Sunday, July 15, 2018

Your clone wakes up in space facing your own dead clone. Now what? ;-)

Six WakesSix Wakes by Mur Lafferty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A brilliant novel with so many delicious treats: mindmaps and cloning and a murder mystery with a big payoff. I loved the characters but the solution of the crime is pure gold.

What an awesome story!!!

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Raven Stratagem (The Machineries of Empire, #2)Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brilliant story. The worldbuilding of Ninefox Gambit comes to fruition here. The story also packs a killer plot twist & reveal, though there is plenty of foreshadowing of the possibility, so it's both surprising and inevitable.

One of my favorite 2017 sci-fi novels. :-)

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Friday, June 22, 2018

Ninefox Gambit - the joy of great world building!

Ninefox Gambit (The Machineries of Empire #1)Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not only a good novel, this is also a window into an enormous world in conflict, and it begins in media res, with brutal and confusing warfare. At the center of the story is Kel Cheris, an infantry captain and brilliant mathematician, and Shuos Jedao, a disgraced general from half a millennium ago, who only wins. Because of his knack for victory, Jedao is resurrected by a despotic empire again and again, and each time needs a living being to which he is attached. This time it is Cheris, and it is the chance Jedao has been waiting for!

What are they fighting over? Calendrical heresy! That likely means nothing to you if you haven't read the story, but it suffices to say that a calendar is a set of rules, "fueled by the coherence of our beliefs." In other words, it's a society-wide convention and must be adhered to for the empire's technologies and governance to function.

I love the vastness of the story. The wealth of exotic peoples: Rahal (big bosses), Andan ($$$), Nirai (tech people), Vidona (judges and enforcers), Shuo (game strategists), Kel (loyal warriors), and the borgs (servitors).

I originally rated the book 3 stars because it is so DENSE with world-building, I had trouble interpreting the story's value. After a few days (and halfway through Raven Stratagem), I realize it was much better than my first impression. It needed to percolate in my echo chamber.

It is much more than a revolution-vs-empire tale because underlying everything is a non-magical, magic system (this is more fantasy than sci-fi despite all the theming), one based on universal enforcement of calendrical rules. This theme is pervasive and coherent, and (at least to me) somewhat disconcerting, until the aha! moment. It's genius how the realization makes the elusive story comprehendible. I'm looking forward to reading the next ones. :-)

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Great Peek Into a Very Special Fantasy World

Children of Thorns, Children of Water (Dominion of the Fallen, #1.5)Children of Thorns, Children of Water by Aliette de Bodard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story, a novelette of just under 12000 words, is not only a wonderful story of loyalty and friendship but also a glance through a display window into a dark and vivid world. De Bodard's prose is excellent, especially the settings. I am excited to read more of the Dominion of the Fallen.

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Conjuring of Light - last installment of the Shades of Magic series.

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3)A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved the Shades of Magic saga. The world building was unique and made sense in the story. The characters are memorable, their positive and negative attributes. The magic system is coherent and well-matched for the world, and this author isn't afraid of love or death. Both were well portrayed.

Thank you for sharing such a remarkable story!

