For two years I've been working on a project that got more interesting the further I got into it. Hannes Bok was one of the 20th Century's best sf-fantasy-weird fiction artists. He was a painter with an eye for beautiful colors and flowing compositions in a time when sf art was very literal and staid. His paintings featured stylized figures, colors by Parrish, and a creative imagination that could only be Bok's. And he could not be confined to one discipline in his creativity, there were paintings and line work, poetry and sculpture, intricate wood carvings and—of special interest here—fantasy novels: The Sorcerer's Ship, Beyond the Golden Stair and Starstone World.
These aren't your conventional fantasies, although all the trappings are there. They have a sly humor with plots full of twists and turns, stories which take the reader on strange metaphysical paths, and glorious descriptions that could only come from someone with a painter's eye. Certainly not the most smoothly told tales, but as Lester Del Rey wrote about Beyond the Golden Stair: "in spite of its faults, it has the sense of enchantment so rarely found in most market fantasy. And since our world needs the glamor at least as much as it ever did, let us lose no chance."
Here's your chance to experience that glamor. All three of these books have been out-of-print for at least 48 years. That's too long. They have been left behind, and should be part of the legacy of Hannes Bok, and part of the discussion of early 20th Century fantastic fiction.
None of these books had ever been collected in hardcover before, which just added to my passion to publish this book. The Fantastic Fiction of Hannes Bok will act as an introduction to and a celebration of one of the most interesting writers and artists in the world of fantasy. Please help us make this happen. We really appreciate your support in getting these American fantasies into the 21st Century.
Let's start with a short biography
Hannes Bok (Wayne Woodard) was one of the 20th Century’s greatest fantasy artists, painting 150 magazine covers as well as contributing numerous cool story illustrations to the pulps (Weird Tales, Planet Stories, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Other Worlds, Beyond Infinity, Imagination, etc.). He carved whimsical wood figures and crafted papier-mâché masks. But his talent and creativity also flowed into poetry and prose as he wrote a number of short stories, poems and novels. A pre-Stonewall gay artist, his fiction would not be recognized as gay literature as written today, as he kept far away from such literature’s concerns. He considered his fiction as a way of presenting his highly metaphysical philosophy to the audience of his beloved genre of “science fantasy.”
When he was young, like many of his generation, he was turned on to the genre by seeing the movie King Kong. (It was a huge hit, look it up.) That trip to the movies was one of his self-described “trauma” moments (a moment that changes your life forever), and he delved into the fantastic arts with abandon.
When sf/fantasy began to appear in hardcover, he painted spectacular covers for Arkham House (Skull-Face and Others, Hounds of Tindalos, House on the Borderland), Shasta (Slaves of Sleep, Who Goes There?, Kinsman of the Dragon), Gnome Press (The Castle of Iron), Fantasy Press (The Moon is Hell, The Crystal Horde, Alien Minds) and other specialty presses. Notoriously hard to work with, he was a perfectionist, often ignoring art directors.
A great raconteur, a student of astrology, a longtime friend of Ray Bradbury, and a devoted disciple of Maxfield Parrish, he loved the music of Max Steiner, Rimsky-Korsakov, Jean Sibelus and Grieg (Pier-Gynt Suites). His friend Martin Jukovsky described him as: "the unstoppable perpetual motion Bok—the Hannes Bok that would always be at work on something: a painting, a mask, a novel, an astrological chart, letters to his crowd of friends and clients. You would watch him in motion, you would then watch him sitting still—he would still be in motion!"
Bok died in poverty in 1964, never seeing any of his solo novels in hardcover or paperback, [though the books he finished from fragments left behind by Abraham Merritt (The Black Wheel and The Fox Woman) were published in his lifetime].
THE FANTASTIC FICTION OF HANNES BOK contains his three published solo novels: Starstone World, The Sorcerer's Ship, and Beyond The Golden Stair (the unedited version of the novel Blue Flamingo) It’s the first time any of these stories will be available in hardcover.
