'Poseidonis' - Editors Note

Lin Carter

Perhaps the most precious document to be unearthed among Smith's papers after his death was his log of completed stories. Each entry is accompanied by the dates of original completion and of revision, if any. Thus we know that the very earliest of Smith's Atlantis tales was "The Last Incantation," which he completed on September 23, 1929. As it happens, this was his second short story, the first being the extended prose-poem, "Sadastor," which I reprinted in the collection Xiccarph in 1972.

Weird Tales accepted the story and published it the following year, in the June 1930 issue. Before very long, Smith followed this tale with another Atlantean adventure — the log shows that on July 17, 1930, he completed the second story, "A Voyage to Sfanomoe", his twenty-fourth tale, which Wright included in his August 1931 issue. We jack precise dates for the composition of the third tale in the cycle, "A Vintage from Atlantis", but it is listed as his fifty-fifth story and was most likely written in 1931.

"The Double Shadow" can be dated to March 14, 1932, and is listed as his sixty-third short story. The original version of "The Double Shadow," which is reprinted here, is different in some ways from the version that eventually appeared in the February 1939 issue of Weird Tales. The most important variation is that the text published by Wright omits the whole of the fourth paragraph, which, you will notice, links the story firmly to the sequence concerning Malygris the magician. Smith published his original version of the tale in his first collection of short stories, a privately printed pamphlet entitled The Double Shadow and Other Fantasies, which was published at Aubum, California, in 1933, some nine years before his first Arkham House collection. Out of Space and Time. I have taken the text of 'The Double Shadow' directly from this first pamphlet appearance of the story.

The last of the Atlantis tales, "The Death of Malygris," was Smith's eighty-ninth story. Again we lack a precise date, but it was written sometime in 1933, perhaps in June or July. As I have already mentioned in the introduction, in his list of this series in the "Black Book," Smith left blank lines numbered 6 and 7, which strongly suggests that he intended someday to write two more tales of Atlantis. But not long after this, sometime in 1934 or early 1,935, he practically stopped writing short stories altogether; although he lived another twenty-six years, dying in 1961, he produced only a dozen or so short stories in that quarter-century.

The stories were neither written, nor published in the order in which I have assembled them. The Atlantis cycle is a fragmentary series at best, and the exact sequence of the tales is of little importance, but I should like to explain my rationale for the sequence used here. Rather importantly, it differs from Smith's own sequence, as given on page eleven of the "Black Book," in that Smith himself felt "The Double Shadow" came between "The Last Incantation" and "The Death of Malygris." But this seems to contradict the internal evidence of the stories themselves. On this point I have consulted Smith's bibliographer, Tom Cockroft of New Zealand, and we both agree that "The.Double Shadow" — in its original version — certainly belongs after the two stories about Malygris. And the order into which the two remaining stories fall is quite obvious.

From: Poseidonis (Tales of Atlantis). Ballantine Books 1973

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