Postscript: Clark Ashton Smith’s Saturn

Unlike Jupiter, Clark Ashton Smith made a number of references to Saturn in his stories.  My estimate (by no means comprehensive) is at least six of his stories mention Saturn.  Of these six stories I have read four of them, all being very enjoyable.  For this article I will be briefly reviewing two of these stories:  The Door to Saturn and The Seven Geases.  It should be noted that these stories are not as dark and grim as Smith’s tales of Mars.  Both stories are more fantasy than science fiction and have a slightly comic tone.  In fact, Smith himself called The Door to Saturn “light and ironic” (from the Double Shadow Podcast).

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In The Door to Saturn the wizard Eibon, the closest thing Clark Ashton Smith had to a re-occurring character like HPL’s Randolph Carter, is being pursued by Morghi a priest and revival of Eibon’s.  The rest of the story involves their extremely strange adventures on Saturn, whom the residents of that world call Cykranosh.

A resident of Saturn (or as known to them Cykranosh).  This is a member of the race of Bhlemphroims (Mike Bukowki, yog-blogsoth.blogspot.com)

Eibon worships one of Clark Ashton Smith’s more recognizable Old Ones in the Cthulhu Mythos – this is the sleepy bat-sloth-like God Tsathoggua.  It is Tsathoggua who gave Eibon the “door to Saturn” to use as a means of escaping enemies.  Unfortunately the escape to Saturn was a one-way trip for both Eibon and his enemy Morghi .  This is one of my favorite Smith stories.

A sketch of Tsathoggua by Clark Ashton Smith (www.eldritchdark.com)

Another great story is The Seven Geases.  This story is sort of a journey through Clark Ashton Smith’s Mythos in his Hyperborean Cycle of stories.  I won’t go into all of the strange entities encountered in the Seven Geases but it is specifically referenced that while Tsathoggua lives underground on Earth, he originally comes from Saturn.  Back on Saturn, Eibon and Morghi meet a relative of Tsathoggua’s on Cykranosh, the very strange looking Hziulquoigmnzhah.

Gods from Cykranosh by Ikura Maru.

To conclude I highly recommend both The Door to Saturn and The Seven Geases.  Both are very entertaining with most of the first story occurring on Saturn, while the other includes one of Saturn’s most popular residents – Tsathoggua.  Next time we will talk about Uranus in the Lovecraftian Solar System.  Thank you – Fred

A sculpture of Tsathoggua by Clark Ashton Smith (www.eldritchdark.com).

 

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7 thoughts on “Postscript: Clark Ashton Smith’s Saturn

  1. In the unlikely event of The Door to Saturn being filmed, I’d love to see Tommy Chong as Eibon and Cheech Marin as Morghi. They’d be great for the farcical bits of that story.

    Thought for any writers: might the Bhlemphroims have somehow made it to Earth, where they inspired Pliny the Elder’s account of the Blemmyes?

    1. Hey Phil – you are right it does sound like a Cheech and Chong road trip and Tsathoggua would definitely be their God! Also, you are right about Pliny the Elder’s account – I picked up his Natural History: A Selection (from Penguin Classics). Its a fun book to browse. HPL mentioned Pliny the Elder a number of time and I have an idea for a future article on him in the future.

      Thank you for the comments!
      Fred

  2. Wow! Its an awesome article. I definitely need to start reading Clark Ashton Smith (or, as H.P. Lovecraft called him, Klarkashton). “The Doors to Saturn” sounds AWESOME!

    I did read one story with Eibon referenced in it – “The Beast of Averoigne.” That was FANTASTIC.

    Can’t wait to see the Uranus piece. Keep up the good work, and I’m waiting for that book!

    BRIAN

    1. I have been reading more and more Clark Ashton Smith lately and really enjoy his work. I highly recommend his stories.
      Thank you for the comments!
      Fred

  3. It’s worth noting that Smith’s Saturn is a terrestrial planet with a solid surface and an exotic but essentially Earth-like landscape rather than the enormous ball of gas we know it to be. When did astronomers realize Saturn was a gas giant?

    By the way, Smith’s Bhlemphroims are clearly based upon the mythical headless humans supposed to inhabit Ethiopia in Medieval legends.

    1. In HPL’s time the gas giants were thought to be “hot and molten semi-suns” with heavy atmosphere. However, many scientist thought that deep down in the heavy atmosphere was a small rocky world. Smith’s vision of Saturn was definitely more of a romantic view of the planet rather than a scientific one.

      and Yes! Pliny The Elder (AD 23-79) in Natural History: A Selection, mentions the Blemmyae and both HPL and CAS read Pliny’s work. Thank you for the comments!
      Fred

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