Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future

Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future

by Olaf Stapledon

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Overview

Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future is a "future history" science fiction novel written in 1930 by the British author Olaf Stapledon. A work of unprecedented scale in the genre, it describes the history of humanity from the present onwards across two billion years and eighteen distinct human species, of which our own is the first and most primitive. Stapledon's conception of history is based on the Hegelian Dialectic, following a repetitive cycle with many varied civilizations rising from and descending back into savagery over millions of years, but it is also one of progress, as the later civilizations rise to far greater heights than the first. The book anticipates the science of genetic engineering, and is an early example of the fictional supermind; a consciousness composed of many telepathically-linked individuals.

A controversial part of the book depicts humans, in the far-off future, escaping the dying Earth and settling on Venus - in the process totally exterminating its native inhabitants, an intelligent marine species. Stapledon's book has been interpreted by some as condoning such interplanetary genocide as a justified act if necessary for racial survival, though a number of Stapledon's partisans denied that such was his intention, arguing instead that Stapledon was merely showing that although mankind had advanced in a number of ways in the future, at bottom it still possessed the same capacity for savagery as it has always had.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781618950468
Publisher: Bibliotech Press
Publication date: 02/03/2012
Pages: 238
Sales rank: 379,302
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.54(d)

About the Author

William Olaf Stapledon (1886¿1950) was an English novelist and philosopher whose "histories of the future" are a major influence on contemporary science fiction. He received a Ph.D. in philosophy and psychology. In 1929, he published A Modern Theory of Ethics and seemed destined for an academic career. However, after the success of his novel Last and First Men, he turned to fiction. His popular books include The Last Men in London, Odd John, Philosophy and Living, Star Maker, and Sirius.

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