Everybody knows Mary Shelley as the author of that book most of us had to read in high school or college. What most of us don’t do, is give credit where credit is due. Yeah, she wrote Frankenstein, and EVERYONE knows Frankenstein – or thinks they do. Most people mistakenly call the creation by the name Frankenstein, and that’s one of my big pet-peeves and I’m seriously restraining myself right now . . . . . . . . . there . . . . . . . . . better . . . but have you ever stopped to consider how influential the novel has been on science fiction? No, there’s not a lot of science in the book. I can hardly recall any. But that’s beside the point. The point is that her presence resonates today in any story where man pushes the limits of knowledge, where man shirks the responsibility of his own doings.
I heard or read a comment (I don’t know where and that makes me sad) suggesting that any science fiction story is simply a retelling of Frankenstein. I remember testing it. Blade Runner, my favorite film, came immediately to mind. Yeah, that one was easy: replicants same as the creation. Then I thought – what about 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s nothing but symbolic mysticism stuff. Hal. Oh, yeah. What about Gibson’s Neuromancer? Okay. How about Ender’s Game? Check. (How’s that, you ask? Isn’t Ender himself a creation?) Try it. It’s fun and passes the time waiting at cons. (I’m actually going to test it agains Ben Bova’s Grand Tour series as soon as I get this posted.)
I would like to add that I feel bad not mentioning Shelley’s Last Man, in which she destroys humanity with a plague. Sadly, it’s been lost beneath Frankenstein’s far-reaching shadow.
So, nerd props to you, Mary Shelley!