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The greatest future histories in science fiction. In Last and First Men the protagonist is "mankind" in an ultimate definition — intelligence. Star Maker, in a sense its sequel, is concerned with the history of intelligence in the entire cosmos.


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The greatest future histories in science fiction. In Last and First Men the protagonist is "mankind" in an ultimate definition — intelligence. Star Maker, in a sense its sequel, is concerned with the history of intelligence in the entire cosmos.

30 review for Last and First Men/Star Maker

  1. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    This review is only for Last and First Men as I have not yet read Star Maker. Last and First Men 4.0 stars. WOW, this book is in a class all by itself for originality, imagination and scope. I can not believe I have not heard more about this book as being one of the true "classics" of science fiction. Written in the 1930's, this is a future history that tells the story of mankind over a span of 2 billion years (yes billion with a B) from 1930 until approximately the year 2,000,000,000. During tha This review is only for Last and First Men as I have not yet read Star Maker. Last and First Men 4.0 stars. WOW, this book is in a class all by itself for originality, imagination and scope. I can not believe I have not heard more about this book as being one of the true "classics" of science fiction. Written in the 1930's, this is a future history that tells the story of mankind over a span of 2 billion years (yes billion with a B) from 1930 until approximately the year 2,000,000,000. During that period humanity evolves through what Olaf describes as 18 different species of men (our present being the "First Men" of the title). Through those 18 iterations, we see everything from giant-brained "superminds" to genetically-engineered supermen to aquatic fishmen and much, much more. The reason that the book, for all its amazing inventiveness, does not get 5 stars is because the narrative, at times, can be very, very dry. The detailed descriptions of each successive species of humanity and the trials and tribulations that befall them can become a bit tedious. Thus, there were times when I was not enjoying myself as much as I would have liked, despite being in almost constant awe of the writer's imangination. However, despite that crticism, this is a book that I strongly recommend to all fans of science fiction as many of the ideas and concepts found in modern science fiction found their first true expression in this amazing futrue history. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ushan

    The first novel is a truly long-term history of humanity, on the scale of millions of years, as imagined by a British philosopher between the world wars. In the far future, humanity splits into several species, not all of them intelligent. The second novel goes farther: a true Universe-wide, billion-year view of the evolution of intelligence similar to the H. G. Wells's story "Under the Knife". It is reading such old science fiction that makes one appreciate the effort expended by physicists and The first novel is a truly long-term history of humanity, on the scale of millions of years, as imagined by a British philosopher between the world wars. In the far future, humanity splits into several species, not all of them intelligent. The second novel goes farther: a true Universe-wide, billion-year view of the evolution of intelligence similar to the H. G. Wells's story "Under the Knife". It is reading such old science fiction that makes one appreciate the effort expended by physicists and astronomers since it was written on constructing modern cosmology.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David C. Mueller

    I first read these two novels as a teenager. They are actually more like lengthy scholarly essays than modern character-focused fictional narratives. They set the standard of long-term vision and inclusion of issues pertaining to social and spiritual growth to which I have compared all the subsequent science fiction I have read. "Last and First Men" presents an historical overview of our current and future human races stretching eons into the future. This perspective challenges the reader to see I first read these two novels as a teenager. They are actually more like lengthy scholarly essays than modern character-focused fictional narratives. They set the standard of long-term vision and inclusion of issues pertaining to social and spiritual growth to which I have compared all the subsequent science fiction I have read. "Last and First Men" presents an historical overview of our current and future human races stretching eons into the future. This perspective challenges the reader to see beyond the economic fads and cultural fallacies of the present and take the long view about what is truly in the best interest of our sentient species. "Star Maker" involves a 20th century character making a mental journey that informs him about other non-human sentient species and the evolution in the far future of a universe spanning consciousness composed of such species working together to seek spiritual enlightenment. A pan-sentient, galaxy spanning "community of worlds" is depicted that enjoys a spiritual maturity far beyond the majority of galactic organizations delineated in modern science fiction. "Last and First Men" and "Star Maker" are truly breathtaking works, even more amazing since they were written in the 1930's.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth

    STAR MAKER and LAST AND FIRST MEN are both key works, perhaps the most mind-blowing novels I've ever read. No other books I know of convey such a gripping sense of the epically vast possibilities in an infinite universe and uncounted billions of years.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Skallagrimsen

