A Deeply Hallucinogenic Novel

Fred looks at David Lindsay's A Voyage to Arcturus

While I've classed it as Science Fiction, it is essentially unclassifiable. Think magic realism on steroids without any realism.  A truly genre-bending essentially odd genre classic.


  1. Steven,

    Thanks for the comments. I'm glad you mentioned magic realism. I brought that up at the group discussion and got nowhere with that observation. I was beginning to wonder if I was over-reading, which I tend to do at times.

    I refer to it as SF/F simply because that's where someone would be most likely to find it on the shelves.

  2. Fred,

    Agreed in the classification and also, if I read you aright, in the hesitation over that classification. It really is unclassifiable.


  3. Steven,

    You read me right. I wanted to discuss the book with somebody, so I selected the SF/F since it is labeled as such.

    Speculative fiction?

  4. Steven,

    Forgot to mention. I like your title: "A Deeply Hallucinogenic Novel."

  5. Dear Fred,

    As I said, I have no problem with the traditional label because it gives us a handle, but as you noted in your review and any reader who glances at it will note it seems to defy any real attempt at categorization. Is it really speculative fiction? Well, that doesn't seem to be at the heart of Lindsay's purpose in writing it. And that's the problem--whatever you call it, the book seems to defy it.

    I called it hallucinogenic because it is for me the literary equivalent of an acid trip--at least as I've heard about them. (Let's just say that it's the closest I'll ever get to finding out.) So there's no implied critique, and booksellers have been filing it the the SF/F for decades, so I guess that's where it goes.

    I have the same unease about most of Olaf Stapledon's books as well.



  6. Steven,

    Yes, Stapledon's another one of those writers who doesn't fit easily into the traditional categories.

    Like Lindsay, he's put in the SF category, I suspect, because those elements are noticeable and solve the classifiers' problem.

    It's a shame because both find it hard to get a readership outside of the genre ghetto.


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