The Science Fiction Effect

Scientific breakthroughs inspire science fiction. But that door swings both ways, because popular science fiction and its reception also affect scientific research and its reputation, as the general public is more likely to read a science fiction novel or see a movie than to discuss the merits of the latest genetic studies. The most popular science fiction comes from someone who follows science and thinks, "What could possibly go wrong?" The classic example is the group of young educated writers who got together around the time Luigi Galvani was getting publicity for his experiments in animating frog muscles with electricity.
While the group of friends at Lake Geneva imagined the ghoulish possibilities of galvanism, one young woman was so horrified by the idea of reanimating corpses that she subsequently had a dream in which she saw "the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together." This dream inspired her to write a horror story in which a "mad scientist" creates a monster out of dead body parts, a monster that wreaks havoc and kills innocents. The author is Mary Shelley. The story, of course, is Frankenstein. Considered by many to be the first true work of science fiction, it was certainly the world's first cautionary tale about the perils of science messing around with life.

There are other examples in a post at Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Author Laura H. Kahn wants to encourage scientists to write more fiction, so that stories about science could be more informative, and maybe a little less horrifying. Link -Thanks, Janice!

Newest 1
Newest 1 Comment

If you read the book she wrote, there is no mention of electricity in there. People have grafted this on after because of schlock horror movies. She mentions elixir of life more than once, perhaps here "I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a
spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet" was the inference for electricity, source project gutenberg.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"The Science Fiction Effect"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More