Best 1932 Adventures (4)
April 8, 2017
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1932 adventure novels. Happy 85th anniversary!
Clark Ashton Smith’s Radium Age sci-fi adventure Zothique (1932-1953).
In sixteen stories, not to mention a verse play (!), all written in gorgeous, ornate prose, and all published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales, Smith depicts the dark goings-on of Zothique, a continent where the elites live in perfumed decadence, and lost kingdoms litter the deserts. Most of the story’s main characters are necromancers: indeed, the first-published Zothique story is titled “Empire of the Necromancers” (September 1932). Other memorable titles include “The Isle of the Torturers” (March 1933), “The Dark Eidolon” (January 1935), “The Tomb Spawn” (May 1934), and the Robert E. Howard-esque “The Black Abbot of Puthuum” (March 1936). So is this fantasy, as opposed to science fiction? It’s both. The Zothique stories are set in the far future, when Earth’s sun glows a dim red; Zothique — comprising what once were Asia Minor, Arabia, Persia, India, and parts of northern and eastern Africa — is the only continent extant. In fact, Smith is credited with having pioneered the Dying Earth genre of science fiction.
Fun fact: Along with H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith made the years 1933-37 a Golden Age for Weird Tales.
Let me know if I’ve missed any 1932 adventures that you particularly admire.