How many of us read The Scarlet Letter in high school? (Or was supposed to anyway, right?) It’s a classic story of love, crime, punishment, and redemption. While there are some creepy moments, and Hester’s daughter is often hinted at being a demon-spawn, there’s not really a whole bunch of sf or f going on in there. So, is this early American scribe (and obvious Puritan-hater) really worthy of Nerd Props?
Hawthorne wrote some of earliest science fiction stories of American literature. Initially, “Young Goodman Brown” appears to simply be another anti-puritan rant, but it may be a dark, dark fantasy with witches and human sacrifice and the Devil . . . maybe. On the more unambiguous front, “The Birthmark” explores the concept of altering a female’s appearance to meet the scientist’s conception of beauty, and “Rappaccini’s Daughter” delves into the consequences of what happens when a medical researcher raises his daughter to tend poisonous plants. Both stories address the whole Frankensteinian-god-complex thing, but also, as with The Scarlet Letter – and most everything he wrote – they analyze and critique the nature of humanity. Isn’t that with SF about anyway?