Nice article (from the New Scientist magazine) about Virginia Woolf and science fiction (thanks Robin)
I would have thanked you for your book before, but I have been very busy and have only just had time to read it. I don't suppose that I have understood more than a small part - all the same I have understood enough to be greatly interested, and elated too, since sometimes it seems to me that you are grasping ideas that I have tried to express, much more fumblingly, in fiction. But you have gone much further and I can't help envying you - as one does those who reach what one has aimed at.
Many thanks for giving me a copy,
This was Virginia Woolf's reply to the influential science fiction writer Olaf Stapledon after he had sent her a copy of his recently published novel Star Maker. In an earlier exchange of letters, she made it clear that she had also enjoyed previous works of his, probably including Last and First Men from 1931. These two novels, Stapledon's masterpieces, are enduring monuments of science fiction and of British literature generally. Within a decade of Edwin Hubble's discovery of the red shift, which revealed the universe to be vastly bigger than anyone had imagined, Stapledon's work compressed an entire poetic history of humanity and the cosmos into two slight volumes (more...