free Odd John: A Story between Jest and Earnest Author Olaf Stapledon –

I read this first in grade school While no genius is struck a chord with my lonely childhood and made me think I also started writing a book with this tale as a role model for it Such has this book impacted my life I cannot recall how many times I read this book Despite all my moves I still have that very book, though now tattered It has been years since I have done then pick up the book from my shelf and read it I almost fear it would no longer be relevant or deep to me Or maybe that it still would be Whatever the orginator of my fear I would say this book is directed toward teens. another one that I read many times when I was young fond, vague impressions lingerI had never heard of Olaf Stapledon before and I never heard of him again until I bought The Great Courses How Science Fiction Works, and there he was again I had remembered his name and this one book, Odd John, for decades Now I want to read it again, just to see why I kept some part of it with me for all that time On a related subject, I do believe there must be others like me who read many favorite books again, or even many times I think that is a good thing to do, and I wish it counted toward how many books we have read on our lists here I read Heart of Darkness fifty times Elements of Style twenty five The John Carter of Mars series, seven times and onReading a great book once is like looking at the Mona Lisa once, for lack of a better comparison You can t understand a book on the first reading the way that you can on the second reading that s my opinion, but it s logical, too Hints and foreshadowing are among the many elements of literature that just aren t fully visible on the first reading More importantly, the depths and pleasures of a great work cannot be fully enjoyed or plumbed, emotionally or mentally, on one reading Then again, I mean no offense to those who read a book once and happily jump to the next I do that, too I guess I read most of the Agatha Christi books that way, just for fun And no offense to those books either It s just that some books call to me personally, and others may call to you That s good, isn t it Books are a way of life with many different trails one can follow. John Wainwright Is A Freak A Human Mutation With An Extraordinary Intelligence Which Is Both Awesome And Frightening To All Who Come Into Contact With Him Ordinary Humans Were Just Playthings To John Subjects For An Endless Chain Of Experiments Their Feelings, And Sometimes Even Their Lives, Are ExpendableOdd John Has A Plan To Create A New Order On Earth, A New Supernormal Species But The World Is Not Ready For Such A Change A somewhat freaky human decides his superiority to others makes him exempt from following all rules of civilized behavior, so he comes up with an invention to make himself wealthy and sets about pursuing his own goals Actually that s the plot of Stanley G Weinbaum s The New Adam and it appears over and over again anytime a sci fi writer goes on a philosophical jag You might also remember the Outer Limits episode The Sixth Finger as another example.According to Stapledon s bio he was a philosopher as well as a writer IMO he wasn t much of a writer He s much too dry, flat, and boring Reading him is a struggle In Odd John he picks up on this same old superman plot as espoused by Nietzsche It s neither new or interesting Weinbaum s version isn t all that great either After all there s not a lot you can do with the scenario But at least Weinbaum can write Odd John is available at Gutenberg Canada if you want to check it out. sometimes it gets boring cause it s too obvious the way OS inserts his philosophical views into the narrative not adding very much to the story s better written than AEVV s Slan, I think nevertheless, i m starting to struggle with this golden SF not because of what the genre in itself implies offers but because how was written so far, i ve read a couple though.btw it s about THE 1st Superman story ever and apparently where the idea of a Prof X and or X men came fromhttps x men ex n Olaf Stapledon s Odd John is an odd book It is science fiction in its loftiest form a novel of ideas.Stapledon uses this tale of a youth who is an example of a new superior species emerging from conventional humanity as a way to examine the human condition from the outside John s account to the narrator of the failings of our species and why we are, he feels, doomed to self destruction really cut to the quick And the fact that John operates according to moral principles so very different from our own is something which also can stimulate uncomfortable questions about the bases of our values How would we feel about sacrificing the lives of members of a less developed species in service of the survival of our own We do it all the time But it doesn t seem quite so acceptable perhaps when we are that lesser species.Of course having a narrator who is a member of homo sapiens rather than the new homo superior means that much of what John and his fellow supermen and superwomen do and think can only be hinted at But Stapledon does an amazing job of hinting at some kind of liberated universal consciousness and the communal living it makes possible All of this is made easier by the fact that the new species is telepathic, even being able to travel telepathically into the past and commune with those who are now dead.I suppose this raises the question as to whether this is really science fiction or fantasy John comes up with a number of new technologies which play a part in the story, but even the method of propulsion on his boat and airplane involve the psychic manipulation of atomic forces Then again, if the behaviour of particles is effected by their being observed as quantum physicists say, maybe telekinesis does have a place in science fiction Apparently, Stapledon wasn t aware that there was such a genre as science fiction until after he was being hailed as one of its leading lights He was certainly ahead of his time This book was published in 1935 and John s description of where the world is heading includes a very accurate picture of the progress of fascism and the horrors of what would be the Second World War The book is also free of many of the sexual prejudices of the time. Odd John is a proverbial feast for thought and is filled with many an intelligent nuance In exploring what it is to be super human, Stapledon holds a mirror up to what it is to be just merely human.Odd John has several shocking moments and is clearly aimed at an adult audience I haven t researched the topic but I can t help but think that certain passages caused it to be received as controversial for the time or even caused it to be censured or downright banned in some quarters.In writing about Homo Superior, Stapledon shows why he s an Author Superior Misc Stapledon was obviously influenced by The Hampdenshire Wonder by J.D Beresford He references it 3 times p 2 How pathetically one sided the supernormal development may be is revealed in Mr J D Beresford s account of the unhappy Victor Scott p 4 His glance, however, had none of that weirdly compelling power recorded in the case of Victor Scott.p 16 His vocabulary was of course very inadequate, so he proceeded in the manner of Victor Scott, and read through from cover to cover, first a large English dictionary, then Borderline racist, Odd John reads like a list of generally unimaginative descriptions of the maturation of a hypothetical super human The book mostly relies on the trick of portraying all humanity as either so simple or stupid that a child with the mind of an adult dictator is meant to seem than human Not sure what the overall point of the novel was, possibly it is that communism is basically faulted but as close as humans can get to the utopia which only post human individualists with telepathic powers can imagine Or maybe the point is simply that humans are hopeless idiots who will eventually destroy the planet on account of our inability to be robotic rationalists with super powers The prose is a real yawn fest too. , 60 , 7 2,5 5 Source of my current favorite quote A nation, after all, is just a society for hating foreigners Very much on point lately.Interesting book The strangest thing about it being that I couldn t figure out why I wanted to keep reading it It is a mostly philosophical tome about an evolved human homo superior who is kind of an ass Yet it was a very smooth read, in that vein of an intellectual white man tells the world about a thing he observed toned stories And shit, Stapledon so called WWII.