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Star Maker

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  6,719 ratings  ·  594 reviews
Star Maker is a science fiction novel by Olaf Stapledon, published in 1937. The book describes a history of life in the universe, dwarfing in scale Stapledon's previous book, Last and First Men (1930), a history of the human species over two billion years. Star Maker tackles philosophical themes such as the essence of life, of birth, decay and death, and the relationship b ...more
Paperback, SF Masterworks, 272 pages
Published November 11th 1999 by Millennium Paperbacks (first published 1937)
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Ann Star Maker is a classic -- I first read it only 3 or 4 years ago and was awestruck by it. I feel you won't at all be disappointed that it feels dated.…moreStar Maker is a classic -- I first read it only 3 or 4 years ago and was awestruck by it. I feel you won't at all be disappointed that it feels dated. On the contrary I have been impressed by Stapledon's prescience in a number of places in his oeuvre. The cosmology in the book was based on known science at the time and parts may have been superseded by current theories but remember this is speculative fiction. Here and there a turn of phrase is quaint and not commonly in contemporary use, but it also speaks to Stapledon's beautiful and rich writing. This book is a rare joy. Do not deny yourself the pleasure of reading one of the greatest books of modern times, in my humble opinion. (less)
Daniel Lloyd I found Last and First Men to be a much tougher read than this and others I've recommended these books to have found the same. That said they're both …moreI found Last and First Men to be a much tougher read than this and others I've recommended these books to have found the same. That said they're both incredible books in scope and well worth getting through. I would advise starting with Last and First Men but if you struggle with it don't be put off reading Star Maker. In my opinion it's one of the most important Sci-Fi books of all time(less)

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Average rating 3.93  · 
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Wow. Just wow. This novel disproves the general assumption that golden age SF is either hokey or unscientific.

In fact, it starts out like a strong hard-SF exploration novel touching on many possible alien races, mindsets, and physiologies, but it dives right down the rabbit hole into vast combined telepathic minds, galactic societies that actually are GALACTIC in scale, telepathic communication with multiple galaxies, and even to the discovery the rich stellar intelligence. That's right. Intelli
There's a theory that, no matter what the author appears to be writing about, really he's writing about himself. I find this theory quite appealing, and, even though I don't believe it 100%, I think it's often a good way to try and understand why you like a book.

Star Maker is an interesting test case. In an earlier book, Last and First Men, the author described the billion-year future history of the human race. Now, he has expanded the scope into a history of the entire universe. The human race
H.M. Ada
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
" discover what part life and mind were actually playing among the stars."

I absolutely loved this. Plant people, composite minds, intelligent stars - and an exploration into some of life's biggest questions. This book is a history of the universe, told by an Englishman who mysteriously floats into the sky one night while contemplating its immensity. It does not contain many of the traditional elements of a novel. For example, there are not many "characters" in the traditional sense. But wh
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
This is not an easy read, but incredibly important one. The author takes us on a journey of ideas and concepts and in process completely alters our sense of scale, both spacial and temporal. Stapeldon was truly a pioneer of SF for bringing us truly big ideas.
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Star Maker: The grandest vision of the universe
(Posted at Fantasy Literature)
Star Maker is perhaps the grandest and most awe-inspiring vision of the universe ever penned by a SF author, before the term even existed, in 1937 by the pioneering English writer Olaf Stapledon.

Although some readers might think that this book was only outstanding for its time, I would say it remains an amazing tour-de-force today, and has clearly inspired many of the genre’s most famous practitioners, including Arthur
L.S. Popovich
Stapledon manages to make it into the classical science fiction canon while dispensing with the traditional methods and inventing his own brand of speculative storytelling. This novel is pure speculation in the grandest sense. A consciousness, very like an astral projection of a human, explores outer space. Once intelligent life is encountered, it observes, then incorporates knowledge from that race and moves on to the next. I like the fact that even with god-like powers, the primary concern of ...more
Helen (Helena/Nell)
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a novel -- is it a novel? If it is a novel it has no plot and no developed characters. The time scale is so huge as to be unimaginable (Stapledon's imagination is also unimaginable). The narrator starts as 'I', then turns into 'we', sometimes 'human', then a cosmic consciousness; and at one point something like (but not exactly) a demi-god. Oh weird, this is so weird. This might be the weirdest book I have ever read.

How is it compelling with no plot? How can you care what happens next wh
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I really wanted to like this book, especially given its glowing reviews and being hailed as early sci-fi with lots of great ideas, etc., etc. It does contain some really cool ideas about extraterrestrial species (and some somewhat less accessible/relevant/persuasive ideas about the organization of the universe), but it reads like a textbook. There is no real character/narrator, just a frame story about "mental interstellar travel" that allows the text to move around from planet to planet. There ...more
Oleksandr Zholud
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a SF novel from 1937, it shows a way the genre could have gone. It is like a dinosaur, it is great in some aspects and modern animal can go green with envy for their advantages but ultimately it was unfit, so the evolution done its deed.

