Best 1932 Adventures (8)
April 12, 2017
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1932 adventure novels. Happy 85th anniversary!
Olaf Stapledon’s Radium Age sci-fi adventure Last Men in London.
This is the story of Paul, a teacher telepathically possessed by a member of an evolved human species (the Last Men) living in the distant future, and one of Paul’s students: “Humpty,” a London teenager and “supernormal” in whom there is “some promise of a higher type.” As adolescents, the reader is led to believe, all “submerged supermen” like Humpty (whose nickname refers to his oversized cranium) are misfits: they don’t take themselves seriously, they don’t want to get ahead, they despise athletics, they’re puzzled and bored by religion and patriotism, they don’t regard sexuality as shameful, and they remain idealistic long after childhood. Humpty outlines a plan to found a new human species — one that will control the world and eliminate or domesticate the “subhuman hordes”; however, luckily for the rest of us, he succumbs to despair.
Fun fact: Stapledon writes insightfully about homo superior — he’s credited with coining the term — in three of the four novels for which he’s remembered.
Let me know if I’ve missed any 1932 adventures that you particularly admire.