Thursday, December 17, 2009

Olaf Stapledon: The Star Maker

Philosophy is supposed to be a series of footnotes to Plato. In the same way, the science fiction I have read might be said to be footnotes to Stapledon.

This is one of the most remarkable books I have ever read. Arthur C Clarke called it 'the most powerful work of imagination ever written.' Doris Lessing, nobel laureate, and Virginia Woolf heaped praise on it.

It isn't really a novel. It's essentially an overview of a person's experience becoming more and more aware of all the life in the universe, and of the Star Maker himself. As such, it works like Russian dolls in reverse: each succeeding vision is larger than the rest. You wonder where the inventiveness comes from. You wonder if he's ever going to stop. You wonder what he was on when he wrote this.

Finally there is an encounter with the Star Maker himself, which, amazingly, doesn't disappoint.
Truly a classic.