the Little Red Reviewer

Guest Post: thoughts on Frankenstein

Posted on: January 7, 2013

Please welcome today’s guest poster, Allison, from Geek Banter. Allison is a huge science fiction fan, a writer, a gamer, and an all around geek.  When it comes to anime, scifi, and gaming, this is the woman who walks the walk.  On her blog she talks all things speculative – books, movies, tv shows, video games, everything that makes geeks smile.

When I started talking to bloggers about guest posts, I pretty much left the topic up to them.  Allison chose something near and dear to my heart: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  Here’s Allison’s thoughts on and experiences with this beloved early science fiction novel:

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

frankenstein-cover-barry-moserFrankenstein
by Allison from Geek Banter

Before I read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in high school, I believed all the misconceptions the parodies and movie adaptations led me to. Frankenstein, of course, was a greyish-green monster with bolts coming out of its neck that comes alive and kills the mad scientist who created it. Little did I know how much more interesting and terrifying the original story is.

Mary Shelley came up with the idea for Frankenstein when she was visiting with Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and her husband Percy Shelley. They were reading a book of ghost stories together, and Lord Byron challenged everyone to write their own horror story. Mary wanted to come up with a story that “would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror–one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.” I would say she succeeded, because Frankenstein is creepy. It is just a different sort of creepy than I was expecting.

frankenstein_1 copy

The book begins with a series of letters from the seafaring explorer Robert Walton to his sister as he heads out on a dangerous voyage to the North Pole. Of course, this confused me, and I immediately checked the cover to see if I was reading the right book. This was a story about a man who created a monster, wasn’t it? Where was the scientist, the lightning, the lab, and Igor? Well they were all to come (except the Igor part–that character comes from the 1931 film and isn’t from the original story), but Mary had other things to tell about first.

Walton rescues a man named Victor Frankenstein (what? I thought Frankenstein was the name of the monster?)from the ice, nurses him back to health, and hears his story. Victor tells a fasincating tale of his life growing up in Geneva, falling in love, and studying philosophy and chemistry at university. And, of course, he tells Walton about his attempt to take on the role of God and create human life from dead body parts.

And this is really the creepy part of the story–not just the act of experimenting on dead people, but the obsession that overcomes Victor and takes over his entire existence, effectively ruining his happy life. Ironically, he is overcome with revulsion when he finally accomplishes all he strived for and brings the miserable creature into the world.

Frankenstein---Mary-Shelley-925007737-2887690-2

The most interesting thing about the story, I think, is that Frankenstein’s creature is not a pure evil monster. He becomes one after Frankenstein shuns him and refuses to make him a companion so he won’t be alone in the world. I enjoyed the appearance of Frankenstein in the movie Van Helsing, where Frankenstein’s monster attacks one of the main characters, she asks him, “What do you want?” and he simply replies, “To exist.”

Fascinating and horrible (or horribly fascinating, if you will), Frankenstein is likely a read you will never forget even if you want to.

Thanks for inviting me to participate in Vintage SciFi Month, Andrea!

by Allison from Geek Banter

Frankenstein2FW

About these ads

21 Responses to "Guest Post: thoughts on Frankenstein"

Have you checked out the Strange Chemistry re-spin from A E Rought? “Broken”? I really enjoyed it, as a long-time FrankenFan it was nice to see it get a new spin :)

I’ve been hearing good things about Broken, I’ll have to check it out!

I will have to check that out as well! I do love the books Strange Chemistry has been putting out.

Allison, it was my pleasure, thanks for the wonderful guest post! Frankenstein has a special place in my heart too, I first read it in high school.

Who is the monster? the creation, or the man who played God and then abandoned what he made? or even the reader, because no matter who we say is the “bad guy”, we’ve chosen wrong?

I don’t know much about Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron or any of their contemporaries, but posts like this remind me why I love reading alternate history about them, like Tim Powers books. LOL, did Percy Shelley think his young wife was a freak for coming up with something like this? ;)

haha, who knows. I hope he was proud of her for being so imaginative :)

I loved the wrap-around story to the main tale. The imagery is so vivid and desolate.

