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ODD JOHN (The Garland Library of Science Fiction) Hardcover – August 1, 1975


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Hardcover, August 1, 1975
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Product Details

  • Series: The Garland Library of Science Fiction
  • Hardcover: 191 pages
  • Publisher: Dissertations-G (August 1, 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824014375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824014377
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 5.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,152,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Olaf Stapledon (1886-1950) was born near Liverpool and educated at Balliol College, Oxford and Liverpool University. After spending eighteen months working in a shipping office in Liverpool and Port Said, he lectured extramurally for Liverpool University in English literature and industrial history. He served in France from 1915 until 1919 with the Friends' Ambulance Unit and then lectured again for Liverpool University in psychology and philosophy. His novels include FIRST AND LAST MAN, LAST ME IN LONDON, STAR MAKER and ODD JOHN. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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It's a great book and a sci-fi must read but it didn't agree very much with my taste.
Alexander Angelopoulos
A seminal work of science fiction that reflects the European mindset of the post-World War I era and presages the rise of postmodernism and globalization.
Gregory Alan Wingo
I suppose this raises the question as to whether this is really science fiction or fantasy.
Aussiescribbler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jerald R Lovell on March 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the first superman novels, and still, by all that is holy, simply the best. John Wainwright, born in England of mixed ancestry parentage has super abilities, a very slow maturation rate, extreme longevity, and amazing mental powers, among other things. He is to Homo sapiens as Homo sapiens is to Australopithecus. How does John cope in a world of what, to him, are hardly more than savage apes?
I can't tell of course; that would be unsporting. Prepare to say that your sense of what is moral may receive a long-overdue examination upon completion of this absolutely fascinating book about how a superior being would cope with early 20th century mores, technology, politics, and social convention. You will never forget the book, or John's answer to his plight.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Maximiliano F Yofre on October 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
Olaf Stapledon (1886-1950) is believed to be the generational link between H. G. Wells (with whom he corresponded) and more recent British sci-fi authors as Arthur C. Clark (who recognizes Stapledon's influence on his "Childhood's End").

Born in England, spent his infancy at Port Said, absorbing the influence of the multicultural environment. He was a conscientious-objector but served as ambulance driver in WWI. In 1925 he was awarded with a Ph.D. in Philosophy and this is clearly perceptible in his novels.
He had a powerful imagination and humanistic, scientific and philosophical interests that he poured in his four major opus: "Last an First Men" (1930), "Odd John" (1935), "Star Maker" (1937) and "Sirius" (1944).

The present story follows the life and deeds of a Super Human. He is the product of an evolutionary jump and graced with super human intelligence.
This intelligence needs time to evolve and grow, so John maintain infant characteristic by a longer period than normal.
He is in permanent conflict with his surroundings, mastering them is a hard task. In order to receive help he recruits/enthralls a family's friend, who is the narrator in this novel.
John grows up and discovers he is not alone; there are other specimens of Homo Superior around the world. He sets out to search and recruit them for a unique project: establishing a Colony of his kind.

Stapledon use the different anecdotes to illustrate his cogitations about human kind, religion, politic, justice, ethic and more, many more transcendental subjects.

It is thought provoking book, not what you'll expect from an ordinary sci-fi novel, not easy to read either but nevertheless a gripping story.

Reviewed by Max Yofre.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Maximiliano F Yofre on April 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Olaf Stapledon (1886-1950) is believed to be the generational link between H. G. Wells (with whom he corresponded) and more recent British sci-fi authors as Arthur C. Clark (who recognizes Stapledon's influence on his "Childhood's End").

Born in England, spent his infancy at Port Said, absorbing the influence of the multicultural environment. He was a conscientious-objector but served as ambulance driver in WWI. In 1925 he was awarded with a Ph.D. in Philosophy and this is clearly perceptible in his novels.

He had a powerful imagination and humanistic, scientific and philosophical interests that he poured in his four major opus: "Last an First Men" (1930), "Odd John" (1935), "Star Maker" (1937) and "Sirius" (1944).

The present story follows the life and deeds of a Super Human. He is the product of an evolutionary jump and graced with super human intelligence.

This intelligence needs time to evolve and grow, so John maintain infant characteristic by a longer period than normal.

He is in permanent conflict with his surroundings, mastering them is a hard task. In order to receive help he recruits/bewitch a family's friend, who is the narrator in this novel.

John grows up and discovers he is not alone; there are other specimens of Homo Superior around the world. He sets out to search and recruit them for a unique project: establishing a Colony of his kind.

Stapledon use the different anecdotes to illustrate his reflections about human kind, religion, politic, justice, ethic and more, many more subjects of transcendence.

It is thought provoking book, not what you'll expect from an ordinary sci-fi novel, not easy to read either but nevertheless a gripping story.

Reviewed by Max Yofre.
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By Dave_42 on October 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
Olaf Stapledon's "Odd John: A Story Between Jest and Earnest", published in 1935, is his third novel and it takes the idea of the evolution of homo sapiens into a new race, an idea which he touched on briefly at the end of his second novel "Last Men in London", and this time he devotes the entire work into looking at the interaction between homo sapiens and the new race homo superior. The idea of Supermen was not new, Philip Wylie's "Gladiator" from 1930 is one example which predates "Odd John" and "Last Men in London" for that matter, though Wylie's superman was man-made and not a product of evolution.

What makes Stapledon unique is not the subject matter, but the way he deals with it. The story is told through the eyes of the narrator, an adult human, who is a friend of the Wainwrights. The narrator describes John Wainwright, i.e. Odd John, as a child and through his development growing up and the events that take place. Stapledon's works always have a strong philosophical approach to them, and "Odd John" is no different. He doesn't attempt to show the world through John's eyes, but rather the reaction of a "normal" human to a super-human, and the reaction of humanity to the realization that homo-superiors exist.

Stapledon looks at moral and ethical issues of the interaction between the two species. Man kills animals often enough, so if homo-superior considers homo-sapiens animals, would they have any ethical problem with killing them? Would homo-sapiens have any problem defending their existence by murdering off the homo-superiors before they become too strong? There are a couple aspects missing from the philosophical discussions which occur between the narrator and John, and those are the ideas of sentience and intelligence.
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