No book before or since has ever had such an impact upon my imagination, declared Arthur C. Clarke of Last and First Men. This masterpiece of science fiction by British philosopher and writer Olaf Stapledon (1886-1950) is an imaginative, ambitious history of humanity's future that spans billions of years. Together with its follow-up, Star Maker, it is regarded as the standard by which all earlier and later future histories are measured. The protagonist of this compelling vel is humanity itself, stripped down to sheer intelligence. It evolves through the ages: rising to pinnacles of civilization, teetering on the brink of extinction, surviving onslaughts from other planets and a decline in solar energy, and constantly developing new forms, new senses, and new intellectual abilities. From the present to five billion years into the future, this romance of humanity abounds in profound and imaginative thought.
Olaf Stapledon, English novelist and philosopher whose histories of the future is a major influence on contemporary science fiction. He received a Ph.D. in philosophy and psychology from the University of Liverpool. In 1929 he published A Modern Theory of Ethics and seemed destined for an academic career, but after the success of his novel Last and First Men (1930), he turned to fiction. Stapledon also wrote for technical and scholarly reviews on ethics and philosophy. His other famous works include The Last Men in London (1932), Odd John (1935), Philosophy and Living (1938), Star Maker (1937), and Sirius (1944).