SciFi and Fantasy Book Club discussion

Frankenstein
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Group Reads Discussions 2012 > "Frankenstein" Sci-Fi or Not Sci-Fi, That is the Question *Spoilers*

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message 1: by Kim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kim Some people consider this the first science-fiction novel and it was written before the "Fathers" of science-fiction (Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and Hugo Gernsback) were even born.

Do you consider it sci-fi?


Benjamin (beniowa79) | 362 comments I haven't read the book yet, but I'd argue that Frankenstein is sci-fi because it has a rational premise. The idea behind the monster's re-animation is based on science as it was understood at the time. Like Everitt said in the other thread, it's probably closer to science fantasy these days.

To make things even more interesting, most bookstores stock this book in the Literature section.


Travis (lathanar) | 3 comments I definitely consider this to be sci-fi.


Chelsea | 13 comments I believe in the early days of sci-fi the word they applied was "scientifiction" (Courtesy of C.S. Lewis)

My working definition of sci-fi is something written in the spirit of "this is where we're going." Mary Shelley lived in a time when the practices of doctors and scientists was, shall we say, less than kosher (I know that wasn't contemporary with Mary, but it's the first thing I thought of in connection with Frankenstein)

Just because it's not all spaceships and circutry doesn't mean it's not sci-fi. Writers tend to write about their own technology plus about ten. Nobody visualized flash drives or cell phones in the fifties (excepting Ray Bradbury, because he was awesome) and we're not visualizing what our kids are going to have. In Mary Shelley's day, electricity was something that either went boom during a storm or got played with by men of questionable morality.


David Merrill | 29 comments I've always seen the term scientifiction attributed to Hugo Gernsback.


Trike | 3470 comments Frankenstein is definitely science fiction, no question.


Riley Dawson | 7 comments I'd probably call it sci-fi. I think the focus on galvanism is important to note here- it had started out as a bit of a parlor trick, but was picking up steam by the time Shelley was writing and I think her fears of what might be done with this new science were what drove her to write the book (aside from the famous ghost-story contest). Additionally, I think that parts of the book might stem from her own experience with the medical world (as Chelsea brought up). Both Mary and her mother had horrible experiences with obstetrics- her mother died in childbirth and Mary had children die (and miscarriages, I think) as well. One could look at Frankenstein as a combination of galvanism and obstetrics, because Victor brought life to and "birthed" the monster. This combination of scientific postulations says sci-fi all over it to me.


message 8: by Patgolfneb (new)

Patgolfneb | 25 comments I see it as sci fi, barely. The structure and presentation owe as much to horror and Greek mythology as anything. Much of early science fiction had themes where the risk and misuse of growing scientific and technological knowledge. For me this is the best reason for crediting it as possibility the first popular science fiction


Banner | 171 comments I've read this question in other places about this book. I think some confusion arises because of the tone of the later movies. But it seems a very serious science fiction to me. Magic was not used or even allude to. The procedure used to reanimate the man was defiantly based on scientific principles (however unrealistic they may have been). This is definitely one of the first science fiction (if not the first as some argue).


message 10: by Shomeret (last edited Sep 09, 2012 10:12PM) (new)

Shomeret | 309 comments I don't think that Frankenstein is the first science fiction. I believe that honor goes to Storia Vera by Lucian of Samosata. The GR page for the English translation can be found at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35...


message 11: by Ctgt (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ctgt I would have to say it's sci/fi. Although, for me, the sci/fi aspect is so minor it's almost irrelevant. The power of this story is the anguish/guilt/rage of both main characters. The "monster" was so desperate for love and acceptance, while Victor was consumed by the quest for knowledge no matter the consequences. Talk about timeless issues.


Jonathan Terrington (thewritestuff) Definitely sci-fi horror for my mind. But it's one of those books that is in a genre and yet not confined to a genre.


message 13: by Bev (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bev (Greenginger) Sci fi not fantasy scifi drivel. Titles are irrelevant. If you put the book in the context of the now it has to be sci fi.
BTW brilliant ideas but writing as with most older classics not to everyones taste.


message 14: by Yezall (new)

Yezall Strongheart | 3 comments There can be so many levels of a genre. You can even have crossovers, such as a YA Sci fi Romance. If it meets certain criteria, it's hard not to call it Sci Fi. In my opinion Frankenstein should definitely be labeled as Sci Fi.


message 15: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (BrendaClough) | 958 comments Definitely science fiction. More impressively, the author was 19 when she wrote it, and it was her first novel.


Angela | 2 comments I had always just considered it standard "horror" but I would consider it sci-fi after actually reading it. Like so many people have said, genres can be misleading and arbitrary.


message 17: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (BrendaClough) | 958 comments It is also worth considering that when Shelley wrote it there was no SF, nor fantasy either, as a genre. When they talked about romances they meant "just about all fiction except for uplifting moral parables." She herself described FRANKENSTEIN as a romance.
Though she did not name the genre -- that honor goes to Hugo Gernsback -- she did create it. We are coming up on some big anniversary of publication -- is it the 200th? There is going to be a celebration at the World Science Fiction Convention.


Lara Amber (LaraAmber) | 665 comments It's definitely science fiction. The monster was created using science and the story dealt with the philosophical issues that face science. "What is going too far?" "Just because we can, does it mean we should?" "Just how responsible are scientists for the outcome of their experiments and the treatment of their test subjects?"

It's more science fiction then a lot of "whee! we have spaceships and lasers, let's kill aliens" titles that never spend time on the impact of scientific advancement or have space marines instead of scientists as main characters.


message 19: by Morgan (new)

Morgan Fables | 4 comments Yeah, very much a sci-fi piece and way ahead of its time. I'd class it more as Sci-Fi/Horror though, rather than outright science fiction.


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