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.

Kevin McLeod

Tagged as: , ,

  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.

    I have been around much of the area near Auburn and have a good idea of this “Crater ridge” he refers to.
    Donald Sidney-Fryer on Carter Ridge:
    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?

    • Stacey C says:

      (oops. Their heads. THEIR. I’m a dolt)

    • Tim M. says:

      The karyatid thing is a good call. I meant to bring it up during the podcast but it slipped my mind.

      So, essentially, unless Smith was using the word incorrectly, the native inhabitants of the city are massive lady-bodied block-heads.

    • Mindlink says:

      “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.”

      Me too!
      It’s exactly how I tend to describe the sound of a theremin to someone who’s never heard it before. It was invented in 1928, so Smith may certainly have heard it at the time of writing.

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

    • Zimriel says:

      I don’t think there’s any question that Klar Kashton was influenced by Oriental literature, the City of Brass in this particular case.

  6. Shantell says:

    It’s hard to find your articles in google.
    I found it on 20 spot, you should build quality backlinks , it will help you to get more visitors.

    I know how to help you, just type in google – k2 seo tricks

  7. Refugia says:

    Hi admin do you need unlimited articles for your site ? What if you
    could copy content from other sites, make it
    pass copyscape test and publish on your website – i know the right tool for you, just search in google:

    Loimqua’s article tool

  8. Elton says:

    YouTube is one particular areas where people is found but still make
    a little bit of money we came across the founder of OnRamp
    Harry Poloner, and then we had several of those conversations on how to get things accredited and compensated.

  9. on page site says:

    Simkply want to say your article is as astonishing.

    The clearness ffor your submit is simply cool
    and i can suppose you are knowledgeable in this subject.
    Fine along wwith your permission let me to grasp
    your feed to keep up to date with forthhcoming post.
    Thanks oone million and please continue the enjoyable work.

  10. Zimriel says:

    Peter Scartabello has an orchestral piece out inspired by this story, on Yuggoth Records. (I’m just surprised it took the composers this long.)