The Double Shadow: A Clark Ashton Smith Podcast

Episode #3: “A Rendezvous in Averoigne”

A transcription of this episode is available.

This week covers “A Rendezvous in Averoigne,” the second story in Clark Ashton Smith’s Averoigne Cycle. Rendezvous was first published in the April/May 1931 issue of Weird Tales, alongside Robert E. Howard’s “The Children of the Night” and H.P. Lovecraft’s poem “Alienation” (#32 from Fungi from Yuggoth).

The Ray Bradbury quote was from the intro to Arkham House’s 1988 collection A Rendezvous in Averoigne: The Best Fantastic Tales of Clark Ashton Smith. The title is a trifle misleading, as this contains stories from throughout Smith’s career, not just his Averoigne works (nor all of them).

The film The Fearless Vampire Killers was released in 1967 and was written by and co-stars a young Roman Polanski.

And shout out to the Podcast to the Curious, about the works of M.R. James. We’re fans of more than their accents.

Join us again on May 30th as we read “The Maker of Gargoyles.”

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Music by: Kevin MacLeod

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  1. Hradkuzyk says:

    Great podcast so far! And great commentary and interpretations of the stories. Looking forward to more.

  2. Yojimbo says:

    You guys are clearly having fun – enjoyed this one as much as the first, and looking forward to more.

    But I think you were a little harsh on ol’ Clark here what with the plot holes and contrivances and such. “Rendezvous” is clearly written in the style of a fairy-tale, and it follows fairy-tale logic (perhaps to its detriment). There’s nothing here that would be out-of-place in a Grimm’s collection.

  3. Eibon III says:

    The point about the staff is that it’s made of a wood which has innate magical properties (hornbeam is associated with protection, stamina and strength and is used in banishing spells). As such the vampires cannot take the staff, much as they could not touch a cross. So they try to persuade him to leave it but without drawing attention to it, but they cannot take it by force from him.

  4. Lcthulou says:

    You came so close, but I’m surprised no one mentioned the cllassic D&D; Module “Castle Amber,” based on CAS’s Averoigne stories, especially this one.

    • Ruth says:

      We’ve got a copy of Castle Amber and have been reading up on it but hadn’t yet gotten around to discussing it in the show. I’m trying to remember now if we discussed it on the show in the second part of Colossus (which goes up Weds) or whether we talked about it after the mics were off.

  5. GB Steve says:

    Pourboire means a tip or gratuity. Could our hero be Gerard of the Fall, given that he is lured into a trap and he certainly prideful at the start. “Ancienter” is a very clumsy expression and “incomputable ages” is straight out of Lovecraft.

    Malinbois is Wood following Malin which is crafty or even the Crafty One, i.e the Devil. So Devil’s Wood in English.

    I think the railroad issue marks an essential difference between fiction and gaming. In gaming it removes the authorship of the players but there’s nothing wrong with it in fiction, it’s even a very common Gothic trope.

    Agathe is Ah-Gat, the final ‘e’ is usually silent in French.

    The scene is a bit clumsy but you have to remember that this is an early version of the fantasy vampire genre. The whole scene seems very inspired by Poe, in a Masque of Red Death kind of way. But yeah, it’s not a very good story.

  6. GB Steve says:

    Donjon is a keep which means that D&D in French is Donjons et Dragons, an opposite to the English meaning.

  7. The Count says:

    Yojimbo is right, i guess. This story has all the likeable naivity of a medieval folk tale. The Clever Peasant at times outsmarts the devil with much more simple tricks.
    I like that story, more than the first one. Maybe because I had to picture it all in the style of that 1950is Robin Hood Movie. Nor all I see is GREEN!
    For some reason I didn `t get any of those role play jokes. Sometimes I feel sooo old…

  8. Yogge Sothothe says:

    Greetings from Sweden.

    Just started listening, great stuff. I hope you keep it up, because I intend to read along with you. I’ve only read one or two Clark Ashton Smith stories before this, and those were more in the mythos style, but I like what I have encountered thus far.

    Regarding the story at hand, I liked the language, the mood and the description of the castle, but like you guys I found the narrative lacking. The End of the Story was much better in this respect, and considering all the little odd inconsistent details I get the impression that he hurried through the second part of this one. It’s really a shame, because the beginning bodes so well.

  9. asotir says:

    I would add that later when Gerard sharpens the staff he adds the outline of a cross to it, providing further protection.

    Another thought: the vampires like cats love to play with their victims. They feel so superior to them.

    Totally agree that the end seems too too easy for our hero.

    Love the podcast — I always wanted to read CAS and now I have a great reason to do so!