Olaf Stapledon and Doris Lessing: Continuity in English Science Fiction Literature
Nowadays more and more science fiction critics and scholars agree that Olaf Stapledon is one of the most important writers in science fiction since Herbert Wells. His ideas influenced not only such science fiction writers as Arthur Clarke, Clifford Simak, Theodore Sturgeon, Cordwainer Smith, Stanislaw Lem, Ursula Le Guin but also important mainstream writers like Doris Lessing who has also used techniques of science fiction in her novels. Nobel Prize in Literature-winner, Lessing clearly admits to being influenced by Stapledon: “[I]t is likely he influences people as he did me: hard to say exactly how, but he leaves an admiration for his audaciousness and his claim as an imaginative writer […].” This paper analyses The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 by Doris Lessing and Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon. Stapledon’s narratives definitely influenced Lessing’s conception of the novel, her style of historical and sociological summations, as well as her treatment of genetic, evolutionary and alienation themes. A kinship with Stapledon is also manifested in the cosmic perspectives employed by Doris Lessing in her SF works. Both writers raise very important problems concerning the sense of human life, the evolution of the human race, human spirit and the Universe. Their works demonstrate the continuity in English science fiction literature and a very strong dedication to the abovementioned issues.
Keywords— Olaf Stapledon, Doris Lessing, Last and First Men, The Making of the Representative for Planet 8, Science fiction, Parables.