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Star Maker (Early Classics of Science Fiction) Paperback – May 24, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A buried treasure of 20th century literature reemerges in this splendid and practical edition. McCarthy's revealing introduction and notes display the genius of Star Maker to a new century." -- Robert Crossley, author of Olaf Stapledon: Speaking for the Future

Review

“A buried treasure of 20th century literature reemerges in this splendid and practical edition. McCarthy’s revealing introduction and notes display the genius of Star Maker to a new century.” (Robert Crossley, author of Olaf Stapledon: Speaking for the Future)|“Star Maker is a masterpiece in the field of science fiction, a bursting to the brim compendium of ideas for later science fiction writers.” (Robert Shelton, Associate Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Michigan State University)
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Product Details

  • Series: Early Classics of Science Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Wesleyan University Press (May 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819566934
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819566935
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,107,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Michael Valdivielso on May 26, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'Star Maker' by Olaf Stapledon is more about philosophy than about science fiction, but it has enough of both to make all kinds of fans happy. The author covers the history of, well, almost everything. He travels through space and time, back and forth, to explore everything from intelligent stars to the alien civilizations that rise ands fall, from simple plant-men to massive utopias. Always, he is also looking for the Star Maker, God, the Great Creator.
He even links this book to his first novel, 'Last And First Man', by talking about some periods in mankind's history, like the war with Mars. This book is all about scale. Yet while I enjoyed this book it didn't feel as well planned, as detailed as 'Last And First Man'. But I'm not sure a book of 272 pages could be said to be lacking in details. Its scope is vast and giving too many details might of limited it, framed it into too small a canvas. Olaf is using wide strokes of his huge brush to build this story.
With a forword by Brain Aldiss and a interesting glossary, I would suggest this book for both sci-fi fans, people looking for God in what seems like a godless universe and also people who just enjoy philosophy.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Dave_42 on March 20, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Star Maker", by Olaf Stapledon, is an incredible novel by an author whose contributions to science fiction are unique and serve as inspiration to many of the greatest works in the field. It was Stapledon's fourth novel and was first published in 1937. Narrated by the same voice as narrated "Last and First Men" the novel is a sequel of sorts, but at the same time it has a much larger scope and thus there is no noticeable overlap between the two novels. As with "Last and First Men", "Star Maker" is not a conventional novel, so if that is what you are looking for, you should look elsewhere. It is a philosophical journey rather than a conventional story with a traditional plot and characters.

The narrator takes the reader on a journey through the universe and through time, starting on a hill near his home, and ultimately finding the creator of the universe, i.e. the Star Maker. He witnesses the entire life of the universe, and joins with many other minds from other civilizations throughout the galaxy. It is tempting to use phrases like "for its time" when describing this book, but it is a remarkable work for any time. I am sure that some of descriptions of civilizations and their scientific achievements would change if it were written today. However, the statement that the book makes would likely remain the same.

One does not need to read "Last and First Men" (or "Last Men in London" for that matter) to read this novel. The few remarks made in the narration that reference "Last and First Men" will not cause the reader any difficulty. They pass by almost unnoticed, as the reader's focus is on the amazing scope and vision which are contained in this novel. Stapledon's works are not the easiest reads, but they are well worth the effort.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By DAVID BRYSON VINE VOICE on July 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
On a suburban hill, presumably on the Wirral (with the foundry beyond the estuary being Shotton or Brymbo), a man falls asleep and experiences not some mere vision of the entire cosmos but a conscious participation in the Creator's whole programme of innumerable cosmoi. This is a compulsive and utterly comfortless book. Keep a sense of humour if you are going to read it attentively, as you may need that to stay sane. It starts at a level familiar to science-fiction readers, and the details of the various alien intelligences have the sort of fascination that one gets in, say, Van Vogt (or even the work that immortally began 'Help, we are surrounded by Vugs'). The vision then advances to the collective telepathic minds developed by some of the civilisations, next to the sentient minds (individual and collective) of the stars themselves, then to similar consciousness possessed by whole nebulae, and finally to direct contact with the Creator. This Creator is not some fount of infinite love and goodness as we might understand those concepts. Our values are not his -- 'Sympathy was not ultimate in the temper of the eternal spirit; contemplation was. Love was not absolute; contemplation was.' Countless disasters and unthinkable suffering are all part of the grand design. Hell itself may be deliberately inflicted by the Creator on those he gives no opportunity to avoid it. To me this scenario seems just as likely as any religious theory of ultimate goodness, which may be basically wishful thinking. Grappling with questions like these by reasoning is like wrestling with a jelly in a high wind -- when we think we have made progress it just closes back in on us from behind. And other than reason what do we have? Belief is just belief -- things may be the way we believe or would rather believe, or they may not.Read more ›
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Phillip Kay on October 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
The other day I finished re-reading a book I first read nearly 20 years ago, Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker. I am just as amazed at its imaginative scope as I was 20 years ago. Re-reading it now I recognise many of my basic ideas, probably derived from a first reading of the book: the value of community; the idea of sentience applied to other life forms; the 'livingness' of all creation; the idea of harmony as essential to an approach to 'god'.

Stapledon's book has been compared to Dante's. I find the language beautiful, the thought intricate and marvelously well-constructed: at once a deeply felt work of spiritual vision, a work of incredible imaginative scope, a detailed reasoning of the possible construction of reality, a work of fiction that carries the reader along despite its complexity, and a work of poetry.

Star Maker was written in 1937. It caused a sensation at the time (H G Wells was still alive, a potent example of philosopher-opinion shaper-novelist). After a few years it was forgotten, until in the 60s academics took up 'popular culture' and a canon was constructed for science fiction. Neither Wells nor Stapledon would have been interested in science fiction...

Stapledon uses the dream metaphor, just as ambiguously as Dante. Dante in the middle of his life finds himself in a dark wood (a metaphor which becomes 'real' to form the poem). Stapledon lies on a hill top, thinking of mortality and looking at the stars. He falls asleep and dreams/has a vision/is transported through the solar system. Travelling from star to star he finds another earth, where similar but distinct beings to humans go through many of the struggles, disasters and triumphs which have marked human history. So Swift might have written, though Stapledon is philosophically detached.
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