Both The Sorcerer’s Ship (1969), and Beyond The Golden Stair (1970) were titles in the acclaimed Ballantine Adult Fantasy (BAF) paperback line, edited by Lin Carter. Starstone World, Bok’s first novel-length tale, a much shorter and darker piece, has never appeared in book form, only previously available in Science Fiction Quarterly #7, [Summer, 1942], published over 75 years ago.
This omnibus also contains:
- Lin Carter’s introductions to the Ballantine Adult Fantasy editions of The Sorcerer’s Ship, and Beyond The Golden Stair, plus an all-new history of The Sorcerer’s Ship by collector and college professor William Lorenzo. Publisher Robert Garcia will provide an introduction to Starstone World. Each will be accompanied by a number of previously published and unpublished photos of Hannes Bok.
- An all-new introduction for this collection by best-selling fantasy author Charles de Lint.
- Of the three books, Bok only ever illustrated The Sorcerer’s Ship for its appearance in Unknown Worlds magazine. Those illustrations appear in this volume, plus two related paintings (a color reprise of an interior illustration and a color portrait of the creature Yanuk done for a fan).
- For the books Bok did not illustrate, we have two original frontispieces by legendary fantasy artist Jim Pitts.
- The cover art is a never-before-published color piece by Hannes Bok from the collection of John Cosgriff.
- A memorial by a close friend of Bok's Martin Jukovsky that originally appeared in Castle of Frankenstein (Volume 2 Number 2) magazine in 1965.
Look in the Reward Tiers below for details of the differences between the Standard Trade Edition and the Signed, Limited Edition.
THE SORCERER'S SHIP
Beginning like any other planetary romance, we find our hero stranded on another world. Not knowing how he got there, Gene, a modern-day New Yorker awakens to find himself wearing only his swimming trunks, sitting atop a piece of charred wood floating on a distant sea, and surrounded by a blue, electric sky. Rescued, he’s brought aboard a sailing ship of a diplomatic envoy, the lovely princess of the Koph on her way to make peace with their arch-rival the island kingdom of Nanich. Once on board, Gene is immediately poisoned by the Nanich ambassador and plunged into a world of intrigue, mutiny, open warfare, and dangerous magic. His only friends are the princess whose heart he hopes to win, and an alien sorcerer who is an acolyte of a supremely powerful being—a being whose ambivalence may lead to their success or to their destruction.
“A strange ship in a strange, unearthly world—with a demigod as a passenger, and an enchanted jewel as cargo!” —John W. Campbell, Jr.
“The Sorcerer’s Ship has an extremely tight and well-developed plot. ...[with] a light touch of whimsy that colours all the proceedings. The Sorcerer’s Ship is, in a word, fun. But it also has a warmth to it, an overwhelming sense of enthusiasm, and such a good-natured view of humanity, that I just couldn’t help but like it. There’s also a point to The Sorcerer’s Ship, a humanistic message about war finally hammered home in the novel’s climax, in a scene both amusing and shockingly gruesome.”—Michal Wojcik, One Last Sketch
"Bok’s The Sorcerer’s Ship [is] an enjoyable novel written very much under the influence of A. (Abraham) Merritt…" —Mike Barrett—The New York Review of Science Fiction
BEYOND THE GOLDEN STAIR
An adventure set in a hidden Utopia found deep in the Florida Everglades. Jailed for a crime he didn’t commit, a dream-haunted John Hibbert breaks out of prison with the bullying, giant Frank Scarlatti. In their escape, they are aided by Scarlatti’s tall, lean girlfriend Carlotta and the no-nonsense criminal Burks. As the quartet flees into the Everglades, they come upon an Aztec ruin with a Golden Stair extending into the sky, pulsing with a dark power, and guarded by a Blue Flamingo. Burks kills the guardian, and the four ascend the stair into another dimension. There Hibbert literally meets the woman of his dreams and in that metaphysical realm all four learn to face their darkest selves, and deepest fears. A fantasy reminiscent of Lost Horizon filled with gorgeous imagery, and telling a story rife with terrible tragedy.
