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.