The Dead Will Cuckold You”

January 16, 2012

James Maliszewski of Grognardia recently urged his legion of followers to mark the 119th anniversary of the birth of Clark Ashton Smith by reading a story by the master fantasist. A laudable exhortation!

As I commented, much as I like HPL and REH, these days I find Smith the most purely enjoyable of the “big three” Weird Tales authors. Like Lord Dunsany (shortly) before him and Jack Vance after, not only was he a brilliant prose stylist but he also displayed a sense of humour (of the heavily ironic variety) that leavens the sumptuous and decadent darkness of his best stories. A fine example is “The Tale of Satampra Zeiros” – which should be of particular interest to role-playing gamers, concerning as it does an ill-starred expedition (conceived in splendidly described drunkenness) by two treasure-seekers to an ostensibly abandoned Hyperborean temple. I recommend it unreservedly.

A friend (who also played an unfortunate character in my current D&D game) texted me a few weeks ago to say that he was reading a play by Smith entitled “The Dead Will Cuckold You”. Now, titles simply do not get better than that. I sought it out immediately. If you’ve never read Smith before, this is not the place to begin, but if you have read and enjoyed his stories and poems then this little drama set in Zothique is a delight. Be warned, though: the ending is most odd, even by Smithian standards.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2012 3:20 am

    Thanks for the suggestion. I’ve been “meaning to read” some C.A. Smith, and finally sat down and read “The Tale of Satampra Zeiros.” I love it, and can’t believe it took me this long to get around to reading his work. Thanks again!

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  1. Shadufs, prodigal sons, cuckolds and other anachronisms | Karavansara

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