Olaf Stapledon

hegg

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I'm a very big Stapledon fan. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that Starmaker is my favourite SF novel of all time. Closely followed by Last and First Men..

I always go on and on about LAFM to people when they'll listen, and recently a friend read through it as a result. He really liked it, and asked a question that now I'm quite curious about. Has anybody ever seen any artists impressions of the different versions of 'men' from the book?

The cover for the Penguin Classic SF version is the only one that I've found which has attempted to draw some of them. This one here. But there are only a few on show.

Was just wondering if any other Stapledon fans might have seen anything like this on their travels? Seems like it would be a really interesting art project and I'd be surprised if nobody has ever thought to tackle it.
 

hitmouse

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Never really thought about visual representation. The only copy of LAFM I have ever owned is an early Pelican version I pinched from my grandfather's library in the 1970s. Classic blue and white cover with no illustration.
 
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Zendexor

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I have read Last and First Men, Star Maker, Odd John, and Sirius. All remarkable works of astonishing imagination. I have also read his uncompleted work "Four Encounters," which is not science fiction (and hardly fiction at all) but which offers a great deal of insight into his thought.

Apparently "Four Encounters" was supposed to be "Ten Encounters" but the author died before it could be finished. In any case, it consists of four character studies -- a Christian, a scientist, a mystic, and a revolutionary -- in which the narrator discusses the beliefs of each. The feeling I got from "Four Encounters" was that Stapledon was the ultimate agnostic; not just on religious questions, but on philosophical and political matters as well. He is willing to listen to each of the four, but makes no final judgment on any of them. It would have been fascinating to read six more of these encounters.
Also there is Nebula Maker (a kind of prequel to Star Maker) and The Flames (about intelligences from the Sun). Plus the (semi autobiographical, so I'm told) Last Men in London, which has some more material about the Neptunian Last Men.
 

Extollager

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So, one should start with Last and First Men if one's new to Stapledon?
 

Venusian Broon

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So, one should start with Last and First Men if one's new to Stapledon?
I did and it made me the man I am today :).

Starmaker
expands on what happens way, way out there - greatly - so if you were to read Starmaker first it would feel a step down to read Last and First Men after that. IMO
 

Stephen Palmer

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An old friend of mine, who died many years ago, knew Stapledon - the one-novel SF author James England. I forget now the circumstances of how he knew Stapledon, I think it was something to with his lecture tours. Not much of a story, admittedly, but I only just recalled it...
 
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