Monday, January 25, 2016
Voyage to Arcturus
It doesn't get much more Vintage SF than this--Lindsay published this weird novel in 1920. It made a splash at the time; lots of people like Tolkien thought it was great stuff, and it was a large influence on C. S. Lewis, who was inspired to write his Space Trilogy.
Maskull is looking for adventure, and he teams up with two shady characters--Krag and Nightspore--who promise to take him to a different planet. He ends up alone on Tormance, a planet orbiting the double star of Arcturus.* He finds that he has grown some new organs on his neck, forehead, and chest, and these change throughout the story. Maskull travels over Tormance, meeting one or two new people in every area. Each new land is the expression of a philosophy, such as stoicism or Nietzschean will to power or pacifism. Maskull disrupts most of these places; despite his intentions to purify himself inspired by the peaceful people he first meets, he kills several people, and others just happen to die. All the time, Maskull is trying to figure out who made Tormance--really he's trying to find God but there are a few candidates. Finally, he ascends a tower and sees Reality, which is some sort of Demiurge/Gnostic thing I didn't really get. It's all very confusing.
*Arcturus is not, in fact, a double star. But in this story it is.