is a 1937 Science Fiction
novel by Olaf Stapledon
, and a sequel of sorts to Last and First Men
. When he decided that the former book — which chronicled the entire (future) history of humankind — had not been nearly ambitious enough, Stapledon followed it up with a history of the entire universe, culminating in a brief glimpse into the nature and history of God himself (the titular Star Maker).
Like Last and First Men
, the story's viewpoint grows broader and broader as it progresses, though this time it is a broadness not only of time but of space. After examining several individual alien societies in some detail, the book's perspective gradually pulls back from a planetary to a galactic scale, then to a universal scale, and finally to a viewpoint that encompasses the Star Maker himself and all of his various created universes.
Also like its predecessor, it's told through the framing device of a man (Stapledon himself, presumably) being given this "guided tour" of reality telepathically by advanced beings from the future.
This novel provides examples of:
- Alien Geometries: Not all of the Star Maker's creations are Euclidean. There are even some that are made of sound, some have time but lack space.
- Alien Non-Interference Clause
- Art Evolution: The Star Maker's motivation to create a new universe after he is done with the previous one.
- Blue and Orange Morality: The stars, as well as the Star Maker.
- Creation Myth
- Dyson Sphere: The actual origin of the concept (Dyson himself said they should have been called "Stapledon spheres"), though it's mentioned only briefly.
- Genius Loci: Later space civilizations eventually create sentient planets.
- God Is Evil: Or at least remarkably callous toward the suffering of his creations.
- Heavy Worlder: The beings designed to inhabit the white dwarfs, after there are few "living" stars left.
- Hive Mind: several of the species the author visits have this. A single specimen is just an animal, but a shared consciousness of a swarm is an equivalent of an individual.
- Hollow World: The artificial planets as well as all the "dead" stars eventually.
- Insignificant Little Blue Planet: The entire history of humanity from the first to the last men leaves absolutely no impact on the history of the galaxy, let alone the universe.
- Mental Fusion/Assimilation Plot: A simbiotic race eventually replaces physical simbiosis with a mental one. Later civilizations have species-wide telepathy that grants them a shared consciousness. This later spreads to most of the universe.
- Not So Different: Having become a part of the multigalactic overmind, the protagonist remains unaffected by the suffering of civilizations and individual beings, reasoning that their suffering ultimately serves a higher purpose. Yet he is horrified to find out that the Star Maker himself is just as indifferent to his own suffering for the very same reason.
- Starfish Aliens: Literally. The Echinoderms are intelligent beings that evolved from a starfish-like creature. In general, the book describes a great many very bizarre life forms, including intelligent stars and nebulae.
- The Multiverse: Some of the Star Maker's later creations consist of more than one universe.
- The Empire: What some of the advanced civilizations end up as.
- The Federation: What the other civilizations become.