Saturday, October 1, 2011

Star Maker (Classic SF)

But, as we advanced on our pilgrimage, our own desires began to change…We came less and less to require that Love should be enthroned behind the stars; more and more we desired merely to pass on, opening our hearts to accept fearlessly whatever of the truth might fall within our comprehension.
I found Olaf Stapledon’s Star Maker amazing and difficult. This sequel to Last and First Men has a scope that spans from the birth to the death of our cosmos, and beyond. It includes many different types of “men” in many different periods of our galaxy, sometimes discussing the sociological implications of particular types of biology. Star Maker also includes a fascinating creation myth. I admire Stapledon’s imagination. Yet, the book is challenging. Other than the opening and closing sections, Stapledon does little to help the reader relate to the characters. Likewise, the book has only a tenuous plot. The book is more like a travel guide that discusses zoology and galactic anthropology than a dynamic story.

Briefly, the story opens with the narrator outside of his house in England, looking at the stars. He finds himself disembodied and able to travel beyond the Earth. Slowly he learns how to navigate and begins to travel to other planets that contain types of men. He is able to go inside their consciousness, seeing the world from their perspective and also communicating with them telepathically. As with Last and First Men, each world has its crises and successes. He is also able to travel in time. As the story progresses, he is joined in his travels with other beings, often forming a group consciousness. At first the group only goes to planets that contain similar types of men, but gradually they visit beings who are less and less like themselves. Toward the end of the story the narrator learns that even the stars have consciousness. Many of the beings that the narrator meets have an urge to know about the Star Maker, what I would call God or the Divine Creator.

Star Maker made for very slooooow reading. In the beginning I literally would read a paragraph or two and fall asleep. Yet, I was and am awed by Stapleton’s talent and imagination. I am very glad I read the book, but I am also very glad that I am done with it.

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