The Sorcerer's Ship Critical Essays

Wayne Woodard


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Hannes Bok is perhaps best known as an illustrator for science-fiction and fantasy magazines. He met Ray Bradbury in 1937 in Los Angeles, when Bradbury was still in high school, and soon Bok was providing cover designs for Bradbury’s fan magazine, Futuria Fantasia. Bradbury introduced Bok to Farnsworth Wright, the editor of Weird Tales, who then wanted Bok to illustrate stories for his magazine.

In 1942, Bok began writing science fiction and fantasy. His first novel, “Starstone World,” was published in Science Fiction Quarterly in the summer of 1942. (It had not been released in book form by 1995.) The Sorcerer’s Ship followed, appearing in Unknown in December of the same year.

Bok’s skill as an illustrator influences his storytelling. His descriptions are highly pictorial and full of images that appeal to the senses. The opening scene describes Gene lost on a raft in the ocean. Bok describes the light on the waves, the heat of the sun, the clouds, and the sky in very visual, concrete terms. Bok’s power of description is also apparent in his account of the destruction of Nanich by the armies of Koph and the subsequent destruction of those armies and the city of Koph by Orcher.

Bok’s novel also has elements of a moral tale. Froar and Kaspel represent the archetypal wise counselor and evil counselor. Sirwana is temporarily persuaded by the evil Froar but eventually comes to...

(The entire section is 458 words.)