Last and First Men
by Olaf Stapledon
A milestone book in Science Fiction - written in 1930 and a huge influence on many, many authors, including Brian Aldiss, Arthur C. Clark, HP Lovecraft and many others. This 1930 book discussed television, atomic weapons & genetic engineering - and that's just in the first few chapters!
I must issue two warnings about this book:
Warning #1: This is not a novel in the traditional sense.
When this book was released it completely confounded the critics. It has no actual characters. The entire story is almost a lecture or documentary told vast millenia in the future by the last living human telling the story of the downfall of man. If you come to this book looking for a plot, story arc or character development, forget it.
Warning #2: This book is also highly political and makes very strong social commentary. It is filled with nationalistic and racial stereotypes, and is about as politically incorrect as it gets. In addition, Olaf Stapledon was a pacifist and had very strong views that sound Marxist (although he claimed not to be a Marxist)
Here is his description of America:
Yet here was a people of unique promise, gifted innately beyond all other peoples. Here was a race brewed of all the races, and mentally more effervescent than any. Here were intermingled Anglo-Saxon stubbornness, Teutonic genius for detail and systematization, Italian gaiety, the intense fire of Spain, and the more mobile Celtic flame. Here also was the sensitive and stormy Slav, a youth-giving Negroid infusion, a faint but subtly stimulating trace of the Red Man, and in the West a sprinkling of the Mongol.
I doubt this book could be published today.
With that said, I am very much enjoying the book. Both for it's amazing scope and it's mind-jarring criticism of humanity's penchant for tribalism.