Posts Tagged Frankenstein
Herbert George Wells (1866-1946), along with Jules Verne (1828-1905) is generally regarded as the father of science fiction, though it could be argued that the young Mary Shelley beat them both to it with the publication in 1818 of her novel Frankenstein.
The novel came to be written as the result of a competition between herself, her lover, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, to see who could write the best horror story. Frankenstein nevertheless has at its core some of the basic elements of science fiction: the fanatical scientist who pushes science too far and in doing so, creates a monster he cannot control.
But it was H.G. Wells more than anyone else, who in four of his best known novels established the basic ingredients of the science fiction genre, though he preferred to call them scientific romances.*
Time travel and the dystopian future: The Time Machine (1895).
The egotistical scientist who overreaches himself: The Invisible Man (1897).
Alien Invasions: The War of the Worlds (1898).
Space Travel: The First Men in the Moon (1901).
H.G. Wells wasn’t the first writer to feature time travel in a story but he was the first to use the term Time Machine. In a career spanning sixty years, he was a prolific and sometimes prophetic writer of both fiction and non fiction, novels, short stories and articles. But it is for these four novels that he will be most remembered.
All four have been adapted for the cinema but it was another Wells – American actor and director Orson Welles, and his radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds which had the greatest impact on an audience. On the 30th October 1938, Halloween night, Welles directed and performed an updated version of the work as a series of simulated news bulletins, which had a section of the audience convinced that America was being invaded by Martians. Following the broadcast, Welles was castigated for cruelly deceiving his listeners but it made him famous.
*The term science fiction was coined in 1851 but didn’t really catch on until the 1930’s when it was popularised by the American editor Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the first science fiction magazine Amazing Stories in 1926. The Annual Science Fiction Achievement Awards, the ‘Hugo’s’ are named after him.
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I was amused to read that Hammer Films is back in business with the news that Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe is to star in ‘The Woman in Black‘ for them. Rather like most of the characters featured in their movies, I’d assumed that the company was long since dead. But it seems they simply became the undead and were just biding their time until a fresh crop of victims came along. In their heyday (1955 to 1959) the films were considered quite scary, but compared to later shockers like’ The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ and’ Nightmare on Elm Street’, there was more ‘ham’ than horror in classics like ‘Dracula’ and ‘The Curse of Frankenstein’. These films made stars of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and much later Ingrid Pitt, most fondly remembered for her role in ‘Virgin Vampires’ alongside Kate O’Mara.
As a teenager, singer/songwriter Kate Bush dubbed the screams for Hammer, and featured a song entitled ‘Hammer Horror’ on her second album ‘Lionheart’.
But what I found even more interesting is the news that Hammer have gone into the publishing business with a series of gothic horror novels. Award winning author of ‘Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit’, Jeanette Winterson is to pen a novella for them. Imagine the creative possibilities this opens up for the audio book versions of these horror stories. Let’s hope they can persuade Kate Bush to provide the screams . . . we haven’t heard much from her lately and as a big fan, I’d welcome any new sounds from her even if it is just a blood curdling scream of terror.