the Violet
A Voyage to Arcturus

"I am the stronger and the mightier. Crystalman's Empire is but a shadow on the face of Muspel. But nothing will be done without the bloodiest of blows..."

— Krag, A Voyage to Arcturus, ch. XXI, "Muspel"

Originally titled Nightspore in Tormance, Lindsay's most famous novel was begun after a long gestation period, and finished in March 1920. It was issued later that year by Methuen, in the UK, the first publisher to whom it was offered. (The first US edition was in 1963, from Macmillan.) It sold only 596 copies of its initial print run of 1430.

Times ad
Ad from The Times announcing A Voyage to Arcturus, 17th September 1920

After a visit to a séance, Maskull and his dour companion Nightspore are invited to journey to the satellite planet of the binary star Arcturus by a stranger called Krag. Seperated from his companions on their arrival, Maskull, who finds himself to have sprouted new sensory organs, learns that Krag is thought of as the Devil of this world. However, he soon learns that the "God", called Crystalman, is not all he seems either...

More detailed plot summary here.


See the Voyage to Arcturus editions page for a list.

See the Voyage to Arcturus gallery page for cover artwork, and the Heyne 1986 edition illustrations gallery for some interior illustrations.

You can read reviews of the best (Savoy Books) and worst (Bison Press) editions of A Voyage To Arcturus.

Adaptations & works inspired by A Voyage to Arcturus

1920s/30s? — An illustration to chapter IX, by Hugh Deane.

1956 — The BBC Third Programme radio adaptation.

1971 — William Holloway's full-length film adaptation.

1982 — Voyage to Arcturus instrumental by Rod Wallace. Released as a picture disc, catalogue number PPC 126.

1983 — Arcturus, an opera by Paul Corfield Godfrey, with libretto by Richard Clive Rose. It was first performed by the New Celtic Opera at the Sherman Theatre Cardiff on July 15th. See this page for information, including the full libretto and an audio sample. See also that site's home page for an interview with Godfrey, in which he says he was not happy with the production.

1984 — John Ogdon's unfinished opera based on A Voyage to Arcturus.

1986 — The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble put on an adaptation of A Voyage to Arcturus. Adapted by David Wolpe, directed by Ron Sossi. You can read an LA Times review of the production here.

1996 — Henry Kaiser's album The Seance.

2001 — Ron Thomas's CD Scenes From A Voyage To Arcturus.

2006 — Tunnel diner, an album by Steve Mackay and the Radon Ensemble, contains a track called "Voyage to Arcturus".

2009 — Rafi Metz's audio reading of Arcturus.

2010 — David Kanaga's Scenes from Arcturus, four short electronic pieces of music.

2011 — Mark Nelson's audiobook of Arcturus at LibriVox.

2012 — German electronic duo Tarwater release a track called Voyage to Arcturus for Record Store Day. Catalogue number BB107, Bureau B records.

       — Matterplay by David Power, included in his Six Electronic Pieces suite, from the Vestiges CD. Can be heard via Power's Soundcloud page.

       — Voyage to Arcturus by German electronic artist Chris Zippel is one of the tracks on the compilation Ibiza Sundowner presented by José Padilla.

2014 — Electronic/ambient album, Voyage to Arcturus: The Live Album by Andrulian, available from Bandcamp.

       — A Voyage to Arcturus, an 'installation exploring the affinities between film, installation, language and sound' from Two Ruins (Steve Hollingsworth and Jim Colquhoun). Video here, at (11 minutes, 49 seconds).

2015 — A Voyage to Arcturus album by Vakula.

       — A Voyage To Arcturus/Out of the Silent Planet (via the Northside), album album from Akashic Fish. (Can be heard at their Bandcamp page.)


What's it all about? — Critics' attempts to sum up the book in one line.

Four Approaches to A Voyage to Arcturus — Is Lindsay's book philosophy or vision? Asking this question (or assuming the answer to it) is the first step most critics of A Voyage to Arcturus take. Here is an exploration of some of the answers they've given.

Comparisons — Although one of the most original works of fantasy fiction, there have inevitably been comparisons between Arcturus and other works.

Arcturan names — A look at the bizarre names Lindsay uses throughout his book.

© Murray Ewing 2015