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It’s no wonder Mom couldn’t live with you. You always think you know everything, but you can’t learn common sense from a book.
“They’re not crisis actors,” you, my younger brother, said. We sit in Mom’s living room, in the tiny house she bought after fleeing your home in Florida.
I leaned forward and pounced. “Don’t you think it’s funny how they always show up after a school shooting?”
Our brother Jerry nodded. He and his wife Karen, afraid of flying, came out by train from the East Coast for Mom’s 90th birthday. Mom looked apprehensive though. When she lived with you, your brown-skinned wife, and liberal children, she was always outnumbered, but this is her house, not yours. Here she can speak her mind and eat pulled pork without you rolling your eyes.
You regarded me dazed. That’s your natural state. I can never tell when you’re smoking pot.
“You do know they’re all different people though?” you asked with characteristic snideness.
“How do you know that?” I asked. “How do you know anything about them?”
“Mom,” you said, dismissing me. “Don’t you remember Stoneman Douglas competing against Wade’s marching band? They were our rivals. We met them riding coasters in Busch Gardens after their performance at States. They’re a spitting image of your grandchild.”
“I always loved watching Wade march,” Mom said. This is the day after her 90th birthday party, the one I catered. You don’t even live in Sacramento.
“And you think they’re not coached?” Karen said. “You think teenagers make speeches like that? And how do journalists find them? I’ll tell you how. It’s the Fake News Media.”
“Actually, the falsehoods are the claims our education system is wanting. These kids don’t even surprise me. This generation is impressive.” You crossed your arms and gave a crisp smile. “One reason I’m optimistic about our future is the wisdom of our youth.”
“It’s video games,” Jerry said at the same time Karen said, “It’s the movies.”
“All the violence,” they said together.
“No,” you said. “The entire world watches movies and plays video games. Only one country allows you to walk into a gun shop, buy a weapon, and shoot up your high school: the USA.”
“Well, nobody’s taking our guns,” my husband Bruce, watching from the hall, said. Once he tackled me on the roadside and took my keys. That’s when Mother Mary came to me, but you said she wasn’t real, even when she was right in front of me. That’s how you are, always believing you know everything, but what do you really know, you vegan hippie impostor? We protested against Vietnam. What did you protest against? Trump?
“I wish they could take all your guns,” you said. “But I’d be satisfied if the government banned bump stocks, high-capacity magazines, and assault weapons like the AR-15.”
“An AR-15 isn’t an assault rifle,” Bruce said. “AR means America’s Rifle.”
“It’s a semi-automatic version of an M-16,” you said. “Citizens shouldn’t have military weapons.”
“Why not? Law-abiding citizens should be able to have any gun they want,” Bruce said. “What if some traitor president like Hillary Clinton sends the government to seize my property?”
“In that case, you wouldn’t be law-abiding,” you said. “What does this have to do with Clinton?”
“You’re just mad because you voted for her,” I said to general assent.
“Lock her up! Lock her up!” Bruce began, and all of us added our voices for a few rounds. Mom laughed. Before she looked unhappy with where the conversation was headed. It will take time for her to understand she is not outnumbered anymore.
Incidentally, my smart-ass brother, that’s a great parallel for how it feels at a Trump rally, where we can be white without guilt and speak hard truths. But you don’t get that either. You don’t understand Trump is what the counterculture is about now. I laugh at the Fake News Media making fun of his bone spur deferment, but listen to “Alice’s Restaurant” and tell me the difference between pretending you are crazy or faking bone spurs. Guess how many of my friends wanted to fight in Vietnam: Zero.
“Lock her up?” you asked. “Isn’t it more likely your guy sees the inside of a cell?”
“I guess we’ll see,” I said.
“I can’t wait,” you said.
“Neither can I.”
“Can’t we talk about something else?” Mom said. “Yesterday was my birthday.”
“Even at ninety you only get one day,” you said, and right there, you lost. That’s why we take care of Mom now, because we care about her.
You know it too. The room is silent but our chewing the pulled pork you so despise. This is what freedom tastes like.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Dracula Gender Tropes and Victorian Sexual Panic

Almost 2000 years ago, in AD 54, St. Paul wrote the First Epistle to the Corinthians, wherein it states (verse 11:8), “For neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” Taking this to heart, over the centuries, men took possession of their creations and liberated them from the burden of property and legal rights, in order to shelter the fairer sex from the quotidian mental toils of earthly existence.

By 1792, in Mary Wollstonecraft’s time, most women had conformed to this arrangement:

Women are told from their infancy, and taught by the example of their mothers, that a little knowledge of human weakness, justly termed cunning, softness of temper, outward obedience, and a scrupulous attention to a puerile kind of propriety, will obtain for them the protection of man; and should they be beautiful, everything else is needless, for, at least, twenty years of their lives.

Minister William Jay, at a wedding in Argyle Chapel, Bath, on August 16, 1801, gave this lesson: “Nothing will increase your influence and secure your usefulness more than being in subjugation to your own husbands.” This submission and corresponding protection had a legal name, feme covert, meaning women relinquished their property and surrendered their self-determination upon marriage in exchange for their husband’s protection.

The Married Women’s Property Act of 1882, which passed Parliament fifteen years before Dracula was published, changed these rules:

A married woman shall, in accordance with the provisions of this Act, be capable of acquiring, holding, and disposing by will or otherwise, of any real or personal property as her separate property, in the same manner as if she were a feme sole, without the intervention of any trustee.

