Science Fiction Stapledon, Olaf: Last Men in London. v1. 28 Jun 2022
#1  GrannyGrump 06-27-2022, 01:46 PM
The narrator is the same member of the eighteenth and final human species who purportedly induced Stapledon to write Last and First Men. This is the story of this being’s exploration of the consciousness of a present-day Englishman named Paul, from childhood through service with an ambulance crew in the First World War (mirroring Stapledon’s own personal history) to adult life as a schoolteacher faced with a “submerged superman” in his class nicknamed Humpty. The inadequacies of Paul’s character, the various dilemmas he has to face during his life, and the occasional influence of the advanced being who shares his experiences, provide Stapledon with a semi-autobiographical platform on which to expound his philosophical and moral beliefs.

The book includes a piece of satire on sexual morality. An unspecified future human species (one of the Eighteenth Men’s predecessors on Neptune) is presented as having an attitude to nutrition analogous to the First Men’s sexual puritanism. Hence they invent mouth aprons and food privies, while having sex in public.

“The last chapter of the book is also very interesting, because it is here that Stapledon experiments with the concept of a ‘Superman’, which would become the subject of his next novel ‘Odd John’. One can see the foundations of ‘Odd John’ being laid here.”
[—“Dave”, Goodreads review]

William Olaf Stapledon (10 May 1886 – 6 September 1950) – known as Olaf Stapledon – was a British philosopher and author of science fiction. In 2014, he was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. Stapledon was awarded a PhD degree in philosophy from the University of Liverpool in 1925 and used his doctoral thesis as the basis for his first published prose book, A Modern Theory of Ethics (1929). However, he soon turned to fiction in the hope of presenting his ideas to a wider public.

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.

Last Men in London, by Olaf Stapledon (1886-1950), was first published in 1932. This ebook is in the public domain where copyright is “Life+70” or less.
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