"Highly recommended — A welcome addition to the Adult Fantasy series: the first publication in its original form of a fine fantasy novel..." —Forgotten Fantasy
"A Merrittesque-fantasy, which is what Bok was trying to write, is above all an exotic mood piece. And Beyond the Golden Stair is a superb example. Bok was an artist, and he has created here with words some beautiful scenes...If you like rich imagery and ethereal fantasy, with almost a touch of spiritualism, and don't mind the leisurely pace of events, the book is rewarding reading.” —Fred Patten, WSFA Journal
"As with The Sorcerer’s Ship, the book is stylistically very reminiscent of Abraham Merritt, of whom Bok was a devoted aficionado, but it is an extremely agreeable fantasy.” —Mike Barrett, The New York Review of Science Fiction
An interplanetary romance without much romance. Our nameless narrator, is hit by a car and his soul snatched to a faraway world by two wizards, Aibur and Yephor. Initially their slave, he’s interrogated time and again about Earth. Setting one against the other, he’s eventually sent on an impossible mission for the pair. He must go through a shimmering curtain to the other side of their world and steal a powerful magic gem from the Sorceress Sula. Upon his arrival beyond the veil, he meets Lascima, an unkempt and uncouth peasant woman living in Sula’s empire. She agrees to help him get to Sula’s castle across a land filled with deadly imps and harsh magics. Upon arrival at their goal, he finds out things aren’t what they seem.
AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY THROUGH THIS KICKSTARTER
And Flights of Angels: Abridged Edition by Emil Petaja
Author Emil Petaja was a close friend of Hannes Bok. When Bok died, Petaja wrote and produced a memorial book, And Flights of Angels, The Life and Legend of Hannes Bok. It was an 8 1/2" x 11" mimeographed book which included a long, personal look at Bok's life, and has served as the biography of record. Prices for this 1968 fan publication are quite high.
For this Kickstarter, we asked the Petaja Estate to let us reprint this book to further our goal of introducing Hannes Bok to a new generation. The Petaja Estate has given us permission to offer a trade paperback Print-On-Demand version only available through this Kickstarter. It will contain all of Petaja's text from the original publication, including his extensive biography of Bok. But it will not include the "Index" or "About Bokanalia" sections, since they are out of date. There are other remembrances in the book, and if we can get clearances, we'll include them. And the original publication's photos have also been lost to time.
This is not a stand-alone Reward. To get this book, you must purchase it in conjunction with either the Standard or the Signed, Limited edition of The Fantastic Fiction of Hannes Bok. We have created Reward Tiers expressly for that purpose. You can however, add more copies at $25 a copy. (1 copy Added-On=$25. 10 copy Added-On=$250) in conjunction with those Reward Tiers.
REWARD TIER: 3 "GET BOK!" BUMPER STICKERS
A package of Three 7.5 x 3.75 "Get Bok" Bumper stickers with an illustration from The Sorcerer's Ship. —Price: $12
REWARD TIER: THE SORCERER'S SHIP ART PRINT
Print of B&W illustration for The Sorcerer's Ship depicting Gene in Battle—Arrows Flying. This has been printed from a scan of the original artwork from the collection of William Lorenzo. The only piece in this book scanned as such. The detail is wonderful. 11" x 14", Acid Free paper and light-safe inks —Price: $20
REWARD TIER: HANNES BOK T-SHIRT
A t-shirt with Bok's depiction of Gene in Battle—Arrows Flying. A white silk-screened image on a black cotton shirt. Gildan Brand 100% cotton shirts available in sizes from Small, Medium, Large. XLarge, 2XLarge 3XLarge, 4XLarge, & 5XLarge. We'll ask for your size in the Backers survey. —Price: $25
REWARD TIER: THE STANDARD TRADE EDITION