It is a very desolate, kind of depressing story.

I read Dracula when I was very young and read some of the other creature novels when I was a teen but for some reason never picked up Frankenstein until a few years ago. I’m not sure why other than to agree with you Allison in that I had this idea of what it was in my head from bad adaptations and thus stayed away from it.

And that is a mistake. Like many of these classic monster stories, there is a lot to be gleaned from reading them, including the examination of who the real monster is. Frankenstein is such an interesting look at humanity and what it means to be human. It is also an interesting barometer about the thoughts of science back then and has some interesting applicability throughout history when looking at Dr. Frankenstein’s reaction to the culmination of his experiments.

I can easily see why this book still fascinates all these years later.

Great job Allison!

Thanks! I’ve actually never read Dracula, but I’d like to at some point. Frankenstein is an interesting look at humanity, that’s for sure.

It was quite a revolutionary tale for its time.
Have you ever seen the movie Gothic? It recounts that weekend Shelley came up with the idea for Frankenstein and it quite creepy in its own right.

That does sound creepy. I have never heard of it!

Interesting post, I reread Frankenstein recently and was very disappointed; I didn’t like the story within a story within a story, and didn’t engage with any of the characters… an extraordinary book all the same. I did love rereading Dracula though, and thought it really stands out as a classic! (Glad to see you pictured the Frankenstein editon with the illustration by my favourite artist, Joseph Wright!)

Well I definitely didn’t engage with any of the characters either, but I just found the writing so creepy and the story so filled with despair, it was fascinating.

Especially when you think how young she was when she wrote it! I found Dracula quite humorous, I loved the image of him wearing a straw boater and going around London!

I’ve still not read Frankenstein, but I really want to. I also wish I’d seen the live stage show from Danny Boyle when it came around last year. I hope it gets released on DVD.

Jamie

That would be interesting to see! Although I think I prefer happy plays to depressing ones.

I really think this’ll be an interesting read one day. If I can sit down and open the book. :-D

I read this book for the first time just this last year and I was quite surprised by the depth of it. No silly 10 cent matinee movie relying more on the questionable lighting than the makeup to provide believable monsters. No, this was truly a shocking book. By the end, I wasn’t sure who was the worse monster – Dr. Frankenstein or his monstrous creation.

[...] in it, which is subtle and yet not. If I hadn’t just read a YA retelling of the book and a blog post on its conception and themes I wouldn’t even have thought to make the connection. Finn’s past contained a ton of [...]

A great book which has generated many misconceptions, not least of which is that Frankenstein’s creation is the monster. It’s also interesting that people frequently call the monster frankenstein when that is in fact the creator.
Great post. You should definitely read Dracula – another great book.
Lynn :D

Great post!

I remember having some of the same reactions to reading the original for the first time, as all of my preconceptions were based on the early film versions.

I think the original is great — especially for when it was written. There’s so much more empathy for the “monster” than you expect. Though as a scientist, I can say that we all will occasionally give into yelling out “It’s ALIVE!!” in the lab… :)

join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

About this redhead, etc.

Redhead is a snarky, non-politically correct 30-something who reviews mostly science fiction and fantasy and talks about all sorts of other fun scifi and fantasy geekery. She once wrote a haiku that included the word triskaidekaphobia.

This blog contains adult language and strong opinions. The best way to contact her outside of this blog is twitter, where she is @redhead5318 .

2013 Hugo Awards

Looking for my reviews of the Hugo winners and nominees? Save time. Click here.

Bookstore Bookblogger Connection

You're a book blogger too? Or a Bookseller? Come get involved in a wonderful new project Bookstore Bookblogger Connection!

Follow me on Twitter!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,002 other followers

2013 Sci-Fi Experience

Lies of Locke Lamora Read Along

Vintage SF

Local Friends

Categories

FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
%d bloggers like this: