Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Voyage to Arcturus” as Want to Read:
A Voyage to Arcturus
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book

A Voyage to Arcturus

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  2,646 ratings  ·  347 reviews
A stunning achievement in speculative fiction, A Voyage to Arcturus has inspired, enchanted, and unsettled readers for decades. It is simultaneously an epic quest across one of the most unusual and brilliantly depicted alien worlds ever conceived, a profoundly moving journey of discovery into the metaphysical heart of the universe, and a shockingly intimate excursion into ...more
Paperback, 274 pages
Published April 1st 2002 by Bison Books (first published 1920)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,646 ratings  ·  347 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Voyage to Arcturus

Apparently David Lindsay said once that he would never be famous, but that as long as our civilisation endured, at least one person a year would read him. I think he was probably right. This is not a well-written book, and there is very little character development - but it is full of amazing, larger-than-life ideas, and some of it will stick in your mind for ever. At least it has in mine, and looking at the other reviews I think a fair number of other people felt similarly. When I read Philip P
Erik Graff
Mar 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any willing to be challenged in their core beliefs
Recommended to Erik by: high school friend
Shelves: literature
This is one of the most incredibly eccentric, surprising and challenging philosophical fantasy novels ever written!

The Scottish writer David Lindsay died in 1945. He is usually regarded as a fantasy writer. While he wrote a great deal, most of his works have been hard to find, out-of-print, neglected. Voyage to Arcturus is the exception, having become a bit of a cult classic and reprinted again and again in paperback editions.

The title suggests science fiction. It is not. Arcturus is a device, a
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loses a star solely through my inability to understand what exactly transpired within and, with the passing of the years, my inability to recollect sufficiently to ponder it anew. Like everything truly excellent, it begins with a séance and an assortment of oddball characters ere the reader finds himself with the protagonist, Maskull, newly awoken upon the gravity-juiced planet of Tormance and, thus, in orbit about the plasmatic sphere known as Arcturus. It is at this point that the infamous Mag ...more
May 07, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inklings
So, I picked this book up because it is on my Inklings reading list – in other words on the list of books I’ve kept that, according to their own accounts, cultivated the imagination of the Inklings: CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, Dorothy Sayers, et all. This book especially has been noted as a primary inspiration for Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet. Now that this is out of the way…

Arcturus was published in 1920 less than a decade after Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter of
I don't think I can write properly and it may be entirely because of reading this "dizzlingly" piece of art.

I've not read anything like it before and I tend to doubt there is anything like it out there. However, like Maskull & Nightspore, I will spend my life "out there" pursuing it--whatever "it" is--hopefully I'm longer for this world. Though in this hope I sometimes falter.
"Arcturus" a pitch-perfect "something".
It is a great lumbering, spiritually forgetful romp! I believe I have heard it r
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Without the existence of this seminal work of spiritualized science fiction, C S. Lewis would not have written The Space Trilogy.
I found this wonderful anomaly to be quite startling, and highly visual. If you are attracted to these things, seek this one out.
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How I first came to learn about David Lindsay's A Voyage to Arcturus was in a strange cookbook I saw in the early 1970s written by a hippie who decided to use as the heading of each page a recommended book title. One of the books was this one, but it took me over forty years to get around to reading it. I remember liking many of the cookbook author's recommendations, and my library is full of them; and yet I cannot remember the name of the cookbook or its author. (Does anyone reading this review ...more
Charlie Fan
May 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Of the stranger books I've come across, this has to be strangest, and while the title and initial chapters suggest that this may be a work of dismissive Science Fiction / Fantasy, it is decidedly not.

Published in 1920, the book hails from a strong lineage of allegorical-journey stories. Think of the travails of Candide or better yet, of Gulliver's Travels. While the aforementioned books were of a political nature, A Voyage to Arcturus speaks about something more primal: how does one define meani
Update after 3/2/14 re-read:

I just finished this for the second time and God. DAMN. My mind has been blown. The last 5-6 pages are one jaw-dropping revelation after another, each one more magnified than the previous until the very last page when, despite maybe the best closing dialogue ever, my jaw couldn't drop any lower because it was already on the goddamned floor.

I was recently called to this, and that's really the best way to describe the feeling the book gives you: it "calls" you back even
Bryan "They call me the Doge"
I can well imagine David Lindsay's fantastic trip through the world of Tormance being rather polarizing to a lot of readers. It is not a plot-driven book, in that if one reads looking for cause and effect, action and reaction, it will probably be a disappointment. Lindsay's style is odd too: characters with names like Maskull and Nightspore, and elliptical conversations that never seem to impart any kind of information, even when directly solicited. For most of the book, I ended up feeling as th ...more
Jul 19, 2012 rated it liked it
This is going to be one of those books that is really hard to talk about. Not because I'm worried about giving away spoilers, but rather because I'm not sure how much I understand it.

