Science Fiction Friday: Mary Shelley, from Frankenstein, or “The Modern Prometheus”

            Mary Shelley’s The Modern Prometheus revisits Victor from Frankenstein three years after he created the monster. Presently he is now struggling with the task of creating a female to be Frankenstein’s companion. He finds temporary solace for his work on a remote island in Scotland, though he constantly frets as to whether or not he should engage such an act that may inflict terror and destruction on all of mankind. After a change of heart he vows to never again create another monster, when to his utter horror he is visited by the demon Frankenstein, who demands that he continue with his work. Victor refuses, and Frankenstein promises that Victor will rue the decision.

Victor disregards this, convincing himself that the act of creating another beast would be most selfish. Before leaving Scotland, at the request of his friend Clerval, Victor disposes what remains of the project. Late at night he sails into the ocean and dumps the basket of body parts into the water letting them sink. But in the darkness of swirling water and crashing waves he becomes lost.

He manages to make his way back to civilization, arriving at a town in Ireland. The citizens regard him rudely, for he was spotted the previous night and they suspect he has committed a larger crime. They inform him that a man was murdered in that village just that night. Victor discovers the man to be his dear friend Clerval, and upon being taken into prison for the crime of his murder Victor lapses into a fever and sickness that takes hold of him for over three months. Upon trial he is cleared of the charges of murder, due to the generousness of the town’s magistrate who assisted him in gaining a defense and alibi, and Victor’s father comes to help nurse him back to health. With plans to soon return to Geneva with his father, Victor slowly recovers from his sickness, choosing to ignore the threat to his life made by Frankenstein and forgetting him altogether.

*This story along with dozens of other science fiction short stories can be found in: Eric Rabkin, ed., Science Fiction: A Historical Anthology

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