"To read him means taking a leap out from our provisional and temporary sets of mind into a realm that is beyond current notions of space and time, is somewhere in the future of mankind where we have, as a species, still to set foot."—Doris Lessing
"No other book had a greater influence on my life."—Arthur C. Clarke, on Last and First Men
"One of the early giants of science fiction, Stapledon is now almost entirely forgotten. The scope of his 'cosmic and philosophical romances'—Last and First Men, Last Men in London, Star Maker, Odd John, and Sirius can be off-putting (a novel encompassing the birth and death of the universe requires a certain commitment), and, frankly, he is hard to read. This reader extracts from his epical long works and reprints shorter pieces whole; arguably, the most important things in it are the essays, the speeches, and the letters that offer glimpses behind his public persona. In this nonfiction, we read Stapledon's genuine concern about humanity's future as well as about the dire yet hopeful time in which he lived. The characteristic mixture of grand vision and down-to-earth human concern afforded by this sampling is rare enough to distinguish him as a vital and important figure not only in the history of science fiction but in general twentieth-century literary history."—Booklist
Olaf Stapledon (1886-1950), philosopher, novelist, educator, and social activist had an imagination unlike that of any other figure in modernist literature. Along with H.G. Wells he is remembered as one of the most original and influential pioneers of twentieth-century science fiction.
This first broadly inclusive anthology of Stapledon’s work offers a generous sampling of his fictional gems, including sections of his best known novels, Last and First Men, Odd Men, and Star Maker, and the complete text of two novellas, now back in print for the first time in fifty years, The Flames and Old Man in New World, as well as a selection of other writings, some previously unpublished, including essays, poems, and letters.
These writings reveal the prophetic vision and utopian convictions that run through Stapledon’s work, and provide the broad context readers need to grasp the scope of his vision and to appreciate his great epic works, which are classics of science fiction.
About the Author
Robert Crossley, professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, is editor of Talking Across the World: The Love Letters of Olaf Stapledon and Agnes Miller, 1913-1919 and the author of Olaf Stapledon: Speaking for the Future, also published by Syracuse University Press.
6 x 9, 0 pages