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Star Maker (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 11 Nov 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (11 Nov. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857988078
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857988079
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 110,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Brian Aldiss calls this 1937 SF classic "the most wonderful novel I have ever read", and its Millennium Masterworks reissue adds admiring remarks by Jorge Luis Borges, Arthur C Clarke, Doris Lessing, Virginia Woolf among others. Olaf Stapledon is better known for Last and First Men (1930), a sweeping history of the future whose early chapters are now embarrassing--but Star Maker leaps straight into a unfurling vision of infinity.

Looking at the starry night from an English hillside, the unnamed narrator is snatched from his earthly body and flung through space at impossible acceleration, soon outstripping light. He visits other stars, sees other worlds and alien races, a gallery of SF marvels in documentary rather than story form. (Some of this now seems over-familiar, however fresh and new in 1937: the book drags a little here.) Fellow disembodied intelligences from the galactic community join our hero, sensing something beyond mere matter and energy:

The felt presence of the Star Maker remained unintelligible, even though it increasingly illuminated the cosmos, like the splendour of the unseen sun at dawn.

But the godlike Star Maker is not exactly God, as we see when the scope expands beyond one mere universe to show an endless cycle of creations, many of them being crude and "immature" products of this experimenter's hand. Further "mature" creations follow, foreshadowing the Ultimate Cosmos whose crystalline perfection is not comforting but terrifying. Star Maker's final unsparing evocation of the deep chill of infinity has even been compared to Dante. --David Langford

Review

"A buried treasure of 20th century literature reemerges in this splendid and practical edition. McCarthy's revealing introduction and notes display the genius of Star Maker to a new century." -- Robert Crossley, author of Olaf Stapledon: Speaking for the Future --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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One night when I had tasted bitterness I went out on to the hill. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dave_42 on 29 April 2010
Format: Paperback
"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" is not a conventional novel, so if that is what you are looking for, you should look elsewhere. It is a philosophical journey rather than a conventional story with a traditional plot and characters.

The narrator takes the reader on a journey through the universe and through time, starting on a hill near his home, and ultimately finding the creator of the universe, i.e. the Star Maker. He witnesses the entire life of the universe, and joins with many other minds from other civilizations throughout the galaxy. It is tempting to use phrases like "for its time" when describing this book, but it is a remarkable work for any time. I am sure that some of descriptions of civilizations and their scientific achievements would change if it were written today. However, the statement that the book makes would likely remain the same.

One does not need to read "Last and First Men" (or "Last Men in London" for that matter) to read this novel. The few remarks made in the narration that reference "Last and First Men" will not cause the reader any difficulty. They pass by almost unnoticed, as the reader's focus is on the amazing scope and vision which are contained in this novel. Stapledon's works are not the easiest reads, but they are well worth the effort.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By S. J. Newton on 25 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback
This is truly an amazing book. How is this man so little known? How ironic it is that this edition is published as one of the "Science Fiction Masterworks"; it is no more science-fiction than the Bible, or Thus Spoke Zarathustra. It is the profoundest book I have read this year and probably for several years.
"Star Maker" is nothing less than an attempt to unite science and religion in a common philosophy. It is categorised as a novel, which says more about the frustrations of those who love and need categories than it does about this book. It is not a novel: it is a work of great imagination, a courageous attempt at an almost incredible task - to try to describe "God". It is also very uncompromising and will leave many readers uncomfortable and perhaps even angry. But at the same time its vision is so beautiful, and so clearly touches on the incomprehensible truth of reality, that you can't help feeling grateful, humbled, and shattered at the same time.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Mar. 2000
Format: Paperback
This book, though for me revolutionary, has not received a lot of the recognition I believe it is worthy of. Firstly, it explores many factors now taken for granted in postmodern fiction, e.g. dislocation, divided selves and a sense of 'numbed' perception. Furthermore, like Frank Herbert and Douglas Adams he is able to weave these themes into the narrative, whilst still maintaining a sense of coherence.
He stays within the confines of the science-fiction genre, yet deals with complex and arbitrary issues which blend philosophy and a deep questioning of cultural values. Comparisons with H.G. Wells and John Wyndham are permissible, but it is his use of philosophy that makes me admire him as a great writer. I have yet to find a writer who has the ability to question so much, yet still maintain an aura of intelligibility.
Clearly, this book is a whirlwind trip and yet one worth taking since this is no ordinary author. He may have gained greater recognition for many of his other books, yet it is this book that gives so much to the reader without taking anything away. You may question what he describes to you, but you will not be able to question his ability to tell it to you.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By ta9760@hotmail.com on 11 Dec. 2001
Format: Paperback
I have to say that when i first started reading this book, i wasn't that impressed by the first couple of chapters. With its slightly antiquated style and perhaps slightly overlong monologues it felt like reading something like Edward Bellamy's 'looking backward'...This was especially the case as I had just read a Phillip K. Dick novel. However, the sheer imaginative scope of this text is phenomenal, an examination of important philosophical themes such as the ability to comprehend the possible purpose of God (the 'Star Maker') masquerading as a mythological history of the universe. When people refer to any novel as influential, what they seem to mean is that the text captures in its form and function the drift of ideas and concepts at any one time and space. In its treatment of God and the potential (in)significance of humanity, Stapledon's novel certainly is that. Should probably one day be studied at school, where children will marvel at a time when writers were more ambitiuous.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Nov. 1999
Format: Paperback
If, as the majority of people, you have never read an Olaf Stapledon novel, I suggest that you do so immediately. STAR MAKER was the first Stapledon I novel I ever read, and it was more than enough to make me realise the brilliance which this man obviously posessed. A visionary of almost unprecedented levels, in this novel Stapledon takes us from Earth to the far reacing ends of the galaxy, describing new worlds with new social conditions, all of which are used brilliantly to form a satirical commentry on the human condition. A breath-taking novel, that I would recommend to anyone with the desire to read a truely original work that will leave a long-lasting impression.
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