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2016-19 Activities & Challenges > Fall Flurry of Holidays Challenge -- Frankenstein Discussion

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message 1: by Nicole R (last edited Oct 03, 2016 05:37AM) (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7782 comments Several members expressed an interest in reading Frankenstein this October for the Fall Flurry of Holidays Challenge. This includes me! Frankenstein is a classic that I have never gotten to and I have been looking for an excuse.

Feel free to discuss the book here. There will be spoilers!!!! However, please try not to reveal too much too early in the month, give people a chance to get started. I will also post some discussion questions throughout the month.

message 2: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7782 comments Well, just a few pages in I came to my first big revelation. Contrary to popular depictions of this book, Frankenstein is the scientist and not the monster!!!

I had zero idea that popular interpretations had changed this detail. Not only has the detail been changed, the improper term is infused into our daily lives.

Kids dress up as "Frankenstein" for halloween. We "Frankenstein" things together. Even science has something called a "Frankenfish" that is used to describe some genetically engineered salmon.

The book's Frankenstein and The Monster transitioned to The Mad Scientist and Frankenstein.

Not only is it proving a little confusing while reading it because I picture a large, cobbled together monster when I read/hear Frankenstein, but I am also simply amazed at how effectively society co-opted the name for its own purpose.

message 3: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments You will forever be maddened by people getting it wrong! I studied literature at university and Frankenstein was in the syllabus. I remember really enjoying it, more than I thought I would.

message 4: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6020 comments So here's question to ponder as you read .... something that my F2F book club had quite a lively discussion about

In what ways does current society create "monsters"?

message 5: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7782 comments Book Concierge wrote: "In what ways does current society create "monsters"?"

I am going to write from my science perspective about an ecologically dicey food experiment that is currently being considered: Frankenfish (how appropriate that it is named after Frankenstein?!?)

Frankenfish is the oh-so-clever name bestowed by opponents to a specific type of genetically engineered Atlantic salmon. These fish have genes of another fish, an eel-like ocean pout, spliced into their DNA that makes them grow twice as fast as non-genetically engineered Atlantic salmon.

Genetically modified and genetically engineered foods are not new to the market and, while hotly debated, science has shown do not threaten human health. But, Frankenfish made a splash because they are the first genetically modified animal to be proposed to hit the grocery shelves.

The FDA approved the fish as safe for human consumption in late 2015 after years and years of scientific research and debate ranging from academics to Congressmen.

But then FDA immediately banned the importation of these fish (they are raised in Canada and Central America).

Why? The environmental impacts are not well known and could be devastating to the natural populations should the contained genetically engineered Frankenfish escape. The FDA is allowing the marketing of Frankenfish but not the importation and sale until it publishes its final guidelines.

I am not opposed to genetically modified or engineered organisms. And I think they can be extremely beneficial too food production worldwide and nutrition particularly in developing countries.

But splicing together unrelated animals that can potentially escape and breed with natural populations sounds super scary to me. Not saying that it is a permanent barrier, but plenty of research and precautions should be done or we could release a monster that we then have to track to the far reaches of the world to eliminate.

Anyway, this is my scientific soapbox and I probably took your question WAY too literally! lol. But, when I think of the amazing advancements in genetics, I always get a quick flash of Frankenstein in my head.

message 6: by JoLene (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments Thanks for posting a reminder......I actually picked up the audio (it might be one of the ones that are free for prime members). I'll download it and hopefully start listening. I'm in a bit of a reading slump at the moment.

I do remember from Young Frankenstein (which of course is a good source) that Gene Wilder was Dr Frankenstein.

message 7: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6020 comments Last night a local university book group discussion was on H G Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau. When the prof asked the group "what other books are you reminded of?" - Frankenstein was one of the titles.

As a special treat, we were given a tour of the university's Center for Biomedical Modeling, led by the director of that department. Fascinating. And we spent a little time talking about CRISPR (something Hubby and I had been discussing at dinner a few weeks ago).

message 8: by Joi (new)

Joi (missjoious) | 3822 comments Ok- call me crazy, but I am having the HARDEST time getting through this!!!! I started reading probably 10 days ago, and have only made it through the first 2 letters, and 2 chapters!

Am I the only one?!

message 9: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7782 comments Joi wrote: "Ok- call me crazy, but I am having the HARDEST time getting through this!!!! I started reading probably 10 days ago, and have only made it through the first 2 letters, and 2 chapters!

Am I the onl..."

I can see where it would be a challenge to read it, I listened to and and thought it was excellent! It did take a bit to get moving but once it did I thought the time flew by!

message 10: by JoLene (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments So, I finally finished this one!!!
I did listen to the first part, and then read the last 1/2 in one sitting. The book was quite a bit different than I expected. First, of course, my exposure is in the movies and so much of the movies that I've seen focus on how he re-animates the monster. However, that part was very much glossed over.

I wasn't really sure if we were supposed to sympathize with Dr. Frankenstein. Since he is relating his story back to Walden, getting a true picture of Frankenstein was difficult.

message 11: by JoLene (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments Ok, I also just read the comments about Frankenfish. While I'm not sure that genetically modified food is harmful, I try to avoid it. I do a lot of nutrition research and I think that we eat a lot of things that our bodies don't actually know how to process, which means that we may not be getting the nutritional value that we think we are getting.

As an example, they have modified some strains of wheat to only germinate, if it is sprayed with Round Up. (I think that's from WheatBelly)..... also they have bread the wheat to be "sturdier" which is making wheat protein (gluten) molecules larger. It is one speculation that people are more sensitive to gluten because the larger molecule can't be broken down as easily and it irritated the intestinal track which then prevents the correct breakdown and absorption of nutrients.

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