Future Tense

The Weird Science That Inspired Mary Shelley

Frankenstein reflects a strange intellectual moment in history.

Frankenstein was, at the time of its publication, practically sui generis—a new kind of book, working around the edges of science and story. But if you look at the social and scientific thought surrounding its young creator, Mary Shelley, as she conceived and wrote this book in 1816, Frankenstein’s intensity and strangeness begin to make a new kind of sense. Here’s a short video introduction to Shelley’s influences.

This article is part of the Frankenstein installment of Futurography, a series in which Future Tense introduces readers to the technologies that will define tomorrow. Each month, we’ll choose a new technology and break it down. Future Tense is a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate.