9780819566935 / 0819566934

Star Maker (Early Classics of Science Fiction)


Publisher:Wesleyan University Press



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About the book:

Brian Aldiss calls this 1937 SF classic "the most wonderful novel I have ever read", and its Millennium Masterworks reissue adds admiring remarks by Jorge Luis Borges, Arthur C Clarke, Doris Lessing, Virginia Woolf among others. Olaf Stapledon is better known for Last and First Men (1930), a sweeping history of the future whose early chapters are now embarrassing--but Star Maker leaps straight into a unfurling vision of infinity.

Looking at the starry night from an English hillside, the unnamed narrator is snatched from his earthly body and flung through space at impossible acceleration, soon outstripping light. He visits other stars, sees other worlds and alien races, a gallery of SF marvels in documentary rather than story form. (Some of this now seems over-familiar, however fresh and new in 1937: the book drags a little here.) Fellow disembodied intelligences from the galactic community join our hero, sensing something beyond mere matter and energy:

The felt presence of the Star Maker remained unintelligible, even though it increasingly illuminated the cosmos, like the splendour of the unseen sun at dawn.

But the godlike Star Maker is not exactly God, as we see when the scope expands beyond one mere universe to show an endless cycle of creations, many of them being crude and "immature" products of this experimenter's hand. Further "mature" creations follow, foreshadowing the Ultimate Cosmos whose crystalline perfection is not comforting but terrifying. Star Maker's final unsparing evocation of the deep chill of infinity has even been compared to Dante. --David Langford

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