From this fertile liberal soil springs Mina Harker, a stark contrast to the typical Gothic woman. It is wrong to classify Mina as the Woman-In-Peril archetype, because though Dracula targets her, she is empowered with her typewriter and shorthand, organizing diaries and case studies. She is no damsel-in-distress by choice. Indeed, she uses her agency to foil Dracula’s assaults. When the men intend to withhold the extent of Dracula’s evil, she argues, telling them, she “had read all the papers and diaries, and that [she and Jonathan], having typewritten them, had just finished putting them in order.” Arthur reacts by asking, “Did you write all this, Mrs. Harker?”, which today certainly seems condescending.

Simultaneously, though, Mina retains her traditional role as a virtuous woman and good wife. She is faithful to Jonathan when he is months tardy and holds motherly values dear. Self-sufficient enough to travel to Prague, she nurses Jonathan to health, and they marry. Later, she independently decides to read his diary and consults Van Helsing.

Later, she comforts Arthur writing, “I felt this big sorrowing man’s head resting on me, as though it were that of a baby that some day may lie on my bosom, and I stroked his hair as though he were my own child.” Only when Jonathan stops telling her their secrets does Dracula gain access to her chamber, but even then, she fights back. In fact, she allows Van Helsing to use her hypnotically as a window into Dracula’s mind.

If Mina is the Mother figure, Lucy, by contrast, is the Whore or Fallen Woman. The young beautiful narcissist attracts a bevy of admirers: Quincey Morris, Dr. John Seward, and Arthur. They all want to marry her, and she relishes their attention. Later, all three “strapping men” (in Van Helsing’s words) will replenish her blood before she succumbs at last to Dracula’s thirst. In the end, together with Van Helsing, these same men stake her in the grave, ending her Undead life, but not before she commits a mortal sin—Not the violation of the child’s neck, but displaying prurience in public, indeed before her husband’s friends:

Come to me, Arthur. Leave these others and come to me. My arms are hungry for you. Come, and we can rest together. Come, my husband, come! (Ch. 16)

Dr. Seward describes her tone as “diabolically sweet.” Luckily Van Helsing intervenes with his “little golden crucifix,” a symbol diminished in size to show its sublime power as a conduit of the ineffable. Later, Van Helsing explains to Arthur the peril his Undead wife represents:

Friend Arthur, if you had met that kiss which you know of before poor Lucy die, or again, last night when you open your arms to her, you would in time, when you had died, have become nosferatu. (Ch. 16)

The three sisters in Dracula’s castle foreshadow Lucy’s fall from grace. He feels guilt writing, afraid that Mina might someday read his words:

All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips.

In a saucy twist, Dracula would later get revenge by ravishing dear Mina’s pretty neck while she lies beside Jonathan.

Dracula also represents a Gothic sexual trope, the Vampire, its bloodlust paralleling sexual desire. Dracula is bisexual, feeding on sailors and maidens alike, as well as claiming both Jonathan and Mina. After the episode with the three sisters, Dracula berates them, saying, “This man belongs to me.” In this class, we have learned the vampire “invoke[s] horror and terror because of its power to allure and provoke one’s repressed desires” (Hasanat 2). In Dracula, Jonathan’s repressed homosexuality comes alive in his sultry description of Dracula whose “white skin seemed ruby-red underneath; the mouth was redder than ever” (Ch. 2). Stoker allows Jonathan to contemplate forbidden desire without ever mentioning homosexuality.

Dracula is a frustrating novel, possessing legitimate moments of well-constructed frights, but its overlong narrative often dawdles and rambles, and time has rendered much of its dialogue comical. Take the instance the men are rushing to save Mina from Dracula. They know Dracula is in her room:

Outside the Harker’s door we paused. Art and Quincey held back, and the latter said, “Should we disturb her?”

“We must,” said Van Helsing grimly. “If the door be locked, I shall break it in.”

“May it not frighten her terribly? It is unusual to break into a lady’s room!”

Van Helsing said solemnly, “You are always right. But this is life and death. All chambers are alike to the doctor. And even were they not they are all as one to me tonight. Friend John, when I turn the handle, if the door does not open, do you put your shoulder down and shove. And you too, my friends. Now!”

Even so, Dracula is a capstone of Gothic literature, and its antagonist is perhaps horror's most notorious villain. Dracula’s feeding extinguishes life, and his nourishment constitutes anti-sex, the destruction of life. Dracula is not the summit of human terror though. The Twentieth Century proved beyond doubt humans were the real monsters.

