My first reaction as I started Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was:
It is an epistolary novel. Nobody told me that! Wait, when has that e**spoiler alert**
My first reaction as I started Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was:
It is an epistolary novel. Nobody told me that! Wait, when has that ever come up in a conversation anyway?
So, the book started off with one of the characters writing letters to his sister while he's on a sea voyage.
The second thing that I noticed was boy, this guy can talk! So far, his chatter has not diminished my enjoyment of the book.
Mr. Monster has already made his first appearance although we only get to admire him from a distance. Now, I am listening to the good doctor's narrative.
A quote that stuck with me:
(On the subject of friends) "we are unfashioned creatures, but half made up, if one wiser, better, dearer than ourselves -- such a friend ought to be -- do not lend his aid to perfectionate our weak and faulty natures."
Some thoughts that formed while reading:
The author uses a clever device to keep from providing her readers the recipe to making their own monsters:
"But this discovery was so great and overwhelming, that all the steps by which I had been progressively led to it were obliterated, and I beheld only the result."
Making a behemoth who could crush him easily had not been Frankenstein's first choice. However:
"As the minuteness of the parts formed a great hindrance to my speed, I resolved contrary to my first intention, to make the being of a gigantic stature."
The monster spoke French! I may be coming off as a goofball with this observation but since this is the first time I am reading the book, I didn't already know this.
That the monster had no concept of right and wrong. We are taught about morality as kids and we retain those teaching as grown ups. He did not receive any such lessons. Is it fair to expect him to not steal when hungry? To not enter someone's home unbidden? That got me thinking about something entirely different. If a creature is put together like a jigsaw from parts belonging to other people, would the brain retain the teachings imparted to the donor?
Another thing that I noticed was that Frankenstein is a wimp. He is also a drama queen and very very selfish! Evidence:
"The poor victim, who on the morrow was to pass the awful boundary between life and death, felt not as I did, such deep and bitter agony."
That for the girl who is innocent and yet being tried for murder because of him!
I guessed the meaning of verdure because Botany! Verdant means green and I already knew that, so it wasn't that big a jump.
That Asians are supposed to be slothful and Mahometans forbid their women to...well, do anything other than simply exist, I guess.
Since there is nothing in this novel, if not foreshadowing, it got me thinking. Did I enjoy the book a little less because I knew about the murderous rampage that the monster would be going on? I don't think so. Maybe, that is why spoilers for most books, do not mean the end of the world for me either.
Words that stayed with me:
"It was a lovely sight, even to me, poor wretch! who had never beheld aught beautiful before." Made me feel sad for the poor monster. The illustration above is about the first time he saw his reflection.
"I collected bones from charnel-houses; and disturbed, with profane fingers,the tremendous secrets of the human frame." So perfectly graphic and shudder-inducing!
"I will gut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends." Now, that's a threat!
"...extinguish that life which I had so thoughtlessly bestowed." This, from the jackass.
Allusions and a useful resource to help identify them:
"I was like the Arabian who had been buried with the dead, and found a passage to life, aided only by one glimmering, and seemingly, ineffectual light."
The Arabian is Sinbad and the lines allude to the practice of burying a surviving spouse with the dead one! Find it and the rest of the allusions here.
A quote that stayed with me:
“If I have no ties and no affections, hatred and vice must be my portion; the love of another will destroy the cause of my crimes, and I shall become a thing, of whose existence everyone will be ignorant.”
It made me think if it is our relationships and loved ones that make us human.
A new word that I learned:
Siroc is probably a variation of sirocco, which is a “hot dust-laden wind from the Libyan deserts.
After reading the following lines:
“eradicating the remains of my melancholy, which every now and then would return by fits, and with a devouring blackness overcast the approaching sunshine.”
I felt the similarity between Frankenstein and the monster he created even more clearly. I can’t really explain why they seem like the same person.
I am really glad that I did read this book. More than anything, I came from it feeling sorry for the poor creature that Frankenstein created and then abandoned. It gave me a new appreciation for the rules of society, ethics, morality that we take for granted. Without it, we might all turn into monsters.
I also wanted to point out that while the monster was never taught right from wrong, Frankenstein had been. Yet, the creature seemed kinder than his creator.
I don’t think any other conclusion was possible but I still think that it ended rather abruptly.
**spoiler alert** Fixing Hanover by Jeff VanderMeer: ★★ The Empire's Chief Engineer warns the villagers that the Empire might be coming for him but the**spoiler alert** Fixing Hanover by Jeff VanderMeer: ★★ The Empire's Chief Engineer warns the villagers that the Empire might be coming for him but they don't believe it!
