Protecting Project Pulp 55: Clark Ashton Smith

Main Fiction: “Mother of Toads” by Clark Ashton Smith, first published in Weird Tales, July, 1938.

Narrator: Josie Babin.

“Why must you always hurry away, my little one?”

The voice of Mère Antoinette, the witch, was an amorous croaking. She ogled Pierre, the apothecary’s young apprentice, with eyes full-orbed and unblinking as those of a toad.

7 thoughts on “Protecting Project Pulp 55: Clark Ashton Smith”

  1. Hello Simon,
    “Mother of Toads”…… by Clark Ashton Smith…….. Yes,… well…I expected something like this when I gave the link for this story a few weeks ago. I hope there will follow more stories by this brilliant autor. Of all the writers this one is a REAL artist, His work is Literature of the Highest Level. I haven’t been commenting the last few weeks ’cause I was busy with listening to some “Aural Delight” : I found some great stories by Michael Moorcock from the Elric Saga, over at SSS. And then some, by other writers like Jack Vance (Read a lot of his works: The Demon princes, {all 5} Tschai – Planet of adventure {all 4}, The languages of Pao, The many worlds of Magnus Ridolph, The dying Earth, The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel’s saga, Rhialto the Marvellous and Planet of the damned). I still feel a whole week is to long to wait for a new story. Luckely I found more stories I like over at TTT, CCC and SSS.
    A Pulp-Story At Night And You Will Sleep Alright

    Something Else… Ever read “The Nine Princes in Amber”?
    If you haven’t please do so. For me it is one of the best stories ever writen. Anyway, all the best with my favorite PPP odd-cast. Sorry…Podcast..
    All the best from Holland/Netherlands
    Rowie .:.

  2. Hi Roland – I hope the reading was everything you’d hoped for – I thought Josie did a stellar job.

    I really enjoyed the Moorcock stuff on SSS too – in fact, I’ve owned a copy of the graphic novel adaption of “The Jewel In The Skull” since childhood… which might explain a lot about my current tastes. 🙂

    As for ‘Amber’, I haven’t had a chance to try Zelazny before, but I’ll add it to the list.

  3. Thanks PPP for this one. The poetic imagination of Klarkash-Ton have no match dealing with a dark fantasy concept. It’s the best gift for the acolytes of Smith in the context of the next August 20: the date of his dead.

    Oh yeah!!!… The dark and medieval Averoigne… A place France must be very proud of it.

  4. Hi Simon,
    Yes Josie did a great job, and it is an honour to get mentioned at PPP.
    The Jewel in the Skull, wow, that brings back memories.
    Do, try to read the first 5 books of the Amber saga, it’s as good or even better as the Elric saga.
    Like “Lord of the Rings” it stood/stands out a mile compared to other Sci-Fi and Fantasy.
    Buy, beg, steel or borrow the books, they’re a real must. Take Care and,
    Rowie .:.

  5. Interesting question, Odilius.. We ran the story as published in Weird Tales. Just so everyone understands: Smith had been clumsily edited in earlier stories, so for this story he toned down some of the sexual descriptions before submitting. Both versions are purely Smith’s work, and the edited version was not in response to explicit pressure.

    The simple answer is I didn’t know about the “uncensored” version before this. Chances are I would have run this version anyway. For better or worse, this is the version Smith decided to publish, and it is known to be in the public domain (always a consideration for us).

  6. Ok… Indeed both version just as you say are amazing… Here the short edited part:

    “This time he did not draw away but met her with hot, questing hands when she pressed heavily against him. Her limbs were cool and moist; her breasts yielded like the turf-mounds above a bog. Her body was white and wholly hairless; but here and there he found curious roughnesses… like those on the skin of a toad… that somehow sharpened his desire instead of repelling it.

    She was so huge that his fingers barely joined behind her, His two hands, together, were equal only to the cupping of a single breast. But the wine had filled his blood with a philterous ardor.

    She led him to her couch beside the hearth where a great cauldron boiled mysteriously, sending up its fumes in strange-twining coils that suggested vague and obscene figures. The couch was rude and bare. But the flesh of the sorceress was like deep, luxurious cushions…”

    Here is the unabridged version:

    And here the same story featured in the episode 107 of Hipnobobs, along with Symposium of the Gorgon:

    Thanks for the explanation PPP.

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