Star Maker - The Books of Olaf Stapledon

Creation of a Star

The University of Adelaide Library has made the books of influential science fiction writer/philosopher Olaf Stapledon freely available from their website, and in a number of formats (ePub, Kindle, web-view). There's some wonderful, foundational themes in Stapledon's writing, and plenty of the type of deep thinking we like to do here at TDG:

Stapledon's writings directly influenced Arthur C. Clarke, Brian Aldiss, Stanislaw Lem, C. S. Lewis and John Maynard Smith and indirectly influenced many others, contributing many ideas to the world of science fiction. The "supermind" composed of many individual consciousnesses forms a recurring theme in his work. Star Maker contains the first known description of what are now called Dyson spheres. Freeman Dyson credits the novel with giving him the idea. Last and First Men features early descriptions of genetic engineering and terraforming. Sirius describes a dog whose intelligence is increased to the level of a human being's.

Stapledon's fiction often presents the strivings of some intelligence that is beaten down by an indifferent universe and its inhabitants who, through no fault of their own, fail to comprehend its lofty yearnings. It is filled with protagonists who are tormented by the conflict between their "higher" and "lower" impulses.

Olaf Stapledon eBook Library

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alanborky's picture
Member since:
29 January 2009
Last activity:
7 weeks 5 days

Apart from pointing out Greg Olaf Stapledon was born on the opposite side of the Mersey to Liverpool [on the Wirral Peninsula in fact specified in medieval Italian Arthurian mythology as an access point to the Grail Realm and I suggest etymologically related to the ancient British equivalent of the Tao the Weird] let me point out to those who don't know it his books're filled with Gurdjieff-like ideas to the effect suns/stars're sentient and're in turn organs in still greater organisms like galaxies and ultimately the entire perpetually evolving universe of matter.

His ideas cetainly cast an unusual light on anomalies such as the recent highly surprising discovery the massive Andromeda galaxy's being circumnavigated in a highly organised 'dance' by nearly thirty other smaller galaxies.

Olaf Stapledon I suggest's the one person who wouldn't've been surprised to learn fairy rings even exist at the galactic level.

purrlgurrl's picture
Member since:
21 June 2008
Last activity:
17 hours 34 min

Thanks so much for posting the link. Some of Stapleton's work is hard to find. I've been on a wait list at our local library for Starmaker for almost a year. Now I can take myself off the list so someone else can get the book sooner. Here's a big air kiss coming your way.

qraal's picture
Member since:
21 February 2006
Last activity:
2 days 8 hours

Dr. Greg Matloff, co-author of "The Starflight Handbook" and interstellar-propulsion guru (he literally wrote THE BOOK on the topic, and its sequel, "Deep Space Probes") has suggested, based on Stapledon's ideas, that the rapid motion of stars normally attributed to dark matter, might actually be due to stellar telekinesis...

http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=23203

[PS I reviewed his paper in preprint form before it came out, so I am slightly biased.]

A more recent speculation on the "Life of Stars" is the suggestion by Clement Vidal (in his book "The Beginning & the End") that active binary systems, involving a normal star and a degenerate star (i.e. white dwarf, neutron, or collapsed, star) might show signs of intelligent activities. Whether such a system is a singular organism or merely hosts an alien civilization is a matter of perspective - are the cells of our bodies individuals or a greater whole?

The Universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it's stranger than we CAN imagine.

qraal's picture
Member since:
21 February 2006
Last activity:
2 days 8 hours

A more recent discussion by Greg of his ideas is at Baen SF...

http://www.baen.com/starsconscious.asp

...was my privilege to meet Greg at the 100 Year Starship Florida event in 2011.

The Universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it's stranger than we CAN imagine.