Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, October 7, 2021


 Despite the sluggishness of the past few weeks I managed to read two very interesting books.  (Well. it is a stretch to call the second one a book.)

The Ship That Sailed to Mars by William M. Timlin (1924)

An interesting mash-up of fairy tale and science fiction noted for being that rarest of things...a beautiful book and a masterpiece of wit and imagination.

From Donald H. Tuck's Encyclopedia of Sciencc Fiction and Fantasy:

"A sort of fairy tale set on Mars.  This is generally recognized as the most beautiful and valuable fantasy books ever published.  It is 12 in.high and 2 in thick, bound in half vellum; the text is adorned with beautiful hand lettering; there are 49 [actually 48 -- JH] full-colour illustrations each separately mounted on matte paper."

Harrap of London printed only 2000 copies of the book, 200 of which were sold in the U.S. by Stokes (New York) at $12.00.  (That's $12.00 in 1924 prices.)

Timlin (1892-1943) was an English architect and illustrator who moved to South Africa in 1912.  The Ship That Sailed to Mars tookTimlin two years to produce.  The 96 pages included 48 pages of calligraphied text and 48 pages of detailed water color paintings.  The publisher decided to go with Timlin's hand lettering rather than transposing it into print.

The book begins:

"Although it was difficult to believe, the Old Man had not always been old, and in his dim, forgotten youth, he said "I will go to Mars; sailing by way of the moon, and the more friendly planets."  But those around him, Scientists, and Astronomers some cried out in scorn, "Have we not ever taught you that Mars is thirty thousand miles away, and nothing could ever live on a journey there?"  And they left him, muttering in their beards as they went, for they had no faith, nor any belief, in Fairies."

Yep.  Fairies.  The Old Man recruits them to build his sailing ship.  Not just any Fairies, but those with cunning skill and craftsmanship.  It took a long while and the ships they first built not would not fly, but eventually they succeeded with the help of a friendly gnome, ss well as the Elf King's favorite metal worker, two or three old crones, and Pan,  So many helped in the building of the ship that a lottery was drawn to see who could accompany the Old Man on the trip.  Because everyone chosen was very fond of milk, a cow was stolen and placed on a large field of grass (also purloined) to be tied to the rear of the ship and towed.  The farmer whose cow and field it was eventually was forced to the extreme measure of Writing to the Newspaper.

The journey was frought with peril and danger and -- it must be admitted -- a basic misunderstanding of space, of astronomy. and of distance.  Shudder if you will as the Old Man and his crew meet The Monsters. The Gift, The Sorrowful Planet, The Seven Sisters, The Meteor, The Eden Serpent, The Air Sprite, The Pirates Planet, and The Star fo the Classic Myths (including Calypso, The Arno, Phoecus, and Orpheus).

Eventually their goal was reached and the peoples of Mars welcomed them.  But all was not wonderful on the planet.  In the Iron Hills, there was continual Thunder which caused the people who heard it Misery.  Sadly, the betrothed of the Princess [fairy tales have to have a beautiful princess, you see] had journied to Iron Hills and was now trapped there, worshipping at the "blasthemous Temple" of Thunder.  The Old Man, at the behest of the Princess, goes to the Iron Hills and by erecting a giant lightning rod manages to defet the Thunder.  Misery is gone.  The Princess marries her love.  And the Old Man goes on to many other adventures, none of which were recorded.

As Yoda might say, "Great the whimsey in this one is."

The book is available on the Internet Archives Wayback machine.  Give it a try.

Henry Kuttner:  A Memorial Symposium edited by Karen Anderson (1958)

Henry Kuttner (1915-1958) was a prolific writer of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mysteries.  His first story, "The Graveyard Rats" (1936),  showed a Lovecraftian influence that could be seen in some of his early work.  He went on to use at least seventeen pseudonyms, often producing stories tailored for the markets of the day, yet his range and talent were undeniable.  After his marriage, he and wife, noted author C. L. Moore, often collaborated and L. Sprague de Camp said that their writing was so seemless that even the couple could not say who wrote what.  As Kuttner matured, so did his writing.  He (and Moore) penned many classic works in various fields.  

By all accounts, Kuttner was a modest, giving man who helped many well-known writers in their career.  He Leigh Brackett shape her first professional sale and aided Ray Bradbury in his first sale.  Richard Matheson dedicated his novel I Am Legend to Kuttner, who help Matheson overcome many of the diffcuilties he had in writing the book.  His advice also helped Fritz Leiber start his career.

Six months after Kuttner's untimely death, Karen Anderson (writer, fan, and wife of Poul) pubished this brief, mimeographed "symposium" in honor of "one of the most outstanding and endearing personalitied of our time."  --  thirty-six pages with tributes from Poul Anderson, Fritz Leiber, Ray Bradbury, Anthony Boucher, and Robert Bloch,   Also included are a tribute poem from Karen Anderson, a piece of fan fiction by Kuttner from the Fall 1948 issue of The Fanscient, several illustrations by Edd Cartier, and a bibliography of Kuttner's science fiction compiled by Donald H. Tuck. and two pages of notes from Kuttner to Donald B. Day, dated December 20, 1951, about Kuttner's various pseudonyms.

Of interest to Kuttner fans, of which (IMHO) everyone should be. 

Here's the link to the copy reproduced at


  1. Dennis Lien notes:

    There was also a trade pb reprint of THE SHIP THAT SAILED TO MARS published about twenty years ago; admittedly not as beautiful as the original edition, but at least fifty times cheaper. . . .

    Which shows the reprint I was recalling was from 1993, from the otherwise unknown-to-me "Stonewall Publications" (the isfdb says "hc?" but my memory is that it is indeed a large trade pb) and, something I didn't know or had forgotten, that Dover did a 2011 reprint(apparently hc) as part of their
    "Calla Editions" series.

  2. Allen Mueller notes on Fb:
    As a young Kuttner/Moore fanatic, I cannot tell you badly I wanted to get my hands on the Memorial Symposium. It was about twenty years before I was able to get a look at it and another 15 before I was able to find a copy to purchase. How wonderful to access it here!