    Last and First Men isn't a novel in any conventional sense, but a fictional history of the deep future of humanity. It describes the evolution of our distant descendants into ever-more bizarre forms as they navigate through epochal upheavals, interplanetary wars, and cosmic catastrophes for billions (yes, billions) of years to come. Olaf Stapledon possessed one of the most powerful imaginations I’ve ever encountered. Last And First Men is ingenious, arresting at times, and always splendidly stra Last and First Men isn't a novel in any conventional sense, but a fictional history of the deep future of humanity. It describes the evolution of our distant descendants into ever-more bizarre forms as they navigate through epochal upheavals, interplanetary wars, and cosmic catastrophes for billions (yes, billions) of years to come. Olaf Stapledon possessed one of the most powerful imaginations I’ve ever encountered. Last And First Men is ingenious, arresting at times, and always splendidly strange. I can't deny that I also found it dull for stretches, a real grind to get all the way through. The many good parts, however, and especially the explosive finale more than compensated for the occasional tedium. Even with its imperfections, I think it’s fair to call this book a masterpiece.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

    I just couldn't get through this book. maybe one day I'll try again...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bill FromPA

    Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon 1937 (Read in February 2011) This novel is narrated by an anonymous Englishman who one midnight climbs a hill behind his house to look at the stars and finds his consciousness transported from the earth far out into the galaxy. The journey ultimately takes the narrator through the entire galaxy and across eons of time from the birth of the universe to the final dying out of its last living creatures. Stapledon imagines enough worlds, beings, and events to fill scores Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon 1937 (Read in February 2011) This novel is narrated by an anonymous Englishman who one midnight climbs a hill behind his house to look at the stars and finds his consciousness transported from the earth far out into the galaxy. The journey ultimately takes the narrator through the entire galaxy and across eons of time from the birth of the universe to the final dying out of its last living creatures. Stapledon imagines enough worlds, beings, and events to fill scores of more traditional SF novels, and enough cosmological speculation to provide dogmas for a dozen religions. One imagined cosmos particularly struck me: In one inconceivably complex cosmos, whenever a creature was faced with several possible courses of action, it took them all, thereby creating many distinct temporal dimensions and distinct histories of the cosmos. Since in every evolutionary sequence of the cosmos there were very many creatures, and each was constantly faced with many possible courses, and the combinations of all their courses were innumerable, an infinity of distinct universes exfoliated from every moment of every temporal sequence in this cosmos. -Chapter 15, The Maker and His Works I’ve seen this idea used in many subsequent works of SF, but this may be the earliest reference to the idea I’ve encountered. What impressed me at this moment about this passage was that I have within the past week heard the idea presented not as SF but as a serious scientific concept. The narrative is structured in a way such that the focus of the narrator takes in larger and larger areas of the galaxy and vaster periods of time. The first world visited is “the Other Earth”, as its name suggests a planet similar to our own and home to the civilization of “the Other Men”, humanoid creatures who are nevertheless distinctly alien in appearance and biology. This is the only section in which the author focuses on actual individuals of an alien world. As more worlds are visited, the focus is carefully broadened, first describing a wide variety of intelligent life forms, then collections of worlds, and moving continuously outward to the point that, near the end of the book, the narrator’s vision takes in the entire galaxy in its birth and death. The portions of the book where Stapledon positions his narrator to witness and describe astronomical events are reminiscent of Kepler’s Somnium, but for the most part the writing is in the utopian mode, describing the structure of societies and contemplating, as seems the theme of most utopian writing, the relationship of the individual to the collective. The final sections are written as a kind of religious vision where the narrator encounters, to the slight extent that seems to be all that is possible for a human consciousness, the titular Start Maker, a creator of cosmoses who, as far as I can see, is indistinguishable from God. Stapledon’s is not a book to be read quickly. Ideas are tightly packed together and the prose often doubles back on itself, re-stating and qualifying past statements, as if struggling to describe things beyond the full comprehension of the human sensorium. That this rather thorny prose is a conscious artistic choice rather than a weakness of style becomes obvious in the final chapter where, returned to his midnight hill, the narrator imagines a rapid trip around the earth, presented in imagery that is precise and evocative and prose that has a noble forward moving rhythm. I have known of this book by reputation for a long time and have felt in some vague way intimidated by it without having read it. Most commentators note the features I mentioned above, concentrating on the vastness of the vision and the fecundity of the imagination. Quoted passages tend to dwell above all on the visionary and the cosmic. But there are other elements in this book that I have not seen discussed and which I would like to mention in order to give a fuller impression of my experience of the book. Despite its all-encompassing vision, this is also in large part a book of its time. The shadow of the coming worldwide conflict colors the crises Stapledon imagines his alien civilizations facing; the various social organizations he imagines, for all the strangeness of their constituents, can be seen to have definite elements of contemporary Fascism, Soviet Communism and various democracies of the 1930s. Like