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Star Maker [Paperback]

Olaf Stapledon
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 19 2008
This bold exploration of the cosmos ventures into intelligent star clusters and mingles among alien races for a memorable vision of infinity. Cited as a key influence by science-fiction masters such as Doris Lessing, this classic has left its mark not only in modern literature but also in the fields of social anthropology and philosophy.
Olaf Stapledon's 1937 successor to Last and First Men offers another entrancing speculative history of the future. Its narrator, a contemporary Earthman, joins a community of explorers who travel to the farthest reaches of the universe, seeking traces of intelligence. Along the way, they encounter nautiloid water beings, races of hyperspiders and hyperfish, composite group intelligences, plantlike creatures, and other strange life forms. Their dramatic voyage unfolds against a backdrop of life-and-death struggles on a cosmic scale.

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Product Description


"A buried treasure of 20th century literature reemerges in this splendid and practical edition. McCarthy's revealing introduction and notes display the genius of Star Maker to a new century." -- Robert Crossley, author of Olaf Stapledon: Speaking for the Future --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


“A buried treasure of 20th century literature reemerges in this splendid and practical edition. McCarthy’s revealing introduction and notes display the genius of Star Maker to a new century.” (Robert Crossley, author of Olaf Stapledon: Speaking for the Future) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book For Any Time April 29 2010
By Dave_42 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
"Star Maker", by Olaf Stapledon, is an incredible novel by an author whose contributions to science fiction are unique and serve as inspiration to many of the greatest works in the field. It was Stapledon's fourth novel and was first published in 1937. Narrated by the same voice as narrated "Last and First Men" the novel is a sequel of sorts, but at the same time it has a much larger scope and thus there is no noticeable overlap between the two novels. As with "Last and First Men", "Star Maker" is not a conventional novel, so if that is what you are looking for, you should look elsewhere. It is a philosophical journey rather than a conventional story with a traditional plot and characters.

The narrator takes the reader on a journey through the universe and through time, starting on a hill near his home, and ultimately finding the creator of the universe, i.e. the Star Maker. He witnesses the entire life of the universe, and joins with many other minds from other civilizations throughout the galaxy. It is tempting to use phrases like "for its time" when describing this book, but it is a remarkable work for any time. I am sure that some of descriptions of civilizations and their scientific achievements would change if it were written today. However, the statement that the book makes would likely remain the same.

One does not need to read "Last and First Men" (or "Last Men in London" for that matter) to read this novel. The few remarks made in the narration that reference "Last and First Men" will not cause the reader any difficulty. They pass by almost unnoticed, as the reader's focus is on the amazing scope and vision which are contained in this novel. Stapledon's works are not the easiest reads, but they are well worth the effort.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A classic in more than one way... May 26 2004
'Star Maker' by Olaf Stapledon is more about philosophy than about science fiction, but it has enough of both to make all kinds of fans happy. The author covers the history of, well, almost everything. He travels through space and time, back and forth, to explore everything from intelligent stars to the alien civilizations that rise ands fall, from simple plant-men to massive utopias. Always, he is also looking for the Star Maker, God, the Great Creator.
He even links this book to his first novel, 'Last And First Man', by talking about some periods in mankind's history, like the war with Mars. This book is all about scale. Yet while I enjoyed this book it didn't feel as well planned, as detailed as 'Last And First Man'. But I'm not sure a book of 272 pages could be said to be lacking in details. Its scope is vast and giving too many details might of limited it, framed it into too small a canvas. Olaf is using wide strokes of his huge brush to build this story.
With a forword by Brain Aldiss and a interesting glossary, I would suggest this book for both sci-fi fans, people looking for God in what seems like a godless universe and also people who just enjoy philosophy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Has anyone ever really thought this big? Nov. 9 2010
I have been interested in the world's many religions for a long time, as well as in science and particulary cosmology and astronomy, but I don't think I've ever come across someone who's thought quite so BIG before. Sure, the Hindus and Buddhists put a lot of zeroes after their timelines for everything, but one doesn't get the impression they really know what they mean. Sure, scientists describe the cosmos in terms of billions of light years - but what about beyond the cosmos, before and after?

Stapledon on the other hand seems to have thought out the life of this, and infinitely more, universes on a scale that reflects the way 'life' itself here on Earth plays out: that is, with incredible overabundance and waste, and yet with great elegance and beauty. On the old edition I have, there is a quote on the back by the scientist John Lilly reading, "The most influential book I have ever read." If I couldn't say the same for Lilly's own books, I might echo this statement.

One of the most incredible and intimidating ideas in this book is that even as massive galactic consciousnesses bond together to create minds infinitely beyond our own pitiful conceptions, 'they' still find themselves tiny fish in the enormous cosmic sea, and almost equally incapable of fathoming its design or purpose. For all those of us who think a single human monkey-mind can get some grasp on it all, either through scientific understanding or mystical experience, this is an extremely sobering and provocative thought.

One of my all-time favorite books and very highly recommended if you like to think big, and consider the place of humans and consciousness generally in the scheme of things.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars plodding July 17 2004
By A Customer
It's amazing to me that someone could call a book first published nearly a half-century after "The Time Machine" and five years after "Brave New World" "EARLY [my emphasis] fiction". Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" is an "early classic of science fiction", although, for that matter, the great astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler wrote a science fiction story about a voyage to the moon four centuries ago. Any way you slice it, however, science fiction had become a continuous tradition in the 1890's with H. G. Wells, and it is absurd to call a science fiction book published four to five decades later "early".
So much for "early"; now about "classic": For a work to be classic it has to be (at least) 1) very good and 2) WIDELY recognized in its own time. You can have your own opinion about 1) as far as "Star Maker" is concerned, but you can't reasonably argue that it meets criterium 2).
P. S.: Amazon's biographical blurb above is not quite accurate:
>After spending eighteen months working in a shipping office in Liverpool and Port Said, he lectured extramurally for Liverpool University in English Literature and industrial history.
Actually, after (and before) leaving the Blue Funnel Line and while teaching at Manchester Grammar School, Stapledon lectured evenings in the Liverpool area for the Workers Educational Association, NOT for Liverpool University.
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