Olaf Stapledon: Personal Reflections on Cosmic Inspiration from a Pioneering Visionary

by Oliver Markley


When I heard of the plans for a special issue of the Journal of Futures Studies on the interplay between science fiction and futures work, I immediately knew that I wanted to contribute an essay about Olaf Stapledon—why his writing is of such relevance to what I will describe as the central evolutionary challenge of the human race; and how his work suggests that human consciousness can be enhanced for this challenge to be resolved successfully in the very long-term future. This essay begins with an exposition of Stapledon’s cosmically futures-oriented science fiction and ends with a visionary illustration of how his work points to a promising “new paradigm” direction of development for futures studies involving what are currently called nonordinary states of consciousness (NOSC). Thus, a number of concepts are introduced that are
well beyond what is considered credible from the standpoint of the currently dominant paradigm of social reality. A preliminary version of this essay includes evidence of their credibility, as well as promising directions of exploration for both FS and SF—but alas, due to length limitations they had to be abandoned along with a number of informative footnotes. They are available, however, in an online expanded preprint [www.imaginalvisioning.com/Stapledon- Expanded-Preprint].

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