the majority of utopian writers I’ve encountered, Stapledon’s ideal society seems to be largely a Communistic one, although by no means of the nature of the Soviet Union. In the first third of the book there are also elements of satire, reminiscent in some ways of Gulliver’s Travels. I chose two quotes from these early sections to give potential readers some idea of these features which most critics do not mention:In this world, as in our own, nearly all the chief means of production, nearly all the land, mines, factories, railways, ships, were controlled for private profit by a small minority of the population. These privileged individuals were able to force the masses to work for them on pain of starvation. The tragic farce inherent in such a system was already approaching. The owners directed the energy of the workers increasingly toward the production of more means of production rather than to the fulfillment of the needs of individual life. For machinery might bring profit to the owners; bread would not. With the increasing competition of machine with machine, profits declined, and therefore wages, and therefore effective demand for goods. Marketless products were destroyed, though bellies were unfed and backs unclad. Unemployment, disorder, and stem repression increased as the economic system disintegrated. A familiar story! As conditions deteriorated, and the movements of charity and state-charity became less and less able to cope with the increasing mass of unemployment and destitution, the new pariah-race became more and more psychologically useful to the hate-needs of the scared, but still powerful, prosperous. The theory was spread that these wretched beings were the result of secret systematic race-pollution by riff-raff immigrants, and that they deserved no consideration whatever. They were therefore allowed only the basest forms of employment and the harshest conditions of work. When unemployment had become a serious social problem, practically the whole pariah stock was workless and destitute. It was of course easily believed that unemployment, far from being due to the decline of capitalism, was due to the worthlessness of the pariahs. - Chapter 3, The Other Earth In civilized regions the super-tribes and the overgrown natural tribes created an astounding mental tyranny. In relation to his natural tribe, at least if it was small and genuinely civilized, the individual might still behave with intelligence and imagination. Along with his actual tribal kinsmen he might support a degree of true community unknown on Earth. He might in fact be a critical, self-respecting and other-respecting person. But in all matters connected with the super-tribes, whether national or economic, he behaved in a very different manner. All ideas coming to him with the sanction of nation or class would be accepted uncritically and with fervor by himself and all his fellows. As soon as he encountered one of the symbols or slogans of his super-tribe he ceased to be a human personality and became a sort of de-cerebrate animal, capable only of stereotyped reactions. In extreme cases his mind was absolutely closed to influences opposed to the suggestion of the super-tribe. Criticism was either met with blind rage or actually not heard at all. Persons who in the intimate community of their small native tribe were capable of great mutual insight and sympathy might suddenly, in response to tribal symbols, be transformed into vessels of crazy intolerance and hate directed against national or class enemies. In this mood they would go to any extreme of self-sacrifice for the supposed glory of the super-tribe. Also they would show great ingenuity in contriving means to exercise their lustful vindictiveness upon enemies who in favorable circumstances could be quite as kindly and intelligent as themselves. -Chapter 5, Worlds Innumerable

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ryan James

    I have only read the first book of this compilation "Last and First Men". I'll probably come back to "Starmaker" but my original intent was to read the former. I came to wanting to read this after watching Johann Johannson's film based on the book "Last and First Men". It was his directorial debut and tragically, the only film he directed before his untimely death. He has been one of my favorite contemporary composers of his generation and the film was gorgeously shot on film with a grainy black I have only read the first book of this compilation "Last and First Men". I'll probably come back to "Starmaker" but my original intent was to read the former. I came to wanting to read this after watching Johann Johannson's film based on the book "Last and First Men". It was his directorial debut and tragically, the only film he directed before his untimely death. He has been one of my favorite contemporary composers of his generation and the film was gorgeously shot on film with a grainy black and white study of various concrete, ancient, and abstract forms of architecture. This imagery was coupled with a brilliant, original composition of his along with a narration using various excerpts from the book by Tilda Swinton. This combination of audio/visual experience was awe inspiring and made me want to read the original text. I quickly found out the film was an EXTREME distillation of the original work. That being said, it was an incredible version and set the bar for all stories telling of the future histories of human kind. Through 18 iterations of human kind, spreading millions and billions of years, the book speaks of all the climaxes and declines of Man's journey to its ultimate annihilation. I really enjoyed the book, I took my time to read it because it's broken down into phases of humanity and the sub chapters of the intriguing aspects of each iteration of man. It was slow at parts but intentionally so as the progression of man ebbed and flowed, sometimes sinking to near extinction or a dark age to enlightenment and soaring to golden ages only to succumb to its excess and fall to reform again. It's not a narrative and there are no characters besides humanity and the conciousness of the Last Men speaking through time to the First Men. It reads much like a history than story which is different but enjoyably unique. Definitely recommended if you enjoy world building in the SF genre as almost all authors drew or were indirectly influenced by this pioneering work.

