Monday, July 16, 2012

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

I read Frankenstein many years ago and of course, loved the story which was originally published in 1818. Based on a dream Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly had when she was just 16, the novel tells the story of a scientist who discovers the secret of life and constructs a living human being out of body parts. The creature he creates however, is eight feet tall and hideous. Frankenstein is horrified by what he has created and leaves his laboratory and the monster unattended. The creature escapes and this sets in motion a series of tragic events that ultimately lead to Frankenstein tracking his monster with the hopes of destroying it. The entire Frankenstein narrative is set with another narrative, that of Captain Robert Walton, who while exploring the North Pole, encounters Frankenstein pursuing a huge man driving a dog sled. Frankenstein, old and weakened from his pursuit of the monster, relates to Walton the story of his creature and asks him to continue in his place, the pursuit. Shelley's novel combines both gothic and romance, and is arguably one of the first true science fiction novels. An interesting aspect about this novel is how the name Frankenstein, which was the name of the scientist, became known associated as the name of the monster. Perhaps a suggestion and warning that scientists in their desire for knowledge, might unleash upon the world, creations that will not benefit mankind.

This new reprint of the unabridged but revised third edition of the novel, is enhanced by the steampunk illustrations by Zdenko Basic and Manuel Sumberac. The illustrations add to the horror of Shelley's story by incorporating gears, mechanical devices and steam machines. Zdenko Basic is well known for his steampunk work having illustrated Steampunk: Poe. There's a wonderful review of this book over at by GeekDad.

 Steampunk: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is the second book in the steampunk series. The gothic novel works well with the steampunk subgenre as does Edgar Allen Poe's works. There's a mad scientist, body parts, and a frightening monster, set in the Victorian age when some scientists believed in galvanism - the potential use of electricity to create life. Diehard fans of classic horror or steampunk may not be too enthusiastic, but if this book encourages the younger generation to pick it up and read the story, I am fine with that.

Zdenko Basic is also well know for having directed the short film Guliver, whose trailer is shown below.

If you enjoy steampunk you may want to check out this blog, Steampunk Revue.

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