Stapledon talks the evolutionary progenitors of the first world war and humankind’s journey towards the downfall of the final human race, 2,000 million years in the future… and this is only two of Stapledon’s books!
I approached the ‘sequel’ to Stapledon’s Last and First Men with a great deal of apprehension. Previous comments I had read about Last Men in London lead me to believe that the last-men-communicating-with-the-first-men-device that had been integral and fully utilised in Last and First Men, was utilised here purely for the sake of providing Stapledon with space in which to voice his comments on the First World War and to connect those comments to his larger body of fictional work.
Indeed, while Last Men in London is very much Stapledon’s pronouncement on the First World War, its progenitors and his personal experiences within it, thankfully, the book offers up so much more! Far from being a brief afterword to Last and First Men, Last Men in London is a work that is equal in its scope of ideas and its further fleshing out of the Last Men’s world, culture and mentality. The novel’s focus by no means brushes aside the last men, but rather makes them an essential symbiotic presence alongside the first men.
Last Men in London is not the sequel to Last and First Men, it is its essential companion piece.
Last Men in London takes the ideas of Last and First Men and applies them to the realities of the everyday lives of the first men. Using this focus Stapledon is able to demonstrate just how important the full fulfilment and ongoing longevity of the human race is to me, you and every other first man, woman and child.