i suppose any reading of this gentleman will demand comparison to the other luminaries in the trinity of weird fiction: mister robert e. howard (a bit of a savage at heart...)& a young gentleman named howard phillip lovecraft (an old soul. an old, old soul). so let me sum it up for you, as i see it. he is a much less interesting story teller than mister howard, has much less interesting ideas than mister lovecraft, but has a superior grasp of the king's english than either. his poetry vibrates on the page, while his ideas fall sort of flat. unless he is talking about venus. he fucking loves venus.
he is also much more genuinely misogynist & racist than either of them. now, all three participate in the views of the time, that sort of "anthropology" that put white men at the top & had a sliding scale on down to gorillas, with black folks right above there. you know, i'm going to come right out & say that i don't think howard is a racist, even if you evaporate that historical line a little. he's got black people who are actual characters, & in his hyborean tales, all his ethnicities are made up, & above all, conan isn't white. there are some nasty bits, & solomon kane has some stuff to dispute this, but i would say that solomon is a racist, not howard. i think howard's "frontier living" probably broadened his horizons a lot. lovecraft, well. after he moved to new york, he certain became a racist (read the houellebecq book for more on that) but before that, he's sort of just the harmless new england recluse level racist. it is what it is. ashton smith, on the other hand, yikes. if there is a "good" black person, you can best believe he'll tell you just how european their features are. it includes women, yeah? again, howard, sure, participates in his time. but there ARE strong female characters, pirate queens & what else. lovecraft...poor guy. the whole thing is about being afraid of girls, yeah? ashton smith is much more...involved. girls are turning guys evil, yeah? they exhibit strong characters only by, you know, not fainting. the only "strong" women are mutants, genetically abberated by magic roots they eat. sure, that story puts forth a sort of sociobiological argument for sexism? which means maybe he could be fixed, if he was alive now? who can say.
like i said, though, dude fucking loves venus, & all of his best tales are set there. or a lot of them. i should be clear: i quite liked this. it was a bit of a tome, but only because the short story medium isn't my favorite. over-all, though, if you are measuring by notes scribbled, well. there were a lot of them. & like i said, the beginning of "the abominations of yondo" & similar is just grand twistings of language. quite nice. i'm pleased to have hacked through it. what is there, like two more volumes? it just makes me mad that i own such crappy lovecraft collections.