  9. 4 out of 5

    P.S. Winn

    Interesting early science fiction writer that incorporates the life and actions of humanity we know with that which we don't. This is a double collection. Each of the books is available separately too.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rahul Kanakia

    There's really nothing else quite like this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Carlos Gomes

    A somewhere between good and very good sci-fi. Give it a chance.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lukerik

    Last and First Men This is one of those books that changed me a bit. The opening's very interesting with its mix of naïvety and wisdom, so he correctly predicts the rise of the EU, but gets the US's reaction wrong (so far). He correctly predicts a second European war, the existence of DNA and it's manipulation, atomic power and the global spread of American culture. And funny too, like the "Gawd 'elp us" bit and the delayed punchline. And the passage about the Negro dancers. I was about to become Last and First Men This is one of those books that changed me a bit. The opening's very interesting with its mix of naïvety and wisdom, so he correctly predicts the rise of the EU, but gets the US's reaction wrong (so far). He correctly predicts a second European war, the existence of DNA and it's manipulation, atomic power and the global spread of American culture. And funny too, like the "Gawd 'elp us" bit and the delayed punchline. And the passage about the Negro dancers. I was about to become an apologist for him but it turns into a sharp satire on poor race relations. But when time starts telescoping and again and again he strikes these magisterial notes as man is reduced to microscopic insignificance and we're just tremors in the opening bars of the music... It just made me realise how inadequate we are with our wars and prejudices, and how embarrassing it would be if future human species could look back at us, or if aliens turned up now, they'd be like, "What ARE you doing?" And the influence on later sf is obvious. Childhood's End, Dune and Hothouse spring to mind. I would imagine those chapters that didn't remind me of anything have simply inspired books I haven't read yet. Star Maker Very clever writing. The opening is a case in point, where you don't know if you're reading science fiction or apocalyptic literature and he plays intellectual games with you. There's so much variety and satire and his imagination is just so fertile. The problem for me was the middle section of the book. In Last Men you have forwards narrative drive and a clear protagonist. Here, there is no clear protagonist and the unnamed narrator jumps around in time. I realise Stapledon has done this for artistic reasons, but as a reader it doesn't half make reading it bloody difficult. It degenerates into a series of articles of varying levels of interest and it was a real struggle for me to keep going. Which is a shame as the ending is very well done. It's worth ploughing on to get to it as you come full circle back to revelation.

  13. 4 out of 5

    C Miller

    One of the first SF books I read. OS was just inducted into the SF Hall of Fame (according to Wikipedia) in 2014. And with good reason. His writing is really like no other. This book is comprised of two stories (novellas?). The first one was my favorite. Last and First Men basically takes the reader on the journey through 18 different speciations (evolutions?) of humanity from the current time to about 2 billion years in the future. He wrote the story in 1930. An amazing story that needs to be r One of the first SF books I read. OS was just inducted into the SF Hall of Fame (according to Wikipedia) in 2014. And with good reason. His writing is really like no other. This book is comprised of two stories (novellas?). The first one was my favorite. Last and First Men basically takes the reader on the journey through 18 different speciations (evolutions?) of humanity from the current time to about 2 billion years in the future. He wrote the story in 1930. An amazing story that needs to be read to be understood and appreciated.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tommy