It starts well. A group with a common interest in witnessing the supernatural come together to observe a "summoning", that goes well until interrupted by a rude stranger. One of these observers (Maskull) is then invited by the stranger to visit Arcturus, a planet in a distant binary star system. Unbelieving at first
William Oarlock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 01, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I'm so happy to finally get a copy of this gorgeous Savoy edition of this confounding book! I read this a few years ago with mixed reactions, and I just know I didn't give it a proper chance (I read it in little bits and pieces, often interrupted, while I was supposed to be working - not a very conducive atmosphere for tackling a book with so much substance!) I look forward to encountering it again properly with this luxurious, definitive edition.
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-library, fantasy
Where to even begin with this book… A journey to a far distant world in search of adventure, some sort of meaning not found anymore on our world. It is a spiritual journey, an emotional journey through a strange land inhabited by wise men, surreal creatures all living, feeling under the glare of two suns. There is a definitive otherworldliness over the novel, not only in its setting, but Lindsay’s use of proper names, and prose throughout it bordering at times on being overwhelming. Beneath the ...more
Michael Adams
This book is the most meaningful thing to ever happen to me. If anyone knows of other books similar to it, please
Let me know
Apr 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am really enamoured with "weird" or fantastic fiction from the early 20th century. I'd been hearing much about this elusive, mysterious book for quite some time, and noted with considerable pleasure that opinions on the book were completely polarised. It seemed that readers either loved this book or could barely stand to finish it. So I went and read it, and let me say for starters that this book was an experience I'll never forget. In fact, I've begun it a second time, reading aloud, to pick ...more
Nick Tramdack
May 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sort of wearying, but the final payoff is worth the effort. Pseudo-gnostic secrets make for a planetary romance that's hard to outguess in this classic of Scottish SF in the dark tradition of James Hogg.

-107: "The storm gathered. The green snow drove against them, as they stood talking, and it grew intensely cold. None noticed it."
-110: "They hate pleasure, and thus hatred is the greatest pleasure to them." [about Sant - is this Krag's doctrine? I forget...]
-134: cool use of the word "apercu"
“This. Book. Is. Weird!”

I found myself saying this after every time I would set it down.

I don’t know what genre this book is. I look at it like Maskull viewed Leehallfae. What genre is it? It has planets, space travel, etc. so certainly elements of sci-fi are in it. Fantasy? Yup, it has some of that also! However, the genre that really rings true here is philosophy. But is it though? Maybe Mysticism? I honestly don’t know…. Just mark it as philosophy, mysticism, sci-fi, or fantasy because it w
Printable Tire
Mar 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Voyage to Arturas begins like high-pulp fantasy, a la Burrough's Princess of Mars or Poe's Narrative of Pym... characters are introduced, with no effort spent on relating who they are, or why they are... they merely appear, and are shortly transported to another world. And Tormance is a luscious world, at first appearing like the world of Avatar, but quickly becoming an acid trip of the highest order, a world in which our hero Maskull encounters strange people and stranger places one after the o ...more
Graham Worthington
Mar 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Little known by other than connoisseurs of the strange and mysterious, this odyssey of the questing human spirit is well worth the patience it takes to cope with the opening chapters, which lumber considerably as the author prepares us for the meat of the story. But once our characters reach Tormance - a planet circling the star Arcturus - the adventure begins in earnest, in a world where the spiritual takes physical form, and our hero Maskull battles a zoo of tempters and diverse philosophies a ...more
Jesse Kraai
Oct 21, 2014 rated it did not like it
"I can't believe you're going to force yourself to finish that book."
- "Life is a struggle."
"You're going to rip it up and give Manny Rayner paper cuts until he dies."

So I stopped. I really did try. Not only did Manny mention it in his review of my book, Lisa: A Chess Novel but I'm giving science fiction the old college try. Hoyle's The Black Cloud is next.

