Frankenstein : how a teenage goth invented science fiction

Brian Aldiss did a great service for science fiction when he identified Frankenstein as the first SF novel.

You can debate the reasons, but science fiction did a pretty solid job of writing women out of its history. Verne and Wells, Asimov and Heinlein were made the written history. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s name was rarely if ever mentioned.

And what a science fiction novel Frankenstein is. A work of modern myth making for the age of science, and a vision of the possible horrors science would inflict on humankind.

If humans aren’t creations of god…then are we just machines? Collections of spare parts?

It’s the same question at the heart of Blade Runner and Westworld. And Mary Shelley got to it a solid 200 years earlier.


These podcasts are audio versions of talks from the course Advanced Science Fiction & Fantasy : writing the 21st century myth.

Find the full course at

Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Director of creative writing at UoL, published with OUP and Cambridge. Currently travelling the world and writing a book.


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