ASIMOV'S Review: The Thirst of Satan: Poems of Fantasy and Terror By George Sterling

By Paul Di Filippo

George Sterling (1869-1926) is a poet whose name is more familiar than his actual work to modern readers of the fantastic. "The pupil of Ambrose Bierce and the mentor of Clark Ashton Smith," as editor S. T. Joshi classifies him, Sterling once had a mainstream reputation of some small notoriety. But his verse has been generally inaccessible till now, a failing remedied by the issuance of The Thirst of Satan (Hippocampus Press, trade paper, $15.00, 215 pages, ISBN 0-9721644-6-4).

Whether extracting ornate, metaphysical stanzas from cosmological vistas, as in "The Testimony of the Suns," or conducting a tour of archaic wonders as in "A Wine of Wizardry," Sterling could be counted on for startling metaphors, sardonic insights, and impeccable verse construction. This book, carefully assembled by Joshi, restores to twenty-first century readers an important missing link in the history of weird literature.