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Star Maker (1937)

by Olaf Stapledon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Last Men (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,2582810,575 (3.81)61
This 1937 successor to Last and First Men offers another entrancing speculative history of the future. Cited as a key influence by science-fiction masters such as Doris Lessing, its bold exploration of the cosmos ventures into intelligent star clusters and mingles among alien races for a memorable vision of infinity.… (more)
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» See also 61 mentions

English (25)  French (2)  Finnish (1)  All languages (28)
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Wow. Just wow. This novel disproves the general assumption that golden age SF is either hokey or unscientific.

In fact, it starts out like a strong hard-SF exploration novel touching on many possible alien races, mindsets, and physiologies, but it dives right down the rabbit hole into vast combined telepathic minds, galactic societies that actually are GALACTIC in scale, telepathic communication with multiple galaxies, and even to the discovery the rich stellar intelligence. That's right. Intelligent suns.

And an ever further exploration follows. This is a short novel that spans 5 billion years! It may be fast, glorious, imaginative, and deeply philosophical, but more than that, it's SUBVERSIVE.

Let me be clear on this. This novel is just as valid and fun today as it must have been back in 1937. More than that, it's probably something that would be appreciated more NOW than way back then.

Why? The Star Maker is the creation of God from Man. And even better, it even flies right into Manichean heresies! :) As HARD SF! It's fast as hell and fun as HELL! :)

Olaf Stapledon is easily one of the most brilliant and imaginative writers to have ever decided to use hard-SF as a furious vehicle of massive speculative philosophy in sociology, biology, physics, and cosmology. Was he a brilliant man? What do you think?

I can't get my jaw to stop dropping. I'm not even giving it special props for coming out of 1937. It's as good as any of the most vast-spanning hard-SF of today.

Come blow your mind! :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
No. Not imaginative, not well done, not nearly good enough. Like the best creative writing exercise you will ever see, with the clever student lavishing on the stale meanderings to date the piece.

Culturally antediluvian. ( )
  GirlMeetsTractor | Mar 22, 2020 |
Somewhat depressing view that all things are whims of fancy of God and that most are not up to his standards. Human imperfections are given to all societies found.
( )
  LindaLeeJacobs | Feb 15, 2020 |
I really wanted to like this book. Classic sci-fi that everyone seems to agree is a great book that influenced so many of the best sci-fi writers out there. But I just found the entire thing tedious and boring.

In theory I should love this book, the story of a disembodied mind traveling through time and space to meet other lifeforms. But it was like reading an encyclopaedia, nothing but "facts" regurgitated with nothing to make you care about the individuals that made up each race.

Some of the reviews of this book make it seem like it's going to be full of intelligent, life changing prose, as if simple scope of time and distance is profound on it's own. But there wasn't anything deeper in this than the unknown narrator realizing how inevitable, universal, and pointless war is. There are plenty of other books, plenty of other sci-fi, that explore the same theme without putting you to sleep.

It gets two stars and not one because there were some parts of this I enjoyed near the beginning, before the boredom set in too much. ( )
  Fardo | Oct 15, 2019 |
I have the SF Masterwork edition of this book – that’s the one from the original numbered series – but that’s in storage now. I bought a 99p copy on my Kindle so I could read it. I’ve no idea if the two editions are the same – they can’t be that different, I’d have thought, since this isn’t a work that needed translating. But the copy I read certainly had more than its fair share of OCR errors and typos. There’s not much of a plot to review: the narrator is an Englishman of the 1930s who falls asleep on a hillside and becomes a disembodied galactic traveller, as you do. He visits various worlds, learns to cohabit the minds of certain of their inhabitants, and they too join him on his travels, until he is more of a gestalt intelligence than the man he once was. Stapledon describes the various types of civilisation his observer visits, and while they’re initially based on extrapolations of Earth biology – even the symbiotic races, which play such a great part in the book – but soon it transpires the stars are sentient, and then the galaxies too. This is sf on the grandest scale, and it’s unlikely it would wash these days because it only really works with a style that’s no longer commercially acceptable. It’s not that genre fiction of the past fifty years has been stunted in any way, or has held off from Stapledonian scales because he did it first – Stephen Baxter’s entire career is ample rebuttal to that – but more that the style which allowed Stapledon to what he did is no longer considered commercially viable. Is that a bad thing? Not really. We still have Stapledon. He’s in the SF Masterworks series, and his books are readily available in a variety of editions as ebooks. Obviously, these are, paradoxically, historical documents, but for those who know what they’re getting into, they’re definitely worth a go. ( )
1 vote iansales | Aug 1, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Olaf Stapledonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dollens, Morris ScottCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schlück, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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One night when I had tasted bitterness I went out on to the hill.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Nebula Maker is basically a first draft for Star Maker and is not the same work.
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