Olaf Stapledon’s Future Histories: Last and First Men (1930) and Star Maker (1937)


“This is a work of fiction.” (p. 1)

It’s unfair of me to combine reviews of Olaf Stapledon’s fraternal twin opuses, Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future (1930) and Star Maker (1937), both of which are distinct and singular fictional pieces, yet the vast scope of both novels has dazed me in such a way that all I can really do is think of them as a pair, a pair which I think of fondly, reflect upon regularly, and recommend heartily. Their metaphysical and conceptual grandeur is so significant, I am more than a bit mystified in the review department. Is there anything fresh to say after 80 publication years, two billion future history years, and one star maker mind meld? Continue reading

Odd John: A Story Between Jest and Earnest (1935) by Olaf Stapledon

OddJohn1I warned visitors in my last monthly post that my prescribed TBR as of late has wandered into more modern, mainstream fare (in other words, blah). As we know, I am a stubborn sort of reader, and I stick to my list, but I found a little extra time this month to indulge a little craving for something even older than my usual comfort zone. A sudden desire to spend my evening strolls listening to a pulpy dramatized space opera motivated me to look for that Jack Williamson retro Hugo nominee from last year—but then I stumbled across Odd John by Olaf Stapledon.

I’ve had bad luck with the childish space dramas of the 1930s but I’ve been promised by several good authorities that Olaf Stapledon is a special kind of 1930’s SF writer. They weren’t kidding. Continue reading