Works Cited

The Bible. The American Standard Version, First Epistle to the Corinthians, 11:8.

“Married Women's Property Act, 1882”. 1882 Act of Parliament. 45 & 46 Vict. Ch. 75.

Hasanat, Fayeza. “Lecture 2: The Gothic of the 1790s.”

Jay, William. “The Mutual Duties of Husbands and Wives; a Sermon [on 1 Pet. Iii. 1-7] Occasioned by the Marriage of R----- S-----, Esq., of M-.” Preached in Argyle Chapel, Bath, 16 Aug., 1801. Available Online.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Edited by George Stade. New York: Barnes and Noble Classics, 2005.

Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. 1792. Project Gutenberg, Urbana, Illinois.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

"You Must Come With Me, Loving Me, To Death"--Sexual and Gender Tropes in Carmilla

From its inception, Gothic literature provided a vitrine for presentation of taboo subjects, especially forbidden love. Walpole’s Castle of Otranto, for example, tells of Manfred’s pursuit of an incestuous relationship with his ward. Carmilla, by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, written during the Victorian Era of adamantine sexual repression, features a steamy same-sex relationship, veiled as vampirism, between its narrator, Laura, archetype of the virtuous woman, and the alluring monster, Countess Karnstein, whose name cycles through anagrams from Mircalla to Carmilla. Even by today’s standards, the language is markedly erotic, but Le Fanu’s piquant prose surely shocked a significant share of the reading public.

Teenage Laura lives with her English father and several servants in an Austrian Schloss, a country estate. She is lonely, so lonely, in fact, we only learn her name at the end of Chapter 8 and, even then, she is not directly addressed. This is how Laura describes the isolation of their dwelling:

I have said that this is a very lonely place. Judge whether I say truth. Looking from the hall door towards the road, the forest in which our castle stands extends fifteen miles to the right, and twelve to the left.

Thus, Laura, aside from being the iconic Gothic forbidden woman, also represents the woman alone and in danger, but instead of facing peril “roaming freely outside the safe zone of a house,” Laura’s father invites Carmilla into her “safe domestic sphere” (Hasanat).

Laura is also a damsel in distress, who must wait passively while her father, the General, and their (all male) allies assemble to destroy Carmilla. Blood-drained Laura is infected by the languor (a word used seven times) Carmilla naturally experiences:

Except in these brief periods of mysterious excitement her ways were girlish; and there was always a languor about her, quite incompatible with a masculine system in a state of health.

The narrator depicts Carmilla’s “languor” as feminine. Later, Laura also describes it as “graceful”:

Carmilla was looking charmingly. Nothing could be more beautiful than her tints. Her beauty was, I think, enhanced by that graceful languor that was peculiar to her.

Carmilla’s excited behavior is described as “hysteria,” another loaded word in 1872:

Her face underwent a change that alarmed and even terrified me for a moment. It darkened, and became horribly livid; her teeth and hands were clenched, and she frowned and compressed her lips, while she stared down upon the ground at her feet, and trembled all over with a continued shudder as irrepressible as ague. All her energies seemed strained to suppress a fit, with which she was then breathlessly tugging; and at length a low convulsive cry of suffering broke from her, and gradually the hysteria subsided.

Only six years earlier, the president of the Medical Society of London, Dr. Isaac Baker-Brown, published On the Curability of Certain Forms of Insanity, Epilepsy, Catalepsy, and Hysteria in Females, a book linking masturbation with the natural progression from hysteria, epilepsy, insanity, to death. He recommended excision of the bothersome clitoris. Much controversy resulted, and he was expelled from the society, but not because they believed clitoridectomy was not a cure for masturbation. Youtube channel Victorians Exposed explains:

^ Her bookshelf is dreamy! :-)

Much is made of the feminine novelty of Le Fanu’s vampire character, but  Carmilla was not the first teenage woman vampire. The penny dreadful, Varney the Vampire, serialized from 1847-1849, featured Clara Crofton, turned UnDead on her wedding night, who later feasts on the blood of a schoolgirl before being staked by a mob. Here is Clara’s “dreadful” end:

The blacksmith shuddered as he held the stake in an attitude to pierce the body, and even up to that moment it seemed to be a doubtful case, whether he would be able to accomplish his purpose or not; at length, when they all thought he was upon the point of abandoning his design, and casting the stake away, he thrust it with tremendous force through the body and the back of the coffin.

