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


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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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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: 8 x 2 x 10 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: #7,672,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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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 Aussiescribbler on July 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
Stapledon uses this tale of a youth who is an example of a new superior species emerging from conventional humanity as a way to examine the human condition from the outside. John's account to the narrator of the failings of our species and why we are, he feels, doomed to self-destruction really cut to the quick. And the fact that John operates according to moral principles so very different from our own is something which also can stimulate uncomfortable questions about the bases of our values. How would we feel about sacrificing the lives of members of a less developed species in service of the survival of our own? We do it all the time. But it doesn't seem quite so acceptable perhaps when we are that lesser species.

Of course having a narrator who is a member of homo sapiens rather than the new homo superior means that much of what John and his fellow supermen and superwomen do and think can only be hinted at. But Stapledon does an amazing job of hinting at some kind of liberated universal consciousness and the communal living it makes possible. All of this is made easier by the fact that the new species is telepathic, even being able to travel telepathically into the past and commune with those who are now dead.

I suppose this raises the question as to whether this is really science fiction or fantasy. John comes up with a number of new technologies which play a part in the story, but even the method of propulsion on his boat and airplane involve the psychic manipulation of atomic forces. Then again, if the behaviour of particles is effected by their being observed as quantum physicists say, maybe telekinesis does have a place in science fiction.
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