Wandering alone on Tormance, the one inhabited planet of the star Arcturus, the hero of this remarkable story cries: “I must make up my mind that this is a strange journey, and that the strangest things will happen in it.”
And the strangest things do happen in a book that is at once an engrossing science-fiction novel and a profound metaphysical fable. Now published in the United States for the first time, A Voyage to Arcturus richly deserves its reputation as a work of genius.
Maskull, the hero, is transported to the Arcturun planet where a series of mysterious adventures causes him to undergo countless physical transformations. The people he meets—some frightening, some spiritually beautiful—are like none on earth, and their behavior is like that of no mortal Maskull has ever known. On this level, A Voyage to Arcturus is a fascinating science-fiction story.
Gradually, however, the reader becomes aware of a second, deeper level. It would appear that Maskull’s journey is actually the journey of the human soul, caught in a death struggle between good and evil. The recurring figure Crystalman is really the Devil, engaged in a perpetual battle with Muspel, the Deity who is “fighting for his life against all that is most shameful and frightful.” The prize of victory is the soul itself, and Maskull’s fantastic experiences are those of every man beset by the perils of existence as this battle rages about him.
As an adventure, A Voyage to Arcturus is enthralling. As a metaphysical puzzle, it offers a challenge to every thoughtful reader.
This edition includes an introduction by the distinguished anthropologist Loren Eiseley, author of The Immense Journey, the story of man’s evolutionary journey through time. Dr. Eiseley discusses the literary merits of A Voyage to Arcturus and the metaphysical concepts on which it is based.
DAVID LINDSAY (1876–1945), the English author, had been making notes for A Voyage to Arcturus for ten years before it was finally written. His other books include The Haunted Woman, Sphinx, and Devil’s Tor.