Frankenstein at 200
Science Fiction Studies is currently soliciting proposals for a July 2018 special issue celebrating the bicentennial of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), a work that forever changed the genre of science fiction. In Frankenstein, Shelley experimented not only with subject matter, new scientific inventions and their many terrifying and horrific possibilities, but also narrative and form. Her use of multiple frame narratives, nested one within another, was a notable shift from the eighteenth-century novels she grew up reading, and her merging of popular culture’s fascination with science and the Gothic broadened the emerging genre of science fiction. Her refusal to provide a clear didactic lesson left readers to judge for themselves the actions of Victor Frankenstein, and the ending left the Creature’s fate unclear, the possibility of its survival forever impacting future readers and writers. Adaptations and appropriations of Shelley’s narrative and form have become staples of science fiction, and as such, Frankenstein holds a celebrated spot as a creative source that inspires subsequent science fiction.
Shelley’s novel did not always enjoy the critical acclaim and canonical status that it now holds. Nonetheless, Frankenstein continues to resonate and influence the definitions, forms, narratives, and media of contemporary science fiction and contemporary authorship. In what ways does Frankenstein’s influence transform how authors and readers understand the limits of science fiction? How do the genre-bending and metafictional components of Frankenstein influence definitions of science fiction? What does Frankenstein have to say about the current political climate and global issues such as citizenship, immigration, and war? These questions have inspired this call for papers, and the editors envision this special issue as a celebration of Mary Shelley, the legacy of Frankenstein, and the light it continues to cast on science fiction since its publication. Essays that explore the intersections of recent science fiction novels and critical approaches are particularly encouraged, as are essays that consider cross-media adaptations of Frankenstein or Frankenstein-inspired narratives. Other potential topics could include: