Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 8, No. 7. June 13, 1945
Old Man in New World, by Olaf Stapledon (George Allen and Unwin) is a pretty little story mainly concerned with the future of our glorious Human Race. It seems that some time after the end of the present war there was a tremendous development of the spirit of altruism among people throughout the world, resulting in the foundation of a Universal Brotherhood of Men; the picture of this civilisation which Mr. Stapledon etches stroke by stroke is just too sweet but its detail tends to log on close examination.
Mr. Stapledon presents this situation to us, and indicates vaguely the existence of some Great Problem without giving us a clear idea or even the means of forming a clear idea of its nature; he then does nothing about it.
To entertain, this sort of thing has to be convincing; Old Man in New World does not convince. Mr. Stapledon's humans are annoyingly priggish; one cannot sympathise with them; nor with the old man bewildered by the civilisation he has helped create.
The author must be given credit for sincerity; sincerity is perhaps his one saving grace. He has tried hard to evoke sympathy, but in failing, has brought the whole story to failure.
People today have enough problems to face without worrying about those of a hypothetical, unhuman race in a hypothetical new World.
There may be those who can find a vital message in the story; to those few this story may appeal.