Olaf Stapledon's picture

Olaf Stapledon

(William Olaf Stapledon)
UK flag (1886 - 1950)

Completely separate from the pulp sf tradition, yet a tremendous influence upon it, the five novels of the philosopher Olaf Stapledon were a fictional popularisation of his ideas about the unimportance of the individual except through fulfilment in community life. Two of them First and Last Men and Star Maker adopt vast historical perspectives to show the entire history of our humanity and its greatly altered descendants and of the whole history of intelligent life in the galaxy; their sense of scale, and their demonstration of a tragic view of life worked out across aeons, have affected much subsequent space opera--they are also prodigal with insights and story ideas. Last Men in London is less a narrative than a perspective on contemporary life and mores by one of the Neptunian superintelligences of the earlier book. Odd John and Sirius are both tales of extraordinary individuals destroyed by mediocrity--the first a superintelligent human genius and the second a dog of high human intelligence; both are bracingly depressing books in which inevitable tragedy is left to speak for itself.
Non fiction
Anthologies containing stories by Olaf Stapledon
Short stories
The Man Who Became a Tree
The Flying Men (1930)
The Story of John (1930)
Nutrition (1932)
Nautiloids (1937)
The Star Maker (excerpt) (1937)
Universal History (1937)
The Reign of Darkness (1942)
Old Man in a New World (1944)
Sirius at Cambridge (1944)
The Flames: A Fantasy (1947)
The Peak and the Town (1984)

Books about Olaf Stapledon
Olaf Stapledon (1984) by Harvey J Satty and Curtis C Smith
The Legacy of Olaf Stapledon (1989) by Patrick A McCarthy
Olaf Stapledon (1994) by Robert Crossley

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