William Olaf Stapledon (May 10, 1886 – September 6, 1950) was a British philosopher and author of several influential works of science fiction.
Last and First Menby Olaf Stapledon
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Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future is a "future history" science fiction novel written in 1930 by the British author Olaf Stapledon. A work of unprecedented scale in the genre, it describes the history of humanity from the present onwards across two billion years and eighteen distinct human species, of which our own is the first and most primitive. Stapledon's conception of history is based on the Hegelian Dialectic, following a repetitive cycle with many varied civilizations rising from and descending back into savagery over millions of years, but it is also one of progress, as the later civilizations rise to far greater heights than the first. The book anticipates the science of genetic engineering, and is an early example of the fictional supermind; a consciousness composed of many telepathically-linked individuals.
In 1932, Stapledon followed Last and First Men with the far less acclaimed Last Men in London. His other great novel, Star Maker (1937), could also be considered a sequel to Last and First Men, but is even more ambitious in scope, being a history of the entire universe.
It is the 11th title in the SF Masterworks series.
- Rex Press (www.Rex-Press.com)
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In the Nook version, the "Chapters" function under the Content (Parallel Lines Icon) didn't work. I tried it on Simple Touch, HD+, and Nook for PC ). However, the Highlight and Book Mark features worked normally. The built in table of contents between the cover and page two took me to the correct locations on all three Nooks, but was hard to see on the Simple Touch display. I normally fail to see typos; but, a some cases of miss scanned letters did manage to catch my attention. I had not heard of Olaf Stephendon until I ran across a reference while reading Parallel Worlds by Micheo Kaku (An excellent book). Checking Olaf's background, I learned that he was a philosopher who wrote science fiction and that Last and First Man was first published in about 1930. It is an unfortunate temporal inconvenience that Olaf could not have Kaku's Parallel Worlds before writing Last and First Man; however, I enjoyed the seeing the difference 80 years of scientific investigation have made. I expected a slow moving protagonist-less book infused with philosophical perspective and was not disappointed. It raises many philosophical topics and resolves none; but seeds many thoughts to ruminate on while and after reading. I purchased a copy of Olaf's Star Maker at the same time. Having heard that Star Maker makes reference to things discussed in Last and First Man; I chose to read the, harder to find, and less famous book first. Last and First Man is pretty much like I expected. Having read it first will probably enhance my experience of reading the more famous Star Maker.