Get Your Free Audiobook

Last and First Men

Narrated by: Stephen Greif
Length: 14 hrs and 48 mins
4 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

Non-member price: $28.87

After 30 days, Audible is $16.45/mo. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

One of the most extraordinary, imaginative and ambitious novels of the century: a history of the evolution of humankind over the next 2 billion years. Among all science fiction writers Olaf Stapledon stands alone for the sheer scope and ambition of his work. First published in 1930, Last and First Men is full of pioneering speculations about evolution, terraforming, genetic engineering and many other subjects.

©1930 Olaf Stapledon (P)2012 Audible Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

No Reviews are Available
Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Isaac Sharp
  • Isaac Sharp
  • 16-03-2014

Starts slow, but give it time; mind-blowing

What did you like best about this story?

The vast scope of time.

Any additional comments?

In the forward, [whoever wrote that] said they recommend skipping the first 3 chapters because they are tedious, and obviously, are now past future-history, which makes the predictions a little laughable in their falseness.
I didn't skip the first 3 chapters and almost gave the book up at around the 2 hour mark, and am so happy I didn't. It grows exponentially more amazing and interesting all the way to the end. Unlike anything I've read before. Truly mind-expanding.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Michael G Kurilla
  • Michael G Kurilla
  • 28-07-2013

Quite impressive for 1930

Stapledon attempts to convey the evolution of humans over a 2 billion year epoch. The breadth and scope of concepts are extensive and even somewhat surprising given the extent of scientific thinking at that time. Interestingly, he also nails some geopolitical evolution in his near term in that the US and China end up vying for global supremacy as well as identifying Germany dominating Europe economically (interestingly due to their pacifist nature following their WWI defeat). What follows is a natural progression of stages with current day being the "first" men and ending with the last, or eighteenth iteration of "humans". The story is conveyed as a message from the last to first when the last anticipate their eventual destruction.

The sci-fi elements are varied and Stapledon covers the gamut (only missing computers). He brings in biological warfare and anticipates genetic manipulation, first on microorganisms and finally animals, plants and even humans (some of which serve to demarcate the 1 - 18 progression). He envisions nuclear fission (annihilation of matter which leads to disaster), loss of fossil fuels, geothermal and wind power, space exploration (etherships instead of spaceships), Martian and Venusian lifeforms, alien invasion of Earth, planet wide terraforming, contact with the past and much more.

One particular note - this is not a story with characters and a plot. The tale unfolds more along the lines of a history professor's class lectures with emphasis on the dominate themes driving each version of man along with the forces shaping their evolution and transitions. The narration is excellent and makes up for what would otherwise be a pedantic soliloquy.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Matt
  • Matt
  • 25-01-2015

Breathtaking scope and vision.

Truly one of the greatest books ever written. There's nothing else like Stapeldon. Make sure to read Starmaker after.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for S. Wells
  • S. Wells
  • 10-12-2012

Future History: "Life, the Universe, & Everything"

A classic, written over 80 years ago, before the results of World War II were known, and before any of the current technology was conceived (the first binary digital computer and the Turing machine were both not developed until 1936). This is definitely a history, not a story, and there are no characters here. It spans billions of years of human evolution, includes genetic engineering (used to both improve the human species and to save it from extinction, which almost occurs a number of times).

The scope of this book is ambitious, and some of Stapledon's future predictions (of the near future) are, neccessarily, inaccurate. But the philosophical impact is, nevertheless, gratifyingly huge. I first read this book in 1970, and it left an impression on me for the rest of my life. I was pleased to find it in audio, and the reader is a good match. I will listen again, and will probably get the other book of his that I have read, "Starmaker".

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for SAMA
  • SAMA
  • 06-09-2016

Flying through the eons

I was blown away by the scope and deep time of this story. As a fan of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series and the setting of Warhammer 40K, this story goes from hopeful to grimdark (read: grim-dark) and back again over and over as it paints a mosaic of mankind's greatest heights and depths. I'm definitely listening to more from this guy.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kevin Lascala
  • Kevin Lascala
  • 05-12-2019

English rubbish made for twits, wankers and tards

"What in God's name are you blathering about?" -Coen Bros.

Olaf acts like he knows what he is talking about. He is a philosopher, and a bad one too. He believes that he is an expert on society and evolution only because he is an Englishman. If you enjoyed these lunatic like ramblings you are an English twit, a British wanker or a limey tard. If an American highschool student turned in any chapter of this novel to his creative writing teacher; they would get a C just because of the time it takes to stringing rubbish together. Oh, another thing, Verne and Wells are dead. Stop with the hither and thither thing. It makes anyone who says it sound stupid. I would not recommend any of this dudes words unto anybody. My boycott of English tenancy has begun with this gem of a wannabe author. Keep your racist literature quarantined to your shrinking island kingdumb.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 12-11-2019

A Sublime work of Genius.

I love this book! the word Visionary does does not even begin to describe it. and given but it was written during the time radio in airplanes we're novelties, makes it all the more incredible.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Julie W. Capell
  • Julie W. Capell
  • 21-04-2019

did not hold my interest

As much as I loved Star Maker, I could not get through this novel. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood, but I gave up after getting about 20% through. It's a bad sign when I am just skimming, reading the beginning of a chapter and then moving on to the next chapter. I kept hoping something would catch my imagination, but it was not to be.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kennedy Connor
  • Kennedy Connor
  • 21-01-2019

i never read anything like this book.

try it if you're ready for something extraordinary. nothing like it.
try it if you're ready for something extraordinary. nothing like it.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Gnorb
  • Gnorb
  • 07-08-2018

Fantastic. Ahead of its time.

Listening to this book, one would expect the story was written relatively recently, maybe the last 30 years. But instead, it was written almost 90 years ago.

The story tracks human evolution through billions of years, touching in the different societies that rise and fall. It’s told entirely in narrative, so don’t expect much in the way of characters, but if you like stories which flesh out a world, this one’s for you.

It is now probably the audiobook I’ve listened to most, and one I expect to enjoy over and over for years to come.

And of course, the performance itself was incredible in that it was effectively invisible. The narrator tells the story so well that you forget him. You forget the story is being told and simply sink into it. Worth your credit and worth your dollar.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 17-11-2016

One of the more unusual books I have read.

Breathtaking in span a book without characters. It is dated but worth it. A unique view on mankind.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jose
  • Jose
  • 14-07-2017

impressive but not interesting

Impressive scope and foresight for a book that was written in 1930,
but ultimately not interesting enough for my taste.
No story or characters, just a bunch of concepts and small events explaining the long story of humanity across 18 civilisations ...

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Patrik
  • Patrik
  • 05-12-2018

Probably ahead of its time

This is very slow and tiresome reading, and only has the occasional interesting idea mixed in with endless verbal diarrhoea. I would suggest reading the origin trilogy by Stephen baxter which is truly imaginative and looks at the long term.