Sunday, January 1, 2012

Modern Prometheus

Detail of Monster of Frankenstein #1 cover art (1973) by Mike Ploog

Published on January 1, 1818, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus founded two genres of fiction dear to my heart, Horror and Science Fiction. Certainly, there are older instances that could claim the credit, but Shelley's novel isn't merely a "scary tale" or "speculative" fiction; it gets to the philosophical and aesthetic premises that define each of these genres.

As regards Horror, the exploration of transgression, the danger of human genius removed from moral concern, and the hubris of finite humanity imposing its limited awareness upon a Nature that surpasses both comprehension and control, these are themes and topics that characterize the best of the genre since Frankenstein.

For Science Fiction, the intellectual quandaries posed by the novel, such as the concept of "person" or the ethical concerns raised by pressing into uncharted realms of technology, have become staples of speculative fiction. No "Artificial Intelligence" story can be told without being compared to the progenitor of the genre.

Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's Monster (1931)

Therefore, we can't let this day pass by without celebrating this literary treasure:

"I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation."

Powerful stuff!!!

And here are a few vids:

A reading of the critical moment in Chapter 5 of Frankenstein

"It's alive!!!" The classic scene from the 1931 movie, Frankenstein

John Morris' theme music for Young Frankenstein (1974) ;-)


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