The story follows the narrator’s journey through the space and time of the universe. It can be split into five major parts:
Part one, the physical universe. The narrator (soul?) goes from the Earth and travels across the galaxy. He sees different stars and
Quentin Crisp
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Quentin by: James Champagne
Shelves: top-100-books
It might be best for me to try and write a review as I go along.

This is the first of 25 books in a list I've drawn up for myself of works of science fiction to read in 2016.

The basic idea of Star Maker is quite simple, but extremely ambitious: If a human consciousness could detach from the body in order to explore the universe, what would it discover? Reading it, I began to wonder why no one else seems to have attempted such an idea, as well as wondering why I had not heard of Stapledon. The tr
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All hail the master Stapledon! With his no plot, no struggle, no conflict, textbookshual novels, hahaha. It stands on its own as a gorgeous and inventive investigation of humanity, but I also can't help but see this as an allegory of pre- and inter-war year tensions, with alien depictions reflecting early 20th assertions of national identity, as if Stapledon is trying to pinpoint the common bit of humanity left in the ruthless world powers of the 1930s. Another for the re-read shelf! Another for ...more
Dawn C
Jun 10, 2020 rated it liked it
I was somehow let down by this one. The foreword waxes on about how mindbrowing and transcending it is, calling it undefinable and not really a scifi novel. Well on that point we can at least agree.

A human learns without any explanation to travel in space and time with his mind, and thus begins a long account of his explorations on other planets where he meets other intelligent beings (annoying called humans when what he actually means is they are humanoid), one which he mindmelts with, and toge
Ed Erwin
May 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club, sf
This novel has many great and fascinating ideas in it about the nature of life, the universe, and everything. Far, far too many ideas.

Many of the ideas are still being talked about in modern cosmology. But with a few exceptions (e.g. expanding universe) there is little evidence for any of them.

Fascinating in small doses. Pretty tough to get through the whole thing.

Easier to read than Eureka: A Prose Poem by Edgar Allan Poe, but that's not saying much!
Jun 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
An amazing, challenging tour of the universe through the eyes of a cosmic voyager growing gradually into a transcendent vision of Creation and Eternity. Mixes everything from Einstein to Buddha and astrophysics to strange life forms in megagravity environments. Never read anything like it. Great prose style, and especially remarkable for the fact it was written just as WWII was a gathering storm. That is, pre Zen in the West, pre marijuana and LSD, pre Fritjof Capra, but more in tune with the Co ...more
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
“Star Maker”, by Olaf Stapledon, is an incredible novel by an author whose contributions to science fiction are unique and serve as inspiration to many of the greatest works in the field. It was Stapledon’s fourth novel and was first published in 1937. Narrated by the same voice as narrated “Last and First Men” the novel is a sequel of sorts, but at the same time it has a much larger scope and thus there is no noticeable overlap between the two novels. As with “Last and First Men”, “Star Maker” ...more
Nate D
Feb 25, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: As Patrick says, scientists and mystics.
Recommended to Nate D by: Lucy
It is near impossible to imagine a novel with a greater scope than this one, which spans all of cosmic eternity from big bang to the energy death of the universe... and perhaps beyond. In Stapleton's convulsively expanding reference frame humans are almost immediately inconsequential, and shortly thereafter almost any reference to specific planet or even solar system. Some narrative momentum and personal attachment is sacrificed to the remarkable breadth, but this is necessary, and he gets aroun ...more
Daniel Roy
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf-masterworks, sf
If you like SF stories that project far, far into the distant future, then Star Maker will leave you breathless. I don't think there's a single book in existence that can dwarf the scope and grandeur of this one. How can you write something bigger than the ultimate destiny of all the Universes in existence?

If Star Maker had been published in 2013, it would be a marvel of scope and imagination. But for a book published in 1937, its inventiveness is mind-boggling. I'm left with the same sense of a
Aug 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, 2014-rev

3.5 stars

A man suddenly acquires the power to travel mentally throughout all dimensions of the universe, from creation to conclusion. He traces the development of many kinds of life while seeking signs of a postulated creative force.

This is possibly the dullest interesting book I've read, or vice versa. It's seldom that it takes me this long to complete a book (even the dread Alexandria Quartet felt faster), and it could almost be said of this novel that I "could
Mar 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Last and First Men hurt, but I'm back for more. And Stapledon continues to run with his vast future history, now encompassing the universe. It repeats the original structure, with a series of specific, detailed histories that eventually generalize and summarize, pulling back to show the entire grand scope. And in so doing, dares to slot the events of Last and First Men--the entirety of broadly-defined humanity's existence--as less than a footnote, never having joined galactic society and being ...more
William Oarlock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
'Star Maker' moved me. Written in the late 1930's, Stapledon was perhaps a bit ahead of his time, or at least, it seems at least as relevant today as it must have been back then.

I would describe the book as a creation myth for the secular age. It is a mystical and spiritual story for those of us who believe in science, and not in a personal God in the tradition of traditional faith, yet who are spiritual seekers all the same.

Based on the astronomical knowledge of the time, Stapledon paints a swe
May 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: SF fans/people who like philosophy
Shelves: science-fiction
One of the greatest books ever written. Every science fiction fan should read this.
May 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Have had to finally admit defeat on this one. perhaps i shall return to it at some point, I know i put Jude the obscure aside when I was about 20 and then took it up again and read it about 15 years later. the problem with that scenario would be the sneakiest suspicion that 15 years would take me way past any interest I would have in completing a novel i find totally porridge-like in its stodginess. I think it might be one to launch myself at when there is nothing else to read in reach but I hav ...more
May 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If a weird, science-named cult religion had spun off from this book, rather than by a pulp writer named Hubbard twenty years later, I would have no hair, no material possessions, and you would find me at your door with fliers to join. My only complaint is the heavy reliance on telepathy as the medium for movement and character interaction. Also, there isn't much plot, in any traditional sense, which is probably why no one ever reads this book. ...more
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writers-writers
Star Maker must have been at least a little old-fashioned even when it was published in 1937. Stapledon uses the framing technique of Eddison and others, very much like Hodgson in The House on the Borderland to tell the story of a man who travels the cosmos by intellect alone. It is also more Wells than Wells in its didacticism. There isn’t much of a story here; it’s a journey of observation, explaining how the universe works, from the microscopic level to the divine.

Despite it being basically a
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
I got this from a list of books on io9 that were "books everyone talks about and no one reads." It was apparently very influential, and I can see why.

First the negative: Like most old fiction (1930s here), this book has a problem with pacing. For the most part it reads like a history textbook, with occasional personal interjections and foreshadowing along the lines of, "Pay attention, these guys will be important later."

That said, it's interesting enough to overcome that issue and keep you (me)
Dec 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people seeking God
Recommended to Ollie by: it was a Xmas present
This book nearly blew my head off so I can only imagine what readers felt when they first encountered it in 1937. Enthralled? Ecstatic? Spellbound? If I were Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes and I found a copy of this book underneath the fallen Statue of Liberty, I'd create a religion around it. It is, after all, a beautiful example of how science fiction can touch theology and make the reader believe momentarily that there is meaning to life.

On a silent, starry night, the narrator of the n
Jul 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
As a work of the imagination, I have never read anything that surpasses this. As a 'science fiction' novel this is definitely in my top ten although it is important to remember that Stapledon was not aware that he was writing anything resembling a work in this genre and indeed had never heard of the genre at all.

This is such a profound book that it seems like a terrible shame that it has only attracted a relatively small reading audience: it deserves much more than the Happy Few who currently co
Dec 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've never written a review for a book before, but this one left such a strong impression on me that I think I should write one.

First of all, it is not an easy read. The whole book is essentially prose-poetry. There is no dialogue - every page is filled with rich, detailed, poetic descriptions. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it meant that it took me a while longer to finish the book.

Each page is also likely to contain some deep philosophical or spiritual idea. After reading a page or two I nee
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Excerpted from wikipedia:
William Olaf Stapledon was a British philosopher and author of several influential works of science fiction.

Stapledon's writings directly influenced Arthur C. Clarke, Brian Aldiss, Stanisław Lem, C. S. Lewis and John Maynard Smith and indirectly influenced many others, contributing many ideas to the world of science fiction.

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“Sitting there on the heather, on our planetary grain, I shrank from the abysses that opened up on every side, and in the future. The silent darkness, the featureless unknown, were more dread than all the terrors that imagination had mustered. Peering, the mind could see nothing sure, nothing in all human experience to be grasped as certain, except uncertainty itself; nothing but obscurity gendered by a thick haze of theories. Man's science was a mere mist of numbers; his philosophy but a fog of words. His very perception of this rocky grain and all its wonders was but a shifting and a lying apparition. Even oneself, that seeming-central fact, was a mere phantom, so deceptive, that the most honest of men must question his own honesty, so insubstantial that he must even doubt his very existence.” 25 likes
“All this long human story, most passionate and tragic in the living, was but an unimportant, a seemingly barren and negligible effort, lasting only for a few moments in the life of the galaxy. When it was over, the host of the planetary systems still lived on, with here and there a casualty, and here and there among the stars a new planetary birth, and here and there a fresh disaster.” 17 likes
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