William Olaf Stapledon (1886–1960) is the prodigious unknown of science fiction, too little kenned directly, but familiar to readers of the genre anonymously and indirectly through the profound influence of his work on the creative tradition. Other writers began mining the lode of Stapledon’s mythopoeic imagination from the appearance of his first proper book Last and First Men in 1930. The work of Arthur C. Clarke (1917–2008) and the late work of Poul Anderson (1926–2001), to name but two instances, have foundations in Stapledon’s text; and of the two Anderson more closely approximates Stapledon in spirit and achievement than does Clarke. Nevertheless, the Clarke-Kubrick collaboration in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is inconceivable without the example of Last and First Men and Star Maker. The late Sam Moskowitz, whose chapter on Stapledon in Explorers of the Infinite (1963) began the secondary literature on its subject, writes that Last and First Men on its publication “caught both the literati and the science fiction devotees by surprise.” Moskowitz asserts that readers came unprepared “for the cosmic sweep and grandeur of the ideas and philosophical concepts to be found in the work,” which would especially have daunted those looking for an actual novel or an actual literary entertainment.