This is the Standard Trade Hardcover Edition of The Fantastic Fiction of Hannes Bok, an omnibus containing the fantasy novels: The Sorcerer's Ship, Beyond the Golden Stair and Starstone World with Illustrations by Hannes Bok and Jim Pitts. An all-new introduction by Charles de Lint. There's a never-before-published Hannes Bok color painting on the cover. 448 pages, smyth-sewn, hardcover in a blue cloth binding, acid-free stock, unsigned. —$45
REWARD TIER: THE STANDARD TRADE EDITION + AND FLIGHTS OF ANGELS: THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF HANNES BOK
This is the Standard Trade Hardcover Edition of The Fantastic Fiction of Hannes Bok, and a copy of the Kickstarter Exclusive book: And The Flights of Angels: The Life and Legend of Hannes Bok (see Add-Ons)— $70
REWARD TIER: SIGNED, LIMITED EDITION
This is the Signed, Limited Edition of The Fantastic Fiction of Hannes Bok, contains the same fantasy novels: The Sorcerer's Ship, Beyond the Golden Stair and Starstone World with illustrations by Hannes Bok and Jim Pitts. The all-new introduction by Charles de Lint and the never-before-published Hannes Bok color painting on the cover. 448 pages, smyth-sewn, printed on acid-free stock. This edition differs from the trade in these ways:
- This edition will be bound in Navy Blue Arrestox B cloth along with a matching slipcase. And the book will have a ribbon marker.
- A full-color signature page featuring the artwork below and signed by Charles de Lint, Jim Pitts, Robert Garcia and William Lorenzo. The artwork was done for fan Jack Cordes, when he asked Bok to sign a hard-bound copy of his story The Sorcerer's Ship made from the pages of Unknown Worlds. This little creature picture of Yanuk with Bok's signature was the result, it has never been published before. (A smaller version of the art will be on the dustjacket's spine.)
- An 8 x 10 digital print of the cover art on a bright-white card stock (Kickstarter Exclusive).
REWARD TIER: THE SIGNED. LIMITED EDITION + AND FLIGHTS OF ANGELS: THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF HANNES BOK
This is the Signed, Limited Edition of The Fantastic Fiction of Hannes Bok (which includes the Kickstarter exclusive: an 8 x 10 Digital Color print of the cover art), and a copy of the Kickstarter Exclusive book: And The Flights of Angels: The Life and Legend of Hannes Bok(see Add-Ons)—$150
REWARD TIER: SUPER PACK
You get every Reward and select American Fantasy titles in this Super Pack. — $255
WHAT'S AN ADD-ON? An Add-On lets you add other rewards to your first tier choice by adding their price to your payment plus their Shipping Charge. So an extra STANDARD TRADE EDITION book would cost you in this case an extra $38 or $45 depending on when you order it, plus the shipping charges according to the chart. Adding a set of bumper stickers, add on an extra $12 plus shipping. One print or several, $20 each plus shipping, etc. You can Add-On as many items as you like. When you get the Survey at the end of the Kickstarter, we'll ask you to tell us what you wanted to add-on. You do this with the MANAGE YOUR PLEDGE button provided by Kickstarter.
Other American Fantasy titles
These American Fantasy titles can be Added On to any Reward at a discounted rate:
- Stalking The Zombie by Mike Resnick Trade Edition: $20 + $5 Shipping
- Stalking the Zombie by Mike Resnick Signed/Ltd/Leather bound Edition: $40 + $5 Shipping
- Walking Tour of the Shambles (Third Ed) by Gene Wolfe and Neil Gaiman: $10 + Free Shipping
- Invisible Pleasures Signed Trade Edition by Mary Frances Zambreno: $20 + $5 Shipping
All items will be shipped within the U.S.A. by USPS Mail and will include tracking. International orders usually take 3 weeks for delivery, but they can take up to 3-6 weeks depending on the country. Insurance is available in the USA and most countries, but the USPS only pays insurance claims for packages lost in their possession.
