Somehow in the course of my obsession with macabre, esoteric, fantasy and science fiction writing I missed out on reading Clark Ashton Smith until very recently. Smith gained fame through publication in Weird Tales, just as did his contemporaries H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard and other great authors. Unlike the other two most famous authors from the pulp magazine, however, Smith has remained undersung and underappreciated by mainstream fantasy enthusiasts.
I just finished Zothique, a collection of stories set in Earth's distant future where the only continent bears that name. It blew me away. Smith had a phenomenal grasp on phantasmagoria and dark, occult themes. Never since reading Lovecraft as a teenager have I been so impressed with an author in that genre. The collection comes highly recommended to anyone who has a fondness for Gothic and horror literature. You won't be disappointed, except by the fact that Smith stopped writing long before his death and could have given the world so much more to read.