Monday, August 18, 2008

The Ship of Ishtar

Today's posting of an article on Abraham Merritt, Lord of Fantasy, by Sam Moskowitz here sent me to the closet to dig out my 5th edition copy of Ship of Ishtar, from Avon paperbacks, shown above. The illustration was by fantasy artist Stephen Fabian. Next I went on a hunt through the library and found some intriguing books. The best was this 1934 memorial edition of Ishtar, cover art by Edgar Cirlin, interiors by fan favorite Virgil Finlay.

Our hero John Kenyon receives a queer block from ancient Babylon inscribed with the record of Sargon of Akkad. He strikes the stone and as it disintegrates a miniature elfin ship comes forth, a cloud of dust covers Kenyon, and he is transported to the deck of the ship where he encounters the beautiful temptress Sharane and the evil Nergal, Lord of the Dead. As the alliterative blurb says, The Ship of Ishtar is "a novel limned in lapis lazuli." Merritt's purple adventures were so popular that in 1966 Avon boasted sales of 5,000,000 copies of his reprinted works.

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