Artist of the frontispieces for Beyond the Golden Stair and Starstone World
One of the reasons I asked Jim Pitts to do the frontispieces for the novels without Bok art, was that I thought it quite apparent that he was a fan of the artist. It turned out that I was right. When I wrote him he replied: "This sounds like a dream commission for me....It was only AFTER I saw examples of Hannes Bok’s black and white art that I decided to try my hand at illustrating, and took to the stippling technique. Bok's artwork has been a big influence on my style and I realised later that a lot of his monochrome was achieved using an embossed paper and black pencil or crayon." -- I was delighted.
For those of you in the US who may not be familiar with his fantastic art, Jim began his career in sf, fantasy and horror fanzines back in the early 1970s. They served as a springboard to a lifetime of artwork for UK, European and American fantasy and horror books and magazines. Over the years, Jim has twice won the British Fantasy Society award for Best Artist, and upon the publication of his art book: The Fantastical World of Jim Pitts (still available), Phantasmagoria Magazine called him "…one of the great fantasy artists of our time." His full bio is below:
Jim Pitts was born on the 19th of January 1950 in Blackburn, Lancashire in the north of England U.K. He still lives in the same town and shares his birthday with Edgar Allan Poe. His grand parents rented the house that the writer William Hope Hodgson was rumoured to live in for some of the time he spent in Blackburn.
Jim first offered his illustrations for publication to David Sutton for his forthcoming magazine the H.P. Lovecraft Bibliotheca, and at the same time he also offered a picture called The Gargoyle to Jon Harvey for his magazine Balthus back in 1970. The picture for the Balthus cover went on to win the Ken McIntyre award for best artist at Novacon in 1971. Over the years Dave Sutton and Jon Harvey have maintained their interest in publishing fantasy and horror, and Jim is currently working on a cover for David’s Shadow Press for a collection inspired by the work of R. Chetwynd-Hayes. He is also waiting for publication of a Cthulhu Mythos collection of stories or which he has done the colour covers and over a dozen black & white interiors from Jon’s Spectre Press.
Jim has also worked on many varied publications including Shadows of Innsmouth, a collaboration with the two British fantasy illustrators, Dave Carson and Martin McKenna. This H.P. Lovecraft inspired collection of stories was edited by Stephen Jones, and published by U.S. publishers Fedogan & Bremer. Other books for Fedogan & Bremer were a Brian Lumley collection of Cthulhu Mythos stories Earth, Fire and Water and the interior illustrations for their US edition of Looking for Something to Suck, entitled The Vampire Stories of R. Chetwynd-Hayes.
Peter Coleborn’s Alchemy Press is another publisher Jim has worked with over the years. The most recent being numerous headings for the collection The Alchemy Press Book of Horrors and now also its second volume. He also worked on Nick Nightmare Investigates, a collection of Adrian Cole's anti-hero Nick Nightmare, which went on to win the British Fantasy Society award for best collection.
His friend David Riley of Parallel Universe Publications, decided to bring out a retrospective collection of Jim’s work The Fantastical World of Jim Pitts: Rolling Back the Years in 2017. The book contained much of Jim’s b&w and colour work, with articles and remembrances of the early years in his career from friends such as Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Jones, Brian Lumley, Adrian Cole and others. (A two-volume version of the book in trade paperback is available on Amazon.)
Jim also went on to have the British Fantasy Society best artist awarded to him in the years 1992 and 1993. Having retired from his professional working life in 2014 he is officially an O.A.P., he is happily filling in his time working at his drawing board and keeping in touch with his friends and correspondents around the world.
CHARLES DE LINT
Introduction to the book
Charles de Lint is the author of more than eighty adult, young adult, and children’s books. Renowned as one of the trailblazers of the modern fantasy genre, he is the recipient of the World Fantasy, Aurora (three times), Sunburst, and White Pine awards, among others and was inducted into the Canadian SF & Fantasy Association Hall of Fame. De Lint is a poet, folklorist, artist, songwriter and performer. He has written critical essays, music reviews, opinion columns and entries to encyclopedias, and he’s been the main book reviewer for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction since 1987. He’s been a judge for several prominent awards, including the Nebula, World Fantasy, Theodore Sturgeon and Bram Stoker. [from author’s website]
Introductions to The Sorcerer's Ship and Beyond the Golden Stair
Lin Carter (1930-1988) was the creator of the sword and sorcery hero Thongor, as well as the author of pastiches of numerous authors’ work from Edgar Rice Burroughs to Robert E. Howard to H.P. Lovecraft to Lord Dunsany. From 1965 to 1969 he averaged six books a year. He also wrote the non-fiction genre titles: Tolkien: A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings, Lovecraft: A Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos, and Imaginary Worlds: the Art of Fantasy.
