At a moment when Europe is in danger of a catastrophe worse than that of 1914 a book like this may be condemned as a distraction from the desperately urgent defence of civilization against modern barbarism.
se they were so near. On every side the middle distance was crowded with swarms and streams of stars. But even these now seemed near; for the Milky Way had receded into an incomparably greater distance. And through gaps in its nearer parts appeared vista beyond vista of luminous mists, and deep perspectives of stellar populations.
The universe in which fate had set me was no spangled chamber, but a perceived vortex of star-streams. No! It was more. Peering between the stars into the outer darkness, I saw also, as mere flecks and points of light, other such vortices, such galaxies, sparsely scattered in the void, depth beyond depth, so far afield that even the eye of imagination could find no limits to the cosmical, the all-embracing galaxy of galaxies. The universe now appeared to me as a void wherein floated rare flakes of snow, each flake a universe.
Gazing at the faintest and remotest of all the swarm of universes, I seemed, by hypertelescopic imagination, to see it as a population of suns; a
This book has many, many, good ideas, and nothing resembling a plot. There is one character--the narrator. The narrator leaves the Earth psychically and eventually finds another planet with human-level intelligence, where he bonds with an inhabitant. The two of them leave to find world after world, collecting awarenesses, and forming a collective mind. The rest of the book is a survey of what they found.
Stapledon is one of science fiction's greatest thinkers, and this book is a bit of a slog--I had to keep going back a page to reread each time I got lost.
Possibly the most far-reaching novel ever written. Clumsy, perhaps, in places, but not didactic--the perfect companion to Shaw's Methuselah's Children on one end and Clarke's Childhood's End on the other, and far surpassing them both. Stapledon demonstrates an insight, ability to re-think the accepted (both culturally, biologically, and religiously), and scope that is nothing short of dazzling. Let this one carry you.
A wonderful book, as much philosophy or religon as science fiction.