The Earth is My Footstool: Wells, Stapledon and the Idea of the Post-Human


P. Parrinder (2012), JBIS65, 20-24

Refcode: 2012.65.20
Keywords: H.G. Wells, Olaf Stapledon, science fiction, superhuman, post-human, extraterrestrial intelligence, cosmos, agnostic mysticism

Despite the history of mutual contacts between H.G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon, Stapledon’s science fiction was not written under Wells’s shadow. Space travel, for the `agnostic mystic’ Stapledon, is a means to develop the full possibilities of the human species as well as to discover the nature and origins of the cosmos. Neither the superhuman beings of Last and First Men , nor the alien planets, stars and galaxies of Star Maker , turn out to be beyond human comprehension. The post-human, properly understood, is the already human; the non-human (i.e. extraterrestrial intelligence in all its varieties) can ultimately join with humanity in a single `communal mind’. Stapledon’s universe of repetition with variations may seem to recycle human solipsism, yet – for all his apparent detachment from the mundane – his case for the necessary awakening of `Interplanetary Man’ has a genuine urgency.