    It's really interesting reading a future history written in the 1930's that stretches so far into the future across the entire galaxy. Both works go well together as a set as Last and First Men is Earthcentric while Star Maker focuses on the rest of the galaxy with allusions to Earth and things that happened in Last and First Men along the way. Expansive hardly begins to describe the timeline this work tackles. The vision and creativity is certainly interesting yet it could also be rather slow at It's really interesting reading a future history written in the 1930's that stretches so far into the future across the entire galaxy. Both works go well together as a set as Last and First Men is Earthcentric while Star Maker focuses on the rest of the galaxy with allusions to Earth and things that happened in Last and First Men along the way. Expansive hardly begins to describe the timeline this work tackles. The vision and creativity is certainly interesting yet it could also be rather slow at times. Comparing Stapledon's timeline of human and alien evolution to how things have changed with the use of computers, smart phones, airplanes, etc. proved interesting to me. Some of the things he predicts have certainly come to fruition in one way or another and often much faster than he predicted. This is interesting to consider in connection with the many downfalls/extinctions he writes about as well. Could those happen sooner too? And can humanity overcome or adapt or not? Thought provoking for sure.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Vernon Goddard

    Have to agree with all of your comments. I first read this when I was younger and it did blow my mind. The range over time and the scope of the work is enormous. The imaginative focus on man's possibility through the universe and beyond is something enthralling and spectacular. I would have every child in Primary school read this work for its prospect of what is possible for human kind. But it is both pessimistic as well as hopeful and some of the "forecasts" for various Empires and people are qu Have to agree with all of your comments. I first read this when I was younger and it did blow my mind. The range over time and the scope of the work is enormous. The imaginative focus on man's possibility through the universe and beyond is something enthralling and spectacular. I would have every child in Primary school read this work for its prospect of what is possible for human kind. But it is both pessimistic as well as hopeful and some of the "forecasts" for various Empires and people are quite dire. So not a book for the Hollywood film-makers!!!!!!!!

  16. 5 out of 5

    John Jr.

    Any writer who contributed an idea to Freeman Dyson ought to be considered in discussions of important (or "great") science fiction, yet I find that Olaf Stapledon is frequently omitted from American lists of that kind, just as Stanislaw Lem is. Assuming the SFE entry on Stapledon to be correct, Last and First Men covers a timescale of two billion years and Star Maker ranges across 100 billion. That makes these the most far-ranging future histories I've ever read. But that's faint praise, and the Any writer who contributed an idea to Freeman Dyson ought to be considered in discussions of important (or "great") science fiction, yet I find that Olaf Stapledon is frequently omitted from American lists of that kind, just as Stanislaw Lem is. Assuming the SFE entry on Stapledon to be correct, Last and First Men covers a timescale of two billion years and Star Maker ranges across 100 billion. That makes these the most far-ranging future histories I've ever read. But that's faint praise, and they deserve something much more appreciative. I'll say only that these works were eye-opening for me and groundbreaking for the field of SF, and that the mists of time haven't obscured all of the inventions in Star Maker, which I read decades ago. The SFE entry linked above gives a fine critical overview of all of Stapledon's work and explains my remark about Dyson.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Last and First Men: It's much easier to appreciate this as a piece of history, or inspiration to world-builders than a sci-fi novel. The attempt to explore various philosophies through the evolution of man shows promise, and Stapledon covers some great ideas that show up again in later sci-fi. It's easy to forgive the dated assumptions of the future, but not the dragging narrative and repetition. There are only a handful of characters in the entire book and they aren't given names or more than a Last and First Men: It's much easier to appreciate this as a piece of history, or inspiration to world-builders than a sci-fi novel. The attempt to explore various philosophies through the evolution of man shows promise, and Stapledon covers some great ideas that show up again in later sci-fi. It's easy to forgive the dated assumptions of the future, but not the dragging narrative and repetition. There are only a handful of characters in the entire book and they aren't given names or more than a page or two of existence. The book strikes me as the work an author might do in evolving a sci-fi setting and then collapse into a few pages of exposition. It would probably work in it's current, essay form if it was more concise. Star Maker: It's still incredibly dry, but the ever increasing scope of time, space, and consciousness build momentum in a way that the cycles of Last and First Men never did. A much better canvas for Stapledon's many excellent ideas.

