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10 Most Crucial British Science Fiction Novels 1


By Mary Shelley

In July 1816, 19-year-old Mary Godwin and her lover, the poet Percy Shelley whom Mary later married, visited Lord Byron at the Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva. As a result of climatic fluctuations caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, the weather was miserably wet and cold.

Unable to picnic and ramble, the shining stars of the Romantic movement found themselves cooped up indoors. Because Monopoly had yet to be invented, they talked of reanimation and “galvanism”, or passing electrical current through the muscles of corpses to produce movement. Byron then suggested that everyone write spooky stories.

In an atmosphere so febrile that Mary later recalled the book’s genesis as a waking dream in which she saw “a pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together”, the tale of Victor Frankenstein and his monster was born. So too, you could argue, was modern science fiction.

If you like this, why not try?
Natural History by Justina Robson (2003)
Because its bio-engineered post-humans are the Monster’s far-future descendents.

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