Monday, June 13, 2005

There is one final connection to make between HG and GR, and it is another writer. Although HG essentially created science fiction as we know it in the 1890s, it more or less languished until the pulps inspired its reemergence in America in the 1930s. But Wells had one prominent younger disciple: Olaf Stapledon. Not well known even by science fiction fans, he is highly praised by science fiction writers and critics, and a writer Roddenberry read and studied throughout his years working on Star Trek.

In novels like '>Last and First Men and Star Maker, Stapledon combined Darwin and Einstein in the first evolutionary histories and stories of galactic civilizations that became a staple of science fiction of all kinds. His visions were also highly spiritual and profoundly influenced by war, in ways that GR could appreciate. Like both HG and GR, Stapledon believed that humanity was still in an early stage of childhood or adolescence.

"His was the noblest and most civilized mind I have ever encountered," Arthur C. Clarke said of Stapledon. "His prose is as lucid as his imagination is huge and frightening," Brian Aldiss wrote. "Star Maker is really the one great grey holy book of science fiction." When Allan Asherman interviewed Gene Roddenberry as he was beginning production on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Roddenberry was re-reading Stapledon. Sam Peeples remembered lending a couple of Stapledon's hard-to-find novels to GR when he was conceiving Star Trek in the 1960s. Of Roddenberry's original concept for Star Trek, Sam Peeples told Asherman, "I think he] wanted to do a more realistic, a more earthy version of Olaf Stapledon's concepts that were so enormous and staggering."

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