The very first science Fiction story was written by a woman, Mary Shelley. Although her work has often been overshadowed by her marriage to the romantic poet Percy Shelley, her talent is undeniable. I was going to post a scary poem I’d written but a blog entry on amysuenathan.com (check it out, she is a wonderful writer) inspired me to write this instead. Today Amy was sharing her own profound experience with the muse as she was writing her WIP. As writers, we are very aware of our connection with the mystical place of imagination. Creative people are connected to the spiritual more than others, hence our ability to evoke emotional responses from our audience.
Mary shelley was the author of the first of what was to become known as the science fiction novel. At the time of its conception she and her husband Percy were guest of the poet Lord Byron at his villa in Italy. At some point one evening, the gauntlet was thrown down and a challenge set before each to create a scary story. At the time alchemy and the study of electricity to animate the bodies of the dead was an area of gruesome fascination for many people. Science was truly in its infancy and the more outlandish the proposition the more it caught the wind of interest among the educated classes in Europe. It was in this atmosphere of free thinking and wide open expression that Mary Shelley’s seed of genius was sown.
When everyone retired for the night, Mary Shelley was ignited by the prospect of tackling this immense challenge. She was determined to write the ultimate frightening tale. That night, as she lay sleeping, she dreamed Frankenstein in its entirety. She was nineteen years of age, female and despite being the daughter of progressive parents (her mother was Mary Wollstonecraft the first radical feminist and author of ‘Vindication On The Rights Of Women’ ) the odds were against her publishing her masterpiece. However, eventually it was printed and although it didn’t make her wealthy, it did secure legendary status for her work. The story itself was ahead of its time and certainly is a supernatural tale, but the story behind the story is for me much more compelling: Nineteen year old Mary Shelley went to sleep, and having no scientific knowledge beyond entertaining chit chat, was somehow the lucky recipient of this amazing spooky story. Now, how did she do that? Thoughts?