Science enters the gothic horror tradition to unforgettable effect in Mary Shelley's timeless classic.
Frankenstein is the world's first science fiction novel, argues Brian Aldiss in his history of the genre, A Trillion Year Spree. Although also certainly a gothic horror, the book's science fiction credentials spring from the use of science in the fateful experiment that results in the creation of the Professor's monster. Some critics see Dr Frankenstein's dalliance with creation as a cautionary tale of why man should not attempt to play God; others find a parable that suggests we all have to take responsibility for our actions.
Either way, the ghoulish tale of a resurrected patchwork cadaver has lumbered on through the ages to become a perennial movie favourite, from the classic James Whale directed Boris Karloff incarnation of 1931, to the Peter Cushing-led The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), to Mel Brooks' pastiche Young Frankenstein (1974), to Robert DeNiro's stab as the monster in Kenneth Brannagh's more faithful 1994 adaptation. But it's in the newspaper headlines that the story looms largest, with everything from GM crops to cloning experiments attracting the Frankenstein moniker.