HyperboreaCover

Primeval worshippers bow before the great idol of Tsathoggua the Toad-God in primeval Hyperborea. (See full wrap-around cover at the end of this article.)

I’ve been waiting to announce this book for months and now I can shout it from the steaming top of Mount Voormithadreth…*

DEEPEST, DARKEST EDEN: New Tales of Hyperborea is a brand-new anthology from Miskatonic River Press, edited by the esteemed Cody Goodfellow. These 17 never-seen-before stories (and two poems) are all set in the ancient world of Hyperborea, as imagined by the great WEIRD TALES author Clark Ashton Smith. Contributors were invited to spin a yarn set in Smith’s prehistoric creation, and naturally I jumped at the chance. Smith is one of my favorite writers.

Most of Smith’s original Hyperborean tales ran in WEIRD TALES in the 1930s. They featured lost cities, haunted jungles, strange sorcery, and terrible demon-gods such as Tsathoggua and Abhoth. His entire cycle of these tales was gathered into a single volume first in 1971’s HYPERBOREA from Ballantine Books, then again in 1996 for THE BOOK OF HYPERBOREA from Necronomicon Press.

The Hyperborean cycle of tales, along with Smith’s ZOTHIQUE cycle, had a tremendous influence on my first story cycle THE REVELATIONS OF ZANG. Clark Ashton Smith wasn’t my only influence (there is also plenty of Howard, Vance, Dunsany, Lovecraft, Leiber, Schweitzer, and Lee to be found in those tales of Artifice and Taizo), but CAS’s stories always inspired me. Still do! His far-out fantasy creations, always laced with and undercurrent of cosmic horror, are told in hypnotic, lyrical prose that simply cannot be reproduced in this day and age.

The cover to the 1971 collection of Smith's Hyperborea cycle is based on the story "The Seven Geases."

The cover to the 1971 collection of Smith’s Hyperborean cycle is based on the story “The Seven Geases.” (WEIRD TALES, 1934)

Smith’s Hyperborea wasn’t wholly his own creation, but his interpretation of an ancient Greek legend. “In Greek mythology the Hyperboreans were a mythical people who lived far to the north of Thrace…Hyperborea was an unspecified region in the northern lands that lay beyond the north wind. [It] was perfect, with the sun shining twenty-four hours a day.” (Wikipedia.org)

Smith took this ancient legend and brought it to life in all the brilliant, shimmering colors of his fantastic prose. And he introduced the idea that a terrible force of evil was slowly devouring the land with ice and cold, moving inexorably southward from the northern regions.

In “The Coming of the White Worm” Smith reveals that the icy doom is being caused by the alien entity Rlim Shaikorth, a vast white worm that the Warlock Evagh tries to stop. It is a true classic of the sword-and-sorcery genre that wasn’t published until 1941, and was a sequel of sorts to his two other “icy doom” stories “The Ice Demon” (1933) and “The White Sybil” (1934). My contribution to DEEPEST, DARKEST EDEN is a story called “Daughter of the Elk Goddess,” and it was partly inspired by my re-reading of “The Ice Demon” and “The Seven Geases.”

Smith could deliver sparkling fantasy adventure in the style of Robert E. Howard, but he avoided “happy endings,” usually preferring to have his “heroes” meet with horrible deaths at the end of their stories. This placed him closer to H. P. Lovecraft on the fiction scale, and indeed he stands right between Howard and Lovecraft when people talk about the “Big Three” WEIRD TALES writers.

The Hyperborean tales are also known for their sense of grotesque irony and dark humor. I’m sure we’ll see some of that in these New Tales of Hyperborea. This is going to be one of the year’s best anthologies, so be sure you don’t miss it.

Here is the complete table of contents in order:

Nick Mamatas – “Hostage”
Joe Pulver – “To Walk Night…Alone”
Darrell Schweitzer – “In Old Commoriom”
Ann K. Schwader – “Yhoundeh Fades” (poem)
Cody Goodfellow – “Coil Of The Ouroboros”
John R. Fultz – “Daughter Of The Elk Goddess”
Brian R. Sammons – “The Darkness Below”
Dieter Meier – “The Conquest Of Rhizopium”
Lisa Morton – “Zolamin And The Mad God”
Brian Stableford – “The Lost Archetype”
Ran Cartwright – “One Last Task For Athammaus”
Don Webb – “The Beauties Of Polarion”
Robert M. Price – “The Debt Owed Abhoth”
Marc Laidlaw – “The Frigid Ilk Of Sarn Kathool”
Charles Schneider – “The Return Of The Crystal”
John Shirley – “Rodney LaSalle Has A Job Waiting
in Commoriom

Zak Jarvis – “The Winter Of Atiradarinsept “
Jesse Bullington – “The Door From Earth”
Ann K. Schwader – “Weird Of The White Sybil” (poem)

DEEPEST, DARKEST EDEN: New Tales of Hyperborea should be available in late August or early September. I’ll be sure to announce it right here as soon as it arrives.

Not only am I honored to be among such splendid company and working with such legendary material, but I simply can’t wait to read the rest of  these stories. And what an amazing cover!

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* = Mount Voormithadreth is a four-coned extinct volcano in Hyperborea. It is the tallest peak in the Eiglophian mountains and the dwelling place of various horrors including the sub-human Voormi savages, Tsathoggua the Toad-God, and Atlach-Nacha the Spider-God (to name a few).

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DEEPEST, DARKEST EDEN New Tales Of Hyperborea

Click to see the full-sized wrap-around cover in all its primordial glory!