His most important contribution to the fantasy field was as the Consulting Editor of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series where he published both The Sorcerer's Ship (1969) and Beyond the Golden Stair (1970). The series introduced a number of early 20th Century fantasy novels to the 1960s-70s reading audience. It was in this series, that the fantasies of Lord Dunsany, Ernest Bramah, Hope Mirrless, George MacDonald, Fletcher Pratt, L. Sprague de Camp, H.P. Lovecraft, G.K. Chesterton, Poul Anderson, Clark Ashton Smith and Hannes Bok were brought into mass-market paperback. The BAS also brought back the work of the 19th century authors, William Morris, William Thomas Beckford, F. Marion Crawford and George Meredith, all of which at the time were vanishing from the literary landscape. Carter also published original novels from authors Katherine Kurtz, Joy Chant, and Evangeline Walton.
While editing the BAFS, Carter also became known for his anthologies in the line, which led him to later edit a number of fantasy series: Flashing Swords! (1973-1981), The Years Best Fantasy Stories (1975-1980) and the paperback anthology series of Weird Tales (1981-1983).
He died of cancer in 1988.
Afterword to The Sorcerer's Ship
I am amazed at how long ago it was that I first saw the artwork of Hannes Bok. It was the seventh issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland (June 1960) and Forrest J. Ackerman was taking bids on some movie-related hardcovers in the Mail Order section and pictured the dust jacket for WHO GOES THERE? by Bok. Then I encountered the November 1963 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction as Bok’s glorious cover for “Rose for Ecclesiastes” shone from the store rack. I bought two issues. Again I was captivated by his unique vision.
That led to hunting down his work wherever I could find it. In 1972 I bought my first Bok original, “Subterfuge” the illustration for the Ray Bradbury story in the April 1943 Astonishing Stories and haven’t stopped collecting his original art since. I contributed to the Revised Hannes Bok Checklist in 1973 and my work has appeared in The Hannes Bok Memorial Showcase of Fantasy Art and Whispers. My Bok art collection is large and varied, including not only his finished art and sketchbooks but photos and correspondence as well.
I teach at The School of Visual Arts in NYC and am on the Executive Board of ASIFA-East, the New York chapter of the International Animated Film Association. In 1988 I published “Lillian Friedman Astor – Pioneer Woman Animator”, a scene-by-scene index of the first woman animator in the U.S.
Remembrance of Hannes Bok at the end of the book
A long-time friend of Bok, Martin Jukovsky is based in Cambridge, Mass., and has been photographing since the 1960s, first with film and now with digital. He's also written about photography and cinema, and was Editor-in-Chief of VIEWS, the journal of photographic history and criticism published by the New England Photographic Resource Center.
Photographs for this edition were provided by LOCUS Magazine, Andrew Porter, Martin Jukovsky and William Lorenzo.
JUST FOR FUN
We thought you'd enjoy seeing the first video we did for this Kickstarter, featuring Bob and his cat, Cheyenne.
Risks and challenges
I have been working in book publishing since 1983, running my own press as well as working for others. I'm very aware of the stumbling blocks in producing a book. Trying to avoid the pitfalls entailed with delivering this book in a timely fashion, we have formatted THE FANTASTIC FICTION OF HANNES BOK, scanned in the cover art, commissioned the non-fiction pieces and received price quotes from printers. Arranged for some goodies in the Rewards. We are currently working on a final proofreading.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)