The Double Shadow: A Clark Ashton Smith Podcast

Episode #34: “The City of the Singing Flame”

This week, we start the Philip Hastane stories and cover “The City of the Singing Flame.” You can read the original in a flipmag viewer or in PDF. You can also check out the Eldritch Dark combined version. There is also a reading on the Eldritch Dark site, but of the combined version.

Illustration of worshippers jumping into the singing flame

Next time, we’ll be cover “Beyond the Singing Flame.”

Thanks to our reader, Joe Scalora.

Music:
Kevin McLeod

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  1. Gary Dowell says:

    I heard a great OTR version of this story a couple of years ago, and I can no longer find it. I was sure it was a Mindwebs episode, but that’s proven to be a dead end. Anyone out there know the source, or have I gone totally mad?

    • Tim M. says:

      I did a quick web and Internet Archive search for this and I can’t find anything. If you do end up tracking it down, I’d love to give it a listen.

  2. Funny all the descriptions of the California Sierra Nevada mountains; I play and camp all over that range. I am surprised that Smith did not use Devils Postpile National Monument as a point of focus. It is only a little over an hour south of Auburn. http://goo.gl/lxdHQk

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devils_Postpile_National_Monument

    I have been around much of the area near Auburn and have a good idea of this “Crater ridge” he refers to.
    http://www.eldritchdark.com/files/galleries/of-cas/hjv-9.jpg
    Donald Sidney-Fryer on Carter Ridge:
    http://www.eldritchdark.com/galleries/of-cas/all/a/3
    Great again jobs folks.

  3. This is my dad’s favorite Clark Ashton Smith story! (He’s the one whose books I read, back in the day.)

  4. Stacey C says:

    There were so many things that came up during this story that made me want to grab a friend by the shoulders and yell about. But none of my friends are interested in reading/have time to read CAS right now.
    1. Did NOBODY else immediately imagine the sound of the Singing Flame to be like that of a theremin? That’s the first and only thing I could think of as soon as I read the description. Which of course made for a hilarious mental image as I pictured all these creatures immolating themselves to the sounds of the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations.”
    2. All the creatures gathered in the temple, nodding their heads to the song of the Flame? Hipsters at a show. All hipsters. Until things got intense and then…
    3. The description of Ebbonly leaping into the Flame reminds me of the portrayal of dance in sacred context in antiquity (e.g. look at some of the dancers in Etruscan tomb paintings in Tarquinia c. 600 B.C.)
    and finally 4. The “natives” of the City of the Singing Flame, for some reason, made me think of the “Engineers” from Prometheus – only with skinny lips, no ears, and skin like ebony instead of marble. Ok, so really the only similarity is that they’re tall, bald, ripped, and they’re heads are kinda sorta square. I think it’s just because the “natives” were likened to karyatids (which is weird, because that’s the name for the female bodies that are depicted as holding up a structure in lieu of columns. Usually the male bodied versions are called Atlases), and the promethean engineers look like classical sculptures.

    So…thoughts? anyone?

  5. I wonder if Mecca may have also been on Smith’s mind as an inspiration.

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