The Writing Styles of 2 Prominent British Science Fiction Authors




The Writing Styles of 2 Prominent British Science Fiction Authors

"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 1920\'s. 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 1920\'s.
(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 goose\'s 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 Shelley\'s 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) Mary\'s style of narration appears to be very
puzzling. However the first reader\'s 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 Frankenstein\'s 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
Frankenstein\'s 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 animation…
As 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