Last and First Men, Paperback
3 out of 5 (3 ratings)


One of the most extraordinary, imaginative and ambitious novels of the century: a history of the evolution of humankind over the next 2 billion years. Among all science fiction writers Olaf Stapledon stands alone for the sheer scope and ambition of his work. First published in 1930, Last and First Men is full of pioneering speculations about evolution, terraforming, genetic engineering and many other subjects.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Science fiction
  • ISBN: 9781857988062



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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

Certainly not the classic that "Starmaker" undoubtedly is, this early English science fiction epic is still remarkable.It has dated, and severely in places. Stapledon, like most of the rest of the world, fails to predict an approaching world war, and so the first few chapters, that deal with man's struggle through that period, are difficult to read, mostly for their naivety. That said, Stapledon does accurately gauge the impact that technology would have on modern society.From there, the book accelerates away from the present. Civilisation is crushed, killed and then reborn, continuously, again and again; the effect is satisfyingly chilling, in the way that it reminds the reader just how little one life, and one generation, can matter in the bigger scheme of things. And also, that there is no "scheme" to speak of.

Review by

Five out of ten.

Tells the story of man from First man (now) all the way through our continued evolution to Sixth man. The time-scales involved are enormous but eminently believable.

Review by

I'd heard of this book and spent several years chasing down a second-hand copy (the year before it came out in SF Masterworks!). I wasn't disappointed. It's a journey at breakneck speed through mankind's future history. By the end, the last men are far removed from our petty concerns. I've seen Well's film of The Shape of Things to Come. Last and First Men feels like that (partly with the pre-war feel) except imagine the film keeps rolling on and on into the distant future. Great as the scope of this book is, Stapledon's Star Maker makes it look parochial.

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