"Science fiction is one of the more secluded parade grounds where private fantasy and public event meet. They call it entertainment". (Aldiss Billion 1) This quote is interpreted to mean that, in the genre of science fiction there is a fusion of fantasy and reality. It is this combination of two opposites that produces the novel categorized today as science fiction. There is one aspect of science fiction that separates it from any other genre. Science fiction can be written as fantasy one day, and read as scientific fact the next. Jules Verne has written about man setting foot on the moon. When read by its original readers the idea of space travel was not a reality. It is now common knowledge that man has walked on the moon, and when this novel is read today no longer is space travel considered to be imaginary. Skillful science fiction novelists brilliantly blend fantasy with reality, composing a very fine line between the two perceptions. When reading, one sometimes does not even realize when the author makes the transition from a plausible concept to a ludicrous one. Science fiction is a relatively new term. Novels were first categorized this way towards the close of the 1920's. This word was first utilized in short stories that appeared in the pulp magazines, of the era. The phrase "science fiction" was considered an enhancement of the term scientifiction. However several British novels were categorized as scientific romances before the 1920's. (Aldiss Trillion 27) Before Frankenstein the only forms of science fiction were "the plays of Aristophanes or some Myrenaean fragment concerning the flight to the sun on a goose's back." (Aldiss Billion 2) In these fantasies there is no blend of reality and fantasy, it is pure fantasy. There is no one story that is accepted to be the first science fiction tale. Science fiction as perceived today originated with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. (Aldiss Trillion 18)
Mary Shelley was the wife of the famous British poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley and daughter of Mary Wollenstonecraft. She was born in 1797 and her mother died soon after birth. Mary Wollenstonecraft married her husband at the age of fifteen. She produced her most famous novel entitled Frankenstein at the age of nineteen. It was published in 1818. (Ash 178)
The origin of the novel came to Shelley in a dream, in which she says she saw "the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy half vital motion" (Bleiler 6) The story starts with several letters written by Captain Walton to his sister. Walton has been navigating the Arctic ocean when he observes a sledge being pushed by a gigantic body. The day after the crew saves Victor Frankenstein from Geneva from a similar sledge. After Victor has recuperated, he recounts his tale to Walton. This account is the largest section of the book. The novel also includes six chapters of the creature explaining his life. (Bleiler 5) Mary's style of narration appears to be very puzzling. However the first reader's of Frankenstein were very familiar with this style of narration. (Aldiss Billion 21)
Shelley brilliantly includes how the monster feels. She analyzes the monster psychologically. "One of Frankenstein's greatest merits is that its tale of exterior adventure and misfortune is always accompanied by a psychological depth." (Aldiss Billion 25)
Throughout the story the readers main interest revolves around Frankenstein's creation. The creature is never given a name, it was referred to in the story as "creature," "daemon," or "monster." For this reason Frankenstein has been thought to be the monster, when he was the creator.
One everlasting fascination of the novel are its ambiguities, Frankenstein is never seen throwing the switch to give his creation life. The language of the...