The Steam Dancer (1896)by Caitlín R. Kiernan: ★★ A woman who had an arm and leg amputated and her mechanic who builds her new ones.
Icebreaker by E. Catherine Tobler: ★★★ A widow sets out to Antarctica to bury her husband.
Tom Edison and His Amazing Telegraphic Harpoon by Jay Lake: ★★★ What's the best way to kill a Nephilim? With a telegraphic harpoon, of course!
The Zeppelin Conductors’ Society Annual Gentlemen’s Ball by Genevieve Valentine: ★★★★ Some events from the life of a Zeppelin conductor.
Clockwork Fairies by Cat Rambo: ★★★ A man finds the wife he longs for. I kinda guessed the ending.
The Mechanical Aviary of Emperor Jala-ud-din Muhammad Akbar by Shweta Narayan: ★★★★ Mechanical birds and stories about love & revenge.
Prayers of Forges and Furnaces by Aliette de Bodard: ★★★ The old gods have all been killed, replaced by the machine gods, except for one.
The Effluent Engine by N. K. Jemisin: ★★★★ Haiti decides to win against France by using dirigibles and a woman finds love. Loved the story but the last sentence sucked.
The Clockwork Goat and the Smokestack Magi by Peter M. Ball ★★ A clockwork Goat who can tell you all the secrets of a powerful magus!
The Armature of Flight by Sharon Mock: ★★★★ Wings.
The Anachronist’s Cookbook by Catherynne M. Valente: ★★ Lunar Industry and the movement that stopped it.
Numismatics in the Reigns of Naranh and Viu by Alex Dally MacFarlane: ★★★★ How Viu defeated a king by minting coins.
Zeppelin City by Eileen Gunn & Michael Swanwick: ★★★★ Naked Brains, Zeppelins, Radios and Revolution!
The People’s Machine by Tobias S. Buckell: ★★★★ Another version of how Holmes came into being with a lot of alternate history thrown in.
The Hands That Feed by Matthew Kressel: ★★★ Two women do what they can to survive.
Machine Maid by Margo Lanagan: ★★★ A wife finds out the secrets her maid's been keeping from her.
To Follow the Waves by Amal El-Mohtar: ★★ A dream maker's dream comes true!
Clockmaker’s Requiem by Barth Anderson: ★★ A clockmaker invents a clock that would make time the same for everyone-blasphemy!
Dr Lash Remembers by Jeffrey Ford: ★★ Spores cause the line between reality and imagination to blur.
Lady Witherspoon’s Solution by James Morrow: ★★★ Drugs that could change the world.
Reluctance by Cherie Priest: ★★ Zombies and dirigibles!
A Serpent in the Gears by Margaret Ronald: ★★★ Cyborgs will take over the world.
The Celebrated Carousel of the Margravine of Blois by Megan Arkenberg: ★★★ Grief can make you stop living.
Biographical Notes to “A Discourse on the Nature of Causality, with Air-planes” by Benjamin Rosenbaum: ★★ The world if the East had the power to take colonies.
Clockwork Chickadee by Mary Robinette Kowal: ★★ I wouldn't mess with the Chickadee, if I were you!
Cinderella Suicide by Samantha Henderson: ★ Skipped most of it. A lot of terms thrown around and no explanation!
Arbeitskraft by Nick Mamatas: Skipped!
To Seek Her Fortune by Nicole Kornher-Stace: ★★ A mother tries to do what she thinks is best for her son.
The Ballad of the Last Human by Lavie Tidhar: ★★ A dog and a spider set out treasure hunting. ...more
**spoiler alert** The book begins with Elena fleeing her overbearing mother who has spent her life filling her only child with self doubts and regrets**spoiler alert** The book begins with Elena fleeing her overbearing mother who has spent her life filling her only child with self doubts and regrets. Right away, we see how broken Elena is and hope that her aunt, Rosemarian, can put her together. Then we meet the aunt and lose all hope! As eccentric as her name, Rosemarian uses that eccentricity to hide a life overshadowed by regular panic attacks. The one thing that keeps her going is that her dead husband believed in her.
They come across a Mayan spell which would heal them and take away their regrets, if before New Year's Eve, they can decode the glyphs. The story is about how a Elena used to thinking like a scientist does, starts to believe a spell could cure her. And about how they both realize that healing comes from within and doesn't require spells.
I can see that some people would be put off because the conversations between the character are too formal to sound like real conversations. However, given that the two females aren't like the average person who can function in the society, I think they actually would sound this way.
I liked the humor threaded through the story, it made the book lighter than it would have been without it.
My favorite character was Bit of Nothing.
A good book, not too long and doesn't come off as being preachy....more