Saturday, 13 June 2015


When Brian Aldiss called Olaf Stapledon the ultimate science fiction writer, I agreed. In fact, I think that I had independently applied that phrase to Stapledon.

When James Blish described Poul Anderson's Tau Zero as an ultimate work of hard sf, he probably meant something like this:

first, the novel is based on the ingenious, although on reflection also obvious, hard sf premise of an uncontrollably accelerating relativistic spaceship;

secondly, the author reasons from this premise to a logical but also ultimate conclusion - the ship survives the universe.

If this is what Blish meant, then he was right. However, the book must also work as a novel. And it does, which is why, in the previous post (here), I described it as an ultimate narrative of human endurance.

It is good to connect Anderson to Stapledon with the appropriate term, "ultimate," as applied by Blish and Aldiss, respectively.

And now let me plug another blog by linking to an alternative meaning of the word, "Ultimates." Also, here and here.

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