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The Emperor Of Dreams: Best Fantasy Tales (FANTASY MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 14 Mar 2002

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (14 Mar. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057507373X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575073739
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 3.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

The Emperor of Dreams is an intelligently put together collection of the short stories of Clark Ashton Smith, one of the most interesting of the group of fantasy writers who congregated around the magazine Weird Tales in the 1930s. Like his correspondent and friend Lovecraft, Smith was hugely influenced by the fantasies and horror stories of Lord Dunsany, from whom he learned to make dream landscapes seem coherent and to pepper his stories with whimsically polysyllabic names like Thasaidon and Moriggian. Smith's fiction is as ironic as Dunsany's, but distinctly more pessimistic; characters he likes, on the whole, are likely to die only slightly less horribly than the covetous or callous. These are stories whose human characters live on the sufferance of more powerful entities whom they are perpetually offending, almost without meaning to. The mundane world whose jewels and scents and bright flowers Smith portrays, in a prose that frequently heads off in the direction of the purple, is a thin skin over realms of vertiginous emptiness and nightmare. These are stories with a tremendous influence on the fantasy-fiction that followed them--they are an acquired taste which many love passionately. --Roz Kaveney

Book Description

The definitive collection of fantasy stories by one of the genre¿s most influential writers

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Customer Reviews

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It must have been wonderful to have been alive in the heyday of the pulp magazine, "Weird Tales". Can you imagine going to the newsagents once a month to buy a magazine which contained all-new stories by H P Lovecraft, Robert E Howard, Seabury Quinn and Frank Belknap Long? In his very useful Afterword to this latest (No 26) Fantasy Masterworks volume, Stephen Jones tells us that the "big three" authors to appear in Weird Tales were Lovecraft (understandably), Howard (of course), and Clark Ashton Smith (who?). Apart from a couple of slim paperback collections issued in the mid-seventies, Smith's work has been lamentably out of print in this country, and his homeland across the pond has given his books little better treatment.
So listen carefully as I tell you this. Smith's work is literally fantastic. If you have any interest in, or love for, the kind of fantasy that the above-mentioned authors used to write, then you must read this collection of 46 Ashton Smith stories. Even if you feel that you've read enough Lovecraft rip-offs to last you several lifetimes you still need to read this. What makes him worth reading?. Well, he was originally a poet. Now keep reading because I know some of you will have stopped at the mention of the 'p' word. But the descriptive passages in Smith's work are superb examples of decadent, twisted prose. His vampire's castles, fog-wreathed swamps, other-worldly dimensions and tales of the 'Book of Eibon' come alive on the page in ways that many of his contemporaries could never have hoped to aspire to. The writer I can most liken him to is Lord Dunsany (Masterworks 2 & 15). But whereas Dunsany had a predilection for pixies and elves, and heavenly kingdoms, Smith brings you all manner of decaying corpses and hideous other worlds.
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I just wish it included some of his illustrations! If you have never read Clark Ashton Smith, this book will introduce you to one of the most amazing writers of the past century. Or of the current one, for that matter. He used words the way that Michelangelo used paint and marble; his prose is three-dimensional, and in the hands of anyone else it probably wouldn't work, would seem overblown and even silly. But Smith was truly a master, and his prose is simply gorgeous. Yes, the stories are all very good, and others have spoken of their content so I won't go on about that. I love the stories, the mythos, the fantasies, but even more I just love reading the very sentences and phrases penned by this wizard. It is a true pity that just because Smith wrote genre he is not considered to be a writer of literature.
I would very highly recommend this book both for the wonderfulness of the tales it contains and the great joy of reading some of the most beautifully executed prose ever written. Also, the book contains a short bio of Smith, which is quite interesting.
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Clark Ashton Smith is a writer whose work I've enjoyed for a few years now. I picked up this new collection as it contained several stories I hadn't read yet. I must say that the choices are excellent. Smith's wonderful, exotic tales of Zothique, Averoigne, Poseidonis, and Hyperborea are well represented, and his unusual stories set in the present-day (well, his present-day, the 1930's), are all well worth the read. Smith was also a poet, and his prose has a richness of language that makes it a pleasure to read. He is one of the most imaginative authors I have ever read. Highlights of this collection are "The Empire of the Necromancers", "Necromancy in Naat", "The Nameless Offspring", and "The Tale of Satambra Zeiros". In my opinion though, they are all great. This book gets a definite "thumbs up" from me. It's a good introduction for new fans and I think many familiar with his work will find some stories here new to them. A real plus is Stephen Jones' detailed, informative Afterword. Buy it and help keep Clark Ashton Smith in print!
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By A Customer on 7 Mar. 2006
Although never as popular as his friends Lovecraft and Howard, Smith
managed to carve his own niche in fantasy fiction.This is the first
publication of his stories in almost a decade, and fantasy euthusiasts should jump at the chance to read his unique work.
Smith mixed horror stories set in the mundane world with fantasies set in imaginary realms as remote as possible from that world.
Of the former stories, "The Gorgon","The Seed From The Speculcher" and the "Hunters from Beyond" are the best, clever depictions of hostile cosmic forces attacking foolish curious humans.
The fantasy stories are set in locations, as critic Brian Stableford has observed, in worlds as remote as possible from the real world. This enables Smith to weave baroque tales which usually have a horrific or tragic conclusion. Some of them,such as
"The Seven Geases" or "The Dark Eidolon" feature more "Outre" elements than the average novel. Even a minor tale like the "Abominations of Yondo" is rendered fascinating by elements such as meteoric mountains and shadow-demons.
There are a few flaws. Smith sometimes goes overboard on the weird names. The stories he wrote in the 1950s are unmemorable. The Zothique stories sometimes have nasty racist stereotyping ("Negro cannibals" or the "Fu Manchu" Asians of "The Isle of the Torturers").
Despite this, the collection is largely superb. It is concluded with a superb biography of CAS by Stephen Jones. Recommended.
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