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Last and First Men and Star Maker : Two Science Fiction Novels Paperback – June 1, 1968


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 438 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (June 1, 1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486219623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486219622
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This is so true of today's and future societies.
M. Jacobs
This is one of the most deeply considered pieces of science fiction every written, and a must-read for any serious scholar of the genre.
Stefan Jones
If Stapledon has in fact "published a few articles in professional philosophical journals" this is good enough for me.
Edward J. Holupka

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Stefan Jones on April 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
LAST & FIRST MEN
This extremely strange book, published by an philisophically minded englishman around 1932, doesn't really qualify as a novel. There are only a few lines of dialogue, and most characters stick around for maybe a paragraph or two. Last and First Men is best thought of as a future history. Not the history of America or Western Civilization, but of the human species. Two billion years of it.
Fair Warning: Stapledon, an intellectural pacifist and survivor of the hideous spectacle of World War One, lets his prejudices and peculiarities show in the first five or so chapters of the book. He predicts a second (and further) world wars, but gets the details spectacularly wrong. America gets its knocks, but for reasons that are entirely unfair; Stapledon's beliefs about american society are bizarre and off-base. He later apologized and admitted that these early chapters were rather weak. So . . . if you get this book, you won't hurt your enjoyment of the story if you skip to the section entitled "The Americanized World" and go from there. Now that that's out of the way . . .
Last and First Men is written about the big picture. It follows Western civilization until it succumbs to an energy crisis and intellectual stagnation. A successor culture based in Patagonia arises, but an experiment with atomic power blasts it, and much of the land mass of the Earth, into oblivion. A few arctic explorers survive, but by the time humanity regains a technological civilization it has evolved into a sturdier, larger species . . . the "second men." These potentially superior creatures find themselves threatened by an invasion from Mars . . . and such martians they are!
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 29, 1996
Format: Paperback
I have never read a writer who was able to convey the
vastness of the universe and the infinitely complex
possibilities of sentient life forms over evolutionary
stretches of time. The first of the two novels in this
publication, Last and First Men, Olaf Stapledon describes
the spiritual, intellectual and biological evolution of the
human species from our modern era to its last residence on
Neptune. The slowly changing forces of our planets and the
sun force humans to adapt and change, and Olaf Stapledon
documents these adaptations and the adaptations humans
impose on their environments. Illustrating the
unimaginably long time required for this evolution is
Stapledon's unique talent. The theme of the story is
human's destiny - to achieve a collective conciousness.
It is a fitting introduction for the next novel in this
collection - Star Maker.

In his novel Star Maker Olaf Stapledon builds a pyramid
based on intricate descriptions of the galaxy's sentient
beings and illustrates the spiritual journey of all sentient
beings toward a unification into a galactic consciousness,
with the ultimate goal of meeting the creator of the
universe. He applies his clear knowledge of modern
biological and cultural evolution and their interactions
with their environments to illustrate this journey of
countless species, societies and individuals toward this
galactic destiny. Along the way are a few twists, which are
too exciting in their intricacy to give away here! The end
finds our universal being finally able to glimpse its
creator.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jason Lollis on August 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
Last and First Men: Another reviewer mentions that Stapledon's treatment of America is unfair, referencing Stapledon's later apology for his anti-Americanization views. However, in light of current modernization and McDonaldization of the world, I'm not entirely sure Stapledon is all that far off, and as it's a piece of fiction, I certainly don't think he has anything to apologize about. The story itself serves as an excellent treatise on both the fragility of human life as well as our constant push toward exploration and change. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in speculative thought on what it is to be human and involved in the experiment of life.

Star Maker: This book is dizzying in scope. Rushing the reader through ever expanding finite perspectives on the purpose of the Universe, Stapledon seems to follow a Spinozan line of ultimate ends (highly theistic), while abiding by a very relativistic view of life. I was left awed by the breadth of this story as well as the finitude it firmly ensconces the reader within.

I would not recommend this compilation to anyone looking for a quick read, good dialogue or anything resembling a traditional novel. I would definitely recommend this compilation to anyone without an aversion to Science-Fiction and interested in following one person's perspective on questions involving cognizant existence, the universe and everything.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By TimDale@broadmere.demon.co.uk on August 3, 1998
Format: Paperback
Within these two works, Stapleton dares to speculate on some of the most fundamental and unanswerable questions to ever occur to the mind of man, whilst at the same time presenting two original, innovative and captivating tales which draw the reader on and upward, litterally taking ones breath away with their majesty. Last and First Men is the story of us, and how we could develop and evolve, a tale of our future, which, despite being over sixty years old, has dated very little, largely due to the sheer scale upon which it is set. Whilst initialy hard going, once the reader becomes use to the style, the content more than makes up for this and one is soon lost in man's struggle for survival, and for his own mind and what it could be come, a prevailing theme through out this and the sequel, Star Maker. Star Maker takes the ideas from Last and First Men one step further, following the development of the mind beyond mankind, though alien evolutions, up to the end of the uni! verse itself, a daunting concept. Both these tales are challenging ones, questioning what is known and what could be, and are possibly some of the most thought provoking works of Science Fiction, Cosmology and Philosophy you are likely to come across.
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