Remembering Olaf Stapledon

by Paul Gilster on January 23, 2005

“Sooner or later for good or ill, a united mankind, equipped with science and power, will probably turn its attention to the other planets, not only for economic exploitation, but also as possible homes for man… The goal for the solar system would seem to be that it should become an interplanetary community of very diverse worlds … each contributing to the common experience its characteristic view of the universe. Through the pooling of this wealth of experience, through this “commonwealth of worlds,” new levels of mental and spiritual development should become possible, levels at present quite inconceivable to man.”

– Olaf Stapledon, in a 1948 address to the British Interplanetary Society.

Centauri Dreams note: Both C. S. Lewis and Arthur C. Clarke have acknowledged their debt to Stapledon, the British philosopher and science fiction writer whose Last and First Men (1930) and Starmaker (1937) project the human story forward into the remotest of futures. For myth-making, philosophical reflection, theological insight and speculative science on the grand scale, Stapledon should not be missed.

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