Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Inspiration: Fairies on Mars

I have come as was intended, and must have been decreed, to a most amazing land, called Mars, a land peopled, not by Things of various and curious deformities, but by Fairies of unusual grace and beauty.
– – The Old Man         

The Ship that Sailed to Mars is a charming tale about a man with an impossible desire.  Undeterred by the proponents of science and logic...
...he had taken his leave of men, and men's ways, and had spent his long lifetime in a sleepy office in a dull, dark street; passing his waking hours in strange dreams, or poring over weird and ancient books, and always and ever planning a ship to sail to Mars.
He recruited Fairies to assist him in building a ship based on his plans.  When the ship was ready, Fairies were selected by lot to act as crew.  During the voyage, they were exposed to various dangers and became lost.  The rulers of Fairyland dispatched an Air Sprite to guide them since “they know the planets by name and the stars as familiar habitations.”
The Zoo
Assisted by the Air Sprite, the old man and the Fairies journeyed to “The Star of the Classic Myths” where resided legends from “the Golden Age of Myth.”  They also visited the Pirates' Planet where the “spirits of all the Buccaneers and Pirates who sailed the fabled mains...fight their ancient and dishonourable battles over again.”

The Temple
Eventually, they reached Mars where “dwell those Fairies who fled the Moon when that unhappy planet cooled from sunny opulence to clearest shimmering ice.”  Celebrations ensued and the visitors enjoyed the various sights, such as the Zoo and the Fairy Temple.

It was indeed a spot where any dreadful thing might easily happen.”
After some time, the Old Man ventured forth on a mission from the Princess.  In the middle of a dark forest he found himself face-to-face with a monstrous beast.  Fortunately, the beast was merely the pet of some Forest Fairies “carrying lanterns of dead dragons' eyes.”  The Forest Fairies helped the Old Man on his way to Thunder City in the Iron Hills where Fairies had been entranced by Misery.  The story ends after the Old Man succeeds in his mission; however, the epilogue hints at further tales of the Old Man and the Fairies on Mars.

Industry in Thunder City
The Ship that Sailed to Mars was originally published in 1923 and is the creation of architect William M. Timlin (1892 - 1943).  The illustrations, obviously, are wonderful.  A 2011 edition is available at a reasonable price.  Timlin planned another illustrated book, The Building of a Fairy City.  Sadly, it was never completed.

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