  18. 5 out of 5

    James

    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 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. They remain two of my favorite classics from my teen years of science fiction reading.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chadwick

    Having read The Last and First Men and finding that Star Maker was basically more of the same, I ended up stopping half-way through. The scope of these novels is large, no doubt, but that doesn't make them all that enjoyable to read. When the science is about as soft as soft gets and the narrative gives you next to no reason to give a shit, the reading just becomes a chore. Further, the ending of TLAFM was nothing but new-age one-mind universal consciousness bullshit. As an analogy, it could be Having read The Last and First Men and finding that Star Maker was basically more of the same, I ended up stopping half-way through. The scope of these novels is large, no doubt, but that doesn't make them all that enjoyable to read. When the science is about as soft as soft gets and the narrative gives you next to no reason to give a shit, the reading just becomes a chore. Further, the ending of TLAFM was nothing but new-age one-mind universal consciousness bullshit. As an analogy, it could be said that Stapledon makes an admirable job of laying the foundations of decent world-building, but he does altogether too much handwaving once the actual hammer, nails, and planks are put in his hands and the structural integrity of the whole building suffers for it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    J. McClain

    Although both books are not what I'd call "novels", of the two, Last and First Men is a more difficult read in that it's more a detailed timeline of humankind's future than anything, and the initial decades of "the future" start from Stapledon's time of writing in the 1930s, and most of his prognostications didn't come to pass. It doesn't help the potential for verisimilitude of the remainder of the timeline. Star Maker is a more interesting story, with a larger scope, and thus more room for the Although both books are not what I'd call "novels", of the two, Last and First Men is a more difficult read in that it's more a detailed timeline of humankind's future than anything, and the initial decades of "the future" start from Stapledon's time of writing in the 1930s, and most of his prognostications didn't come to pass. It doesn't help the potential for verisimilitude of the remainder of the timeline. Star Maker is a more interesting story, with a larger scope, and thus more room for the reader to find an entrance to what's going on. Four stars for Star Maker, three for Last and First Men, now go read Sirius, which is still by far my favorite of Stapledon's works.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Peter McQueeny

    Haven't been able to finish it. Maybe I will some day, but ten minutes of this book is better than any sleeping pill. It's crammed with interesting ideas and settings, but without characters and real-time scenes it's pretty hard to get more than mildly interested. Reading this book is like reading the Wikipedia synopses of eight hundred movies in a row. Or like reading a history textbook, which I suppose was the intention. My attention span is just a little too 21st century for this. If that mak Haven't been able to finish it. Maybe I will some day, but ten minutes of this book is better than any sleeping pill. It's crammed with interesting ideas and settings, but without characters and real-time scenes it's pretty hard to get more than mildly interested. Reading this book is like reading the Wikipedia synopses of eight hundred movies in a row. Or like reading a history textbook, which I suppose was the intention. My attention span is just a little too 21st century for this. If that makes me a philistine, so be it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Clare Bell

    Read Star Maker yet again. I used it as source material for a Creating Realistic Animal Characters workshop at Anthrocon 2010. Written in the 1930's-1940's and still mind-blazingly brilliant. I have lost count of all the times I have pored over this book. Stapledon's novel Sirius: A Tale of Love and Discord, was a direct inspiration for my Ratha prehistoric cat series.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    I read these back-to-back oh... ten years ago maybe. I keep meaning to go back to them. I remember feeling that they were awfully similar, and that maybe taking a break between them would have been a better idea. I'm still haunted by a couple phases in the evolution of humans, and the opening of one of them, in the early night, overlooking a rural human landscape is very effective.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mark Adri-soejoko

    Interesting with an older more formal and florid writing style that took me a while to get used to and philosophical beliefs ideas that are in some ways rather disturbing or uncomfortable and in other ways amusingly archaic for a 21st century reader. Can't say I liked it on an emotional level but I can see why it is referred to as a classic.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Hassan

    Read this in college as part of a History of Science course. Two novels, in the old-school sci-fi tradition, that consider (in genuine sincerity) the future evolution of mankind, throughout the next several thousand generations. An epic, speculative, brilliant and confusing work.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bart Everson

    Two incredible science fiction epics under one volume. You can't go wrong. Unless of course you are looking for action-adventure. These read like profound philosophical treatises. But they are mind-blowing.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    Very dry and hard to read, but rewarding in that I feel enriched by my exposure to the imaginings of this total nerd from the 30s. Glad I read it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    These two novels are both dated, but their scope of imagination remains amazing.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    Although having great respect for the author, his politics and some of his fiction, I found these two ambitious books as unreadable as a timeline or chronological list.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I could not get through this. I wish that I could give it a better review -- but augh, it is just too boring. I would read it while pooping and that didn't even make it bearable. Sorry, Stapledon.

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