Star Maker (1937)

Book Review: Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon………………………………………………………

Book Review: Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon

Star Maker is a 1937 science fiction novel written by Olaf Stapledon. It is a pretty admirable, yet frustratingly uninvolving book.

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Either God is the universe,

or he is the flavor of creativity pervading all things

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Book Review: Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon………………………………………………………

It describes the history of life in the universe. It┬átackles philosophical themes such as the essence of life, of birth, decay and death, and the relationship between creation and creator. So obviously it deals with very fascinating and ambitious themes and it truly is one of the most ambitious and all-encompassing sci-fi novels that I’ve read. The relationships between different alien civilizations and the importance of them is probably the best established and most important theme. But the relationship between the creator and the creation was simply a fascinating read and to me the book serves as a great proponent of agnosticism.

But as I said above, this is a very difficult read. I am not only saying that it is tedious and it truly is like that in most of its second half. Very slow. But I also want to say that it features a pretty problematic approach to its storytelling. So Star Maker is basically a documentary, a non-fiction book in its style of writing. But it isn’t as it isn’t real and it is fictional in its story. And that duality was frustrating and not at all welcome here. I guess he wanted to be even more ambitious, but it wasn’t needed as this was always going to be a hugely ambitious SF work.

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Book Review: Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon………………………………………………………

Some of the highlights here include the various alien species and the descriptive passages there are excellent, the ending, the beginning is very intriguing and the entire first half was pretty great to me. But the second half became too documentary-like and thus it went off the rails in my opinion.

Star Maker is a dull read that isn’t too long as this is an epic story, but it should have been written in a more accessible manner for readers. Arthur Clarke also writes hard sci-fi with a lot of science talk in it, but he phrases his sentences in a shorter, easier and more accessible manner so that is why I prefer his writing much more. Olaf Stapledon is a visionary and probably the grandfather of all hard science fiction and I respect him for the plethora of ideas here, but the execution is not as visionary and, much like most of the books from his time, his writing is too difficult, to entangled and with way too long sentences in my opinion.

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Book Review: Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon………………………………………………………

He is the best at describing some phenomena and different civilizations, those passages were great. But whenever he got into the politics, he lost me a bit. The characterization is not the greatest, but also not that necessary to begin with which is usual for this genre. So the story is great and the lack of dialogue did not bother me at all, but this particular approach itself is very troublesome and it was a major turnoff to me personally.

In the end, Star Maker is a respectable, truly monumental work of science fiction in its admirable ambitiousness and a variety of interesting themes and ideas explored. But Stapledon’s writing is not the most interesting and his approach is too much like a documentary. It is a book that I respect a lot, but it was quite a difficult read nonetheless.

My Rating – 3.6

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