Last and First Men
Later in Stapledon's saga, the descendants of the human race relocate to Venus where they find a watery world straight out of the writings of Arrhenius (see Venus, life), inhabited by marine intelligence and other creatures "some sessile, others free-swimming, some microscopic, others as large as whales." All of these indigenous creatures are wiped out in the terraforming process employed to make the second planet fit for human habitation. Finally, mankind abandons Venus for Neptune before a supernova threatens its very existence. Here Stapledon again borrows from Arrhenius, suggesting that humanity's last hope of survival is panspermia – to send copies of its cells to the stars in the hope that there they will regenerate.
Arthur C. Clarke recalled in later years: "With its multimillion-year vistas, and its role call of great but doomed civilizations, the book produced an overwhelming impact upon me."
Although aliens feature only sparingly in Last and First Men, some of the forms they are said to assume in other parts of the Universe are spectacularly non-geomorphic:
In our own galaxy there have occurred hitherto some twenty thousand worlds that have conceived life. And of these a few score have attained or surpassed the mentality of the First Men... [Beyond planets] we have evidence that in a few of the younger stars there is life, and even intelligence. How it persists in an incandescent environment we know not, nor whether it is perhaps the life of the star as a whole, as a single organism, or the life of many flame-like inhabitants of the star ...Such strange possibilities were to be explored much further in Stapledon's next and greatest work, Star Maker.
Related category SCIENCE FICTION
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