Arcturus is everything I feared sci-fi would be.
Dec 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
Really loved this for the first quarter of the book. Thought it was great- wicked weird- which is always good. Unfortunately, the well-written weirdness could not make up for the lack of action in the plot. The antiquated views, especially concerning women, really started to bug me. Eventually I got to the point where I couldn't be bothered with this story anymore. The only reason I gave it two stars was because it had some great ideas character/setting wise.
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
“You may be sure that a question which requires music for an answer can’t be put into words.” I’ll always take a book that aims high and this does. It is a book of peaks and valleys. 5 star and 1 star moments, making my rating irrelevant.
The undercurrent of Calvinist rejection of pleasure disagrees with me. My journey leads me to currently feel that the challenge of enjoying pleasure in moderation is significant. It is a challenge, not a trap. It is a unity not a duality. This epic grapple betw
Sep 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: status-owned
Swept from Victorian England to a distant planet, everyman Maskull begins an epic journey of discovery through that alien environment towards its metamorphic gods. A third of the way into his journey, Maskull encounters a violently sexual woman, murders her husband, demands her obedience, and then has her sing a song while they travel. Its "words were pure nonsense—or else their significance was too deep for him" (113). The same can well be said of this entire book. A Voyage to Arcturus is a fev ...more
Julie Davis
Listening to the LibriVox audio by Mark Nelson. I have known for some time that this book was a big influence on C.S. Lewis's space trilogy and, now that I've read all of those, am finally getting around to this one.

I can see the resemblances already but am intrigued by the story. And, of course, it's fun reading a book that someone else I "know" enjoyed so much.


I am not actually finished but having read about a third of this book I feel I've gotten what I wanted from it. The st
DeAnna Knippling
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A man takes an interstellar journey to discover truths of the spirit. These are not the kind of spiritual truths that are liable to make anybody happy. Somewhere between The Wizard of Oz and HP Lovecraft.

A unique book, but not an enjoyably written one. It explains a lot, though--from Elric to Gene Wolfe to Clive Barker and more. I thought I understood what gnosticism was about, and that it was no longer a Thing. Nope. I understood almost nothing, and it's still a Thing. See the Supernatural TV s
Tim Pendry

Let us get one thing out of the way straight away. This, despite excitable claims to the contrary, is not a science fiction novel. Although it has influenced the genre, its only science fiction element is a single flight by a crystal rocket to an alien planet from a derelict observatory.

It is, in fact, a spiritual or philosophical fantasy of staggering obscurity but also of great imagination, a prose poem that is very much of its era - 1920, after Nietzche and before Olaf Stapledon.

David Lindsa
I am not sure what to make of this classic science fiction novel - it was more a philosophical metaphor than the space travel adventure story that I had hoped for. I don't think that I understood what Lindsay was trying to say.

The final two chapters in particular confused me with (view spoiler)
Paperback Junky
Sep 15, 2018 rated it liked it
it was like the author took me on a date, we went back to his place, he asked my consent to have sex, I said okay, then he did a BUNCH of things I was uncomfortable with, but for some reason, I stayed quiet and just let him do it. Then I left, feeling dirty and ashamed and not knowing why or what I did wrong.
Michael Sorbello
Oct 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I really enjoyed the first half of the book. Maskull and Nightspore, a pair of gentleman with an interest in supernatural entities and occurences gather at a seance to witness the summoning of something paranormal. After the apparition is summoned, the gentleman are eager to see more and they are confronted by a mysterious stranger named Krag who promises to show them where the apparition came from.

Krag invites Maskull and Nightspore to journey with him to the bizarre planet orbiting Arcturus c
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Please add book cover for A Voyage to Arcturus 3 14 Apr 05, 2019 08:05AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please correct page count for A VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS 1 10 Apr 04, 2019 07:28AM  
The Evolution of ...: December Group Read: A Voyage to Arcturus 9 51 Sep 26, 2018 04:32PM  
New Edition Marketing Research 1 5 Feb 05, 2016 05:46AM  
Emotional impact of literarure 3 16 Oct 19, 2014 10:31AM  
Fantasy at its fullest 8 40 Nov 25, 2013 05:03PM  
Pre-Tolkien Fantasy : Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay 3 43 Nov 09, 2012 07:29AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Behold the Man
  • The Amphibian
  • The Worm Ouroboros
  • Lilith
  • This Immortal
  • A Martian Odyssey
  • The Girl Who Was Plugged In
  • Hard to Be a God
  • Jurgen  (The Biography of Manuel, #7)
  • The Invincible
  • Lud-in-the-Mist
  • The Circus of Dr. Lao
  • Fifty-One Tales
  • The Wood Beyond the World
  • The King of Elfland's Daughter
  • Definitely Maybe
  • The Demolished Man
  • City at World's End
See similar books…
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

David Lindsay was a Scottish author now most famous for the philosophical science fiction novel A Voyage to Arcturus.

Lindsay was born into a middle-class Scottish Calvinist family who had moved to London, tho growing up he spent much time in Jedburgh, where his family was from. Altho awarded a university scho

Related Articles

Myths and mayhem, the fantastical and the scientifically plausible, these are readers’ most popular sci-fi and fantasy novels published in the ...
135 likes · 28 comments
“You may be sure that a question which requires music for an answer can't be put into words. ” 12 likes
“Can the memory of love be worth more than its presence and reality?” 6 likes
More quotes…