The eyes of the corpse opened wide -- the hands were clenched, and a shrill, piercing shriek came from the lips -- a shriek that was answered by as many as there were persons present, and then with pallid fear upon their countenances they rushed headlong from the spot.

A mobile vulgus of frightened men gathered to penetrate a helpless woman with their phallic stake, conjures the same fear of rape underlying many Gothic stories. Almost the same scene repeats in Chapter 15 of Carmilla:

The limbs were perfectly flexible, the flesh elastic; and the leaden coffin floated with blood, in which to a depth of seven inches, the body lay immersed…In accordance with the ancient practice, was raised, and a sharp stake driven through the heart of the vampire, who uttered a piercing shriek at the moment, in all respects such as might escape from a living person in the last agony.

The two authors even describe the shriek of death as piercing, just as the thrusted, driven stake pierces, another interesting parallel.

In my opinion, what most distinguishes the novel is the lush diction Le Fanu uses to describe Laura and Carmilla’s relationship. Their first interaction, where the vampire is nurtured from Laura’s breast, subverting natural breastfeeding, occurs when the child is only six. Laura describes it so:

I saw a solemn, but very pretty face looking at me from the side of the bed. It was that of a young lady who was kneeling, with her hands under the coverlet. I looked at her with a kind of pleased wonder, and ceased whimpering. She caressed me with her hands, and lay down beside me on the bed, and drew me towards her, smiling; I felt immediately delightfully soothed, and fell asleep again. I was wakened by a sensation as if two needles ran into my breast very deep at the same moment, and I cried loudly. (Chapter 1)

Later, in Chapter 4, when Carmilla shares her version of the story, she describes Laura as “a beautiful young lady, with golden hair and large blue eyes, and lips—your lips—you as you are here.” “Your looks won me,” she says matter-of-factly. Her seductive language knows no bounds. “In the rapture of my enormous humiliation I live in your warm life, and you shall die—die, sweetly die—into mine.” Her infatuation with Laura is decidedly honest. “I cannot help it,” she says. “as I draw near to you, you, in your turn, will draw near to others, and learn the rapture of that cruelty, which yet is love.” For Carmilla, Death is only a passage, la grande mort, and her description of being UnDead is a promise of fulfillment: “Girls are caterpillars while they live in the world, to be finally butterflies when the summer comes.”

There are numerous lesbian readings of Carmilla, but modern readers seeking good sapphic fiction (sans vampires) have better options, among them Sarah Waters, Rita Mae Brown, Jeanette Winterson, and Nancy Garden. The gender-bending Orlando by Virginia Woolf is another must-read, in my opinion. Lesbian vampire stories are their own branch of paranormal, a hugely popular genre. Darkness Embraced, by Winter Pennington, Darkling, by Yasmine Galenorn, and The Hunger, by Whitley Strieber, are excellent novels I heartily recommend with lesbian or (at least) bisexual women vampire protagonists.

For a fan-fiction BDSM version of Carmilla, one that would never have passed the Victorian censors, seek out Catherine Rose’s, Carmilla’s Lament, essentially an erotic rewrite of Carmilla where our narrator describes “fingers stroking along swollen tender tissues that thrummed with each beat of [her] heart.” These are her thoughts in a moment of lambent contemplation:

Had I not been dreaming I would have rejected this advance but after all a dream means nothing and is gone with the morning dew. What harm could come from this strange dream?
What harm indeed?

(1318 words, 698 mine)

Works Cited

Hasanat, Fayeza. “Lecture 2: The Gothic of the 1790s”

Le Fanu, Joseph Sheridan. Carmilla. First published 1872. Web version: 2014 University of Adelaide, South Australia.

Prest, Thomas Preskett. Varney the Vampire or The Feast of Blood. 1847-1849 by E. Lloyd. London. Web version: 2011 by Project Gutenberg. p. 755

Rose, Catherine and Le Fana, Joseph Sheridan. Carmilla’s Lament. 2013 by Dark Horse Publications.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Saturday, March 3, 2018

