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Olaf Stapledon Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Last and First Men (1930)Description / Buy at Amazon
Last Men in London (1932)Description / Buy at Amazon
Odd John (1935)Description / Buy at Amazon
Star Maker (1937)Description / Buy at Amazon
Darkness and the Light (1942)Description / Buy at Amazon
Old Man in New World (1944)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord (1944)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death into Life (1946)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Man Divided (1950)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Opening of the Eyes (1954)Description / Buy at Amazon
Four Encounters (1976)Description / Buy at Amazon
Nebula Maker (1976)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

The Seed and the Flower (1916)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Flames (1947)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Modern Magician (1979)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

To the End of Time (1953)Description / Buy at Amazon
Nebula Maker & Four Encounters (1976)Description / Buy at Amazon
Far Future Calling (1979)Description / Buy at Amazon
An Olaf Stapledon Reader (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
Collected Stories (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Olaf Stapledon, Best Stories (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Talking Across the World (With: Agnes Miller) (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
Latter-Day Psalms (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon

About Olaf Stapledon

The British philosopher and science-fiction author Olaf Stapledon was highly regarded during his illustrious literary career. Becoming an inductee of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2014, his legacy has proven to be hugely important over the years. Publishing both fiction and non-fiction as well as works of poetry, he was a big influence on his many peers and contemporaries. Finding new readers and fans every day, his legacy continues to grow, finding larger audiences globally all the time.

Pioneering many major ideas in his writing, Stapledon has influenced a great deal, from philosophy to rich scientific concepts. Implementing a vast number of ideas, his work was truly inspirational, with film adaptations finding their way to the screen even. An advocate for peace as well, he would always remain true to his convictions, something which would clearly shine through in his writing. He would become a member of numerous organizations campaigning for peace, as well as becoming a lecturer and prominent thinker.

His novels are typically hugely ambitious, spanning across the stars taking in countless different ideas and concepts. There are a multitude of ideas across the page, often incorporating humanity in its entirety, giving the reader a clear sense of the true scope and scale of his imagination. Looking at the human race and everyone’s place within it collectively, he’d set a science-fiction template with his work for years to come. This legacy still continues to this very day, with more and more discovering his work all the time, as it’s not going away any time soon.

Early and Personal Life

Born on the 10th of May in 1886, he was born in Seacombe, Wallasey, in Cheshire on the Wirral Peninsula, before being raised for six years in Port Said, Egypt. Attending Abbotsholme School and then Balliol College, Oxford, he would gain a BA in Modern History in 1909, followed by an MA in 1913. Working for a period teaching at Manchester Grammar School, he would also work between Port Said and Liverpool in the shipping offices.

Driving with the Friends’ Ambulance Unit in France during the First World War and serving as a conscientious objector, he would receive a Croix de Guerre for his bravery. Gaining a PhD philosophy degree in 1925 from the University of Liverpool, he would marry Agnes Zena Miller in 1919 and they would have two children. Passing away in 1950 on the 6th of September, his would cremated remains would be scattered across the Dee Estuary cliffs in Liverpool by his wife and kids.

Writing Career

It was in 1929 that Olaf Stapledon would release his first book, which was a collection of prose titled ‘A Modern Theory of Ethics.’ A year later, in 1930, he would go on to release one of his most famous works to date, a science-fiction novel titled ‘Last and First Men,’ which contained an account of 18 successive species of humanity. The release of this novel would lead to him becoming one of the foremost figures within his field, revered by his contemporaries, from Jorge Luis Borges and Bertrand Russell, to Virginia Woolf and Winston Churchill.

Many of his peers would cite him as a primary influence, as he would go on to establish a legacy quite unlike any other. Many of his themes centered around the concept of a ‘supermind’ composed of individual consciousnesses, all making up the larger picture. Lecturing at the University of Liverpool, he would leave behind a powerful and important legacy that’s still recognized to this day.

Star Maker

First published in 1937, this would initially come out through the Methuen publishing imprint to much acclaim. A stand-alone work of science-fiction, it deals with massive philosophical themes and ideas, taking the reader on a journey across the stars. Many future iconic writers such as Arthur C. Clarke and Brian W. Aldiss would cite it as a huge inspiration in their own work and outlook.

While sitting atop a hill in English suburbia, a man is instantly transported out of his body into the cosmos, exploring the stars. Travelling to other planets and solar systems, he finds another planet similar to Earth and merges with the mind of an inhabitant, as they go on to travel the stars together. Picking up more individuals along the way, he makes his way with the rest of the minds towards the Star Maker to discover the truth of it all. Where will his journey take him next, who will he meet along the way, and what will become of the one known as the Star Maker?

This book is hugely ambitious in both scope and scale, bringing in a number of different ideas and concepts. Hugely imaginative, it’s easy to see why this book would become so massively influential in the following years to come. Combining the power of myths and dreams, it’s a greatly rewarding work to read, providing the reader with a deeper philosophical insight.

Last and First Men

Some may consider this the precursor to ‘Star Maker,’ which acted as a loose sequel to the concept and ideas of the novel. Initially released in 1930, it would come out through the Methuen publishing outlet, making a powerful mark on the science-fiction community. Read as a stand-alone novel, it would incorporate a huge range of ideas and philosophical concepts into its epic narrative.

Over the course of this story, humanity itself acts as the protagonist, as it’s seen evolving throughout the ages. Dealing with attacks from other planets, and ever increasing intelligence, the human race constantly hangs on the brink of extinction. Spanning from the present to over five billion years into the future, it charts the highs and lows that humanity faces as faces itself. Depicting the true scale of human imagination and endeavour, it really takes a look at everything from the last and first men.

It’s easy to see why so many famous authors have cited this book as one of their biggest inspirations, as it’s huge in its sense of scale. Capturing the entirety of humanity, it would also be made into an art-house film in 2020 by the composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. There’s so much to really appreciate here, and it doesn’t hold back on any of its intriguing ideas, really offering food for thought.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Olaf Stapledon

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