“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 1920s. 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 1920s. (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 gooses 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 Shelleys 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) Marys style of narration appears to be very puzzling. However the first readers 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 Frankensteins 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 Frankensteins 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 novel makes it very easy to confuse the two main roles and believe that Frankenstein is the creature. Shelley also frequently describes Victor Frankenstein as if he were the monster. “We restored him to animationAs soon as he showed signs of life we wrapped him up in blankets. I often feared that his suffering had deprived him of understanding He is generally melancholy and despairing.
This is not Shelley describing the monster, but Shelley describing Victor. (Aldiss Trillion 42) Mary structured much of the book around intelligence. Victor Frankenstein is not the only character in the novel searching for knowledge, throughout the book Walton and the monster are also looking for enlightenment. (Bleiler 7) “The monster, product of guilty knowledge, threatens the world with evil progeny. ” (Bleiler 7) Frankenstein is yet another work of science fiction which was not thought to be realistically possible by most people until recently.
This is an excerpt from criticism of science fiction authors, written just 15 years ago “Even today, when our diet is the unlikely, Mary Shellys Frankenstein seems extremely far fetched, how much more so must it have appeared on publication in 1818. ” (Bleiler 3) Mary Shelly was one of the few that thought it might be possible to give life to an inanimate creature. “The event on which this fiction is founded has been supposed, by Dr. Darwin and some of the physiological writers of Germany as not of impossible occurrence. “(Shelley xxvii)
Today with the advancements recently made with cloning, it almost seems possible to create a life form from inanimate objects. Because scientists are able to clone a sheep, monkey, and theoretically a human, it makes it seem very plausible that a work of fiction, such as Frankenstein might eventually become reality. “The attention psychoanalysis has drawn to the few but powerful archetypal figures in the psyche paved a way for the acceptance of diverse arts-surrealism, photography, cinema, and science fiction, where aliens, robots, spaceships, planets, and so on act as counters in a complex mental game.
A character landing on the moon can be a symbol of conquest, of fulfillment, or of alienation, depending on context. Writers perhaps understand this more readily than mainstream critics, who do not always distinguish between characters and personages. Wells had the new language off from the start. ” (Aldiss Trillion 117) Herbert George Wells was born in the suburbs of London in a place called Bromley. After failed attempts at being a tailors and chemists apprentice he won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science. He studied there for about one year.
Wells then tried to become a teacher, but failed. It was as a last resort when he turned toward a writing profession in which he enjoyed overnight success. (Ash 204) Wells originated many commonly used science fictional ideas. He was the first writer to ever use evolution as a way to look back in time, as well as forward. In his novel entitled The Grisly Folk Wells tells the story of mankind struggling against the primitive Neanderthals. He also wrote a book called A Story of the Stone Age. Wells was the first to look far into the worlds past as well as its future.
Aldiss Trillion 120) Wells had three main qualities that made him the literary success that he was. He was an inquiring person and searched for knowledge in all of his stories. Wells also had the natural ability to observe the world the way it is, with no prejudices or biased opinions. He also avoided writing lead characters in any one of his novels. This did not permit the reader to identify with the person and accept anything offered. (Aldiss Trillion 120) War of the Worlds was first published in 1897. It is the story of Martian invaders that landed on earth.
It is told by an Englishman who observes the invaders moving in on London, while the army is doing everything they can to hold them off. London is quickly evacuated before the invaders die, they were killed by common microbes. Wells does not reveal the Martians appearance until over halfway into the book. When they are seen, they are horrific looking. (Aldiss Trillion 121) “They were, I now saw, the most unearthly creatures it is possible to conceive. They were huge round bodies-or rather, heads-about for feet in diameter, each body having in front of it a face.
This face had no nostrils-indeed the Martians do not seem to have any sense of smell, but it had a pair of very large dark-coloured eyes, and just beneath this a kind of fleshy beak. In the back of this head or body-I scarcely know how to speak of it-was a single tight tympanic surface, since known to be anatomically an ear, though it must have been almost useless in our denser air. In a group round the mouth were sixteen slender, almost whip-like tentacles, arranged in two bunches of eight each. ” (Wells 111) Wells used three standards to produce The War of the Worlds. He writes about the present day.
While the reader recognizes the time as his own, he is being trained to except the far fetched appearance of what follows. (Aldiss Trillion 122) This is the method Wells uses to create the fine line between fantasy and reality that was discussed earlier in this report. Secondly, he incorporates the newer scientific discoveries into his work, such as the theory of evolution, and microorganisms. Lastly he creates a society like todays that welcomes criticism of itself and of mankind. (Aldiss Trillion 122) “Wells spoke of two kinds of thinking, directed and undirected thought.
In The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind (1931), Wells talks in chapter two of directed thought as something which enters philosophy with Plato and which defines the scientific aspect of modern civilization. Undirected thought is a sort of muzzy version of thinking, imaginative play, almost what we would call a hypnoid state. ” (Aldiss Trillion 121) “Wellss writing moves gradually from undirected to directed thought. From a fiction capable of ironic and ambivalent tolerances to a functional fiction directed towards proof and prediction. ” (Aldiss Trillion 121) Science fiction is not classified as an entity.
It is the similar writing accomplishments of many men and women, which for handiness we categorize these authors under the label of science fiction. Many authors resent the classification; many take pride in it. (Aldiss Trillion 20) Science fiction is considered to be one of the great literary successes of the later half twentieth century. Like authors of any other genre, science fiction writers are considered to be artists. (Aldiss Trillion 13) It is clear that Wells and Shelly should be considered more then just good writers of their time. They should be considered brilliant artists that have created many masterpieces.