“Alternative” View

In his study on the Gothic wanderer, Tyler Tichelaar comments that one reason Frankenstein is an unusual masculine Gothic novel, is that it was written by a woman, the most unusual Mary Shelley. “Masculine Gothics,” he says, “are usually written by men and contain male main characters who fail as heroes” (35). Certainly Victor Frankenstein, that figure who searches for forbidden knowledge, rails against the limitations of natural philosophy, and defies his scientific colleagues by subscribing to the derided lessons of the past is a failed hero, but who is his Adam, he who is “irrevocably excluded” from “everywhere [he] sees bliss” (ch. 10 Shelly)?
When they meet at the Alpine glacier, Dr. Frankenstein labels his creature “Devil” and “Abhorred Monster” (ch. 10 Shelly), but it is Victor Frankenstein’s unfettered obsession and casual disregard for the sanctity and mystery of life that both created and doomed the monster “to a perpetual life of horror and glum.” In his victory over the genesis of life, Victor has failed to achieve “aspirations of humanity towards perfect” and the “consequence of such defiance” is his creature (Hasanat Lecture 2).
Set adrift by its maker, the monster in its infancy marvels at the natural world, its moonlight and berries. It longs for the beauty of the human face, but when it sees its own it is taken aback “unable to believe that it was indeed [it] who was reflected in the mirror” and “filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification” (ch. 13 Shelly). Still, it harbors hops that by benevolent actions it can foster human companionship, so the monster approaches blind De Lacey and is initially encouraged. “You raise me from the dust by [your] kindness; and I trust that, by your aid, I shall not be driven from the society and sympathy of your fellow creatures,” the creature tells the blind man (Shelly ch. 15). In the end, however, the monster harvests only the horror and fury of the De Laceys. It creeps back into its hovel and stews in melancholy and despair.
After the monster murders William Frankenstein and frames Justine Moritz, both beloved to Victor, it confronts his creator on the glacier. In a scene reminiscent of Genesis, but through a Gothic-distorted lens, the creature says, “I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend.” He entreats Victor to end his misery by making a companion. Victor agrees, only to break the promise by destroying his handiwork. In response, the fiend threatens to “glut the maw of death, until it [is] satiated with the blood of [Victor’s] remaining friends” (Shelly ch. 10).
The monster proves its faith by murdering Elizabeth LaVenza, and Henry Clerval. When Elizabeth is assassinated (“I will be with you on your wedding-night”), the monster attempts to frame Victor, in an effort to not only break his heart but to destroy him (Shelly ch. 20 & 22). Victor escapes blame for the murder of his bride, but in Clerval’s case, the creature’s incrimination is successful, and Victor is jailed for a murder he never committed. Once released, Victor pursues the monster across the wide world in an effort to destroy a life he created, daring, the creature would say, to “sport thus with life” (Shelly ch. 10).
Tichelaar associates the Gothic wanderer with the French Revolution. Burke believed in the order and stability of hierarchical monarchy governments. He was “outraged that the common people may be deemed more important than a monarch” (31). William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelly’s parents, took the opposing view of Burke with respect to the revolution. Because they rejected the principle that children must comply with their father’s dictates, they also believed “monarchs should have no right to tyrannize a people… educated and mature enough to govern themselves” (32). This underlying question is whether governments “sanctioned by God” were preferable to those created by man.
If you correlate the question of the genesis of life with governments, it seems at first that Mary Shelly is arguing the opposite of her parents. Victor Frankenstein’s government is the artificial spawn of the French Revolution, whereas a monarchy, God’s government, like God’s creation of life, must be more perfect. This seems an articulate defense of kings and queens and chivalry, but there is a deeper question. The advent of Humanity, represented by science, seems to fail miserably, the blemishes on its creation damning it, until you remember that Victor’s obsession was not based on actual natural philosophy. Victor’s experiments were based on Agrippa, Paracelsus, and Magnus, in other words, anti-science, false unprovable ideas. Of course, its creation, that miserable wretch, could be flawed because the science at its roots is flawed. Or Victor the seeker may have been a good scientist but a bad engineer. Perhaps he rushed from project to implementation with a bad specification and errant calculations.
Humans can do better. Married to actual science are the concepts of merit and dedication to the truth. A government based on these same principles might have a real chance to satisfy its citizens. It is worth an experiment.

(Word count: 644 words out of 865)
Works Cited:
Shelly Mary, Frankenstein. University of Adelaide Press. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.  Accessed 1/23/18.
Tichelaar, Tyler,  The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption. Gothic Literature from 1794—present. Modern History Press - 2012

Hasanat, Fayeza. “Lecture 2: The Gothic of the 1790s”  Accessed 1/23/2018.