Olaf Stapledon

From Academic Kids

William Olaf Stapledon (1886-1950) was a British philosopher and author of several influential works of science fiction.

Contents

Life & work

His work directly influenced Arthur C. Clarke, Brian Aldiss, Stanislaw Lem and John Maynard Smith and indirectly influenced countless others. Although his work predated the appearance of the word "transhuman" in 1966, the transhuman condition and superminds composed of many individual consciousnesses form recurring themes in his work. Star Maker also contained the first known description of Dyson spheres, and indeed Freeman Dyson credits this novel with giving him the idea. Last and First Men also featured something very like genetic engineering.

His fiction is characterised by a quest of intelligence that is beaten down by an indifferent universe. Last and First Men and Star Maker in particular were highly acclaimed by figures as diverse as Virginia Woolf and Winston Churchill, although their philosophy repelled C.S. Lewis, whose Cosmic Trilogy was written partly in response to them.

None of his novels or short stories have been filmed, although George Pal bought the rights to Odd John.

Together with his philosophy lectureship at the University of Liverpool (which now houses the Olaf Stapledon archive) he lectured in English literature, industrial history, psychology. He wrote several non-fiction books and some poetry.

During World War I he served with the Friends' Ambulance Unit, from 1915 to 1919. He was a committed pacifist. Increasingly, in later life, he became involved with socialism and was an early anti-apartheid campaigner.

Bibliography

Fiction

Non-fiction

  • A Modern Theory of Ethics: A study of the Relations of Ethics and Psychology (1929)
  • Waking World (1934)
  • Saints and Revolutionaries (1939)
  • New Hope for Britain (1939)
  • Philosophy and Living, 2 volumes (1939)
  • Beyond the "Isms" (1942)
  • Seven Pillars of Peace (1944)
  • Youth and Tomorrow (1946)
  • The Opening of the Eyes (1954)

Poetry

  • Latter-Day Psalms (1914)

External links

eo:Olaf STAPLEDON fr:Olaf Stapledon sv:Olaf Stapledon

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