Bad Science In Good Fiction - Page 6
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  1. #51
    Member luckyscars's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack of all trades View Post
    I haven't seen any sign that King's books, or any other modern horror books, have inspired wide spread terror. By that logic, there is no horror genre.

    Your argument is flawed.

    On the other hand, I'm not sure Frankenstein was the first horror novel.

    The Grimm tales were not novels, whether or not you care to classify them as horror.

    There have always been gruesome tales. At what point did such become a genre? Possibly like evolution, it's impossible to point to one book or story and say, "That's it!" At least not without someone else saying, "Nah."

    How does this relate to bad science in good fiction?
    I do agree with your statement that there isn't really a single book that invents a genre. There are books that one can point to and say "this was the first x" but its more a designation of convenience than anything else. Convenience, of course, is the only reason the idea of genres exists at all.

    The wikipedia defintion of horror: "Horror is a genre of speculative fiction which is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten, scare, disgust, or startle its readers or viewers by inducing feelings of horror and terror."

    My reading of that definition: A horror novel does not have to be scary but it has to be evident in its intent to try to cause a sense of fear. That is where I base my argument Frankenstein does not qualify because I do not see any evidence that Mary Shelley was attempting that. If anything one might argue it is something of an anti-horror because the running theme throughout the novel is the idea, commonplace now but quite revolutionary in the 19th century, that the real monster is not the hideous creature but the prejudices of the society in which it exists and that true humanity can exist outside of "normal humans". To that degree it is much closer to a novel like The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, which was incidentally written shortly after Frankenstein was published.

    Stephen King? I have not read him much however I find your comment that "I haven't seen any sign that King's books have inspired widespread terror" to be laughable and I don't think you can possibly have thought it through before you said it. You don't think people in droves found The Shining scary? What about It, essentially the reason why fear of clowns is one of the most common phobias? You don't think Salem's Lot or Pet Semetary frightened a huge chunk of their readers and unsettled a good deal more? Pardon me but that is an absurd statement. I am positive that not all King books are scary (not all of them are horror) but the ones which are horror are clearly fitting of the definition. Go to a site like Goodreads, read the reviews and count the number of times people use adjectives like 'terrifying' to describe his books. This is not the same as what was written about Frankenstein, now or at the time.

    Either way I have nothing further to say on the topic. I only jumped in to this thread because I saw Frankenstein was being debated and it happens to be a favourite book of mine. Bad Science In Good Fiction may be returned to forthwith.
    "All good books have one thing in common - they are truer than if they had really happened."

    Ernest Hemingway



  2. #52
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Stephen King? I have not read him much however I find your comment that "I haven't seen any sign that King's books have inspired widespread terror" to be laughable and I don't think you can possibly have thought it through before you said it. You don't think people in droves found The Shining scary? What about It, essentially the reason why fear of clowns is one of the most common phobias? You don't think Salem's Lot or Pet Semetary frightened a huge chunk of their readers and unsettled a good deal more? Pardon me but that is an absurd statement. I am positive that not all King books are scary (not all of them are horror) but the ones which are horror are clearly fitting of the definition. Go to a site like Goodreads, read the reviews and count the number of times people use adjectives like 'terrifying' to describe his books. This is not the same as what was written about Frankenstein, now or at the time.
    I'm glad we agree that identifying the first anything is somewhat arbitrary.

    But getting back to King's books, if it weren't for the technology making people's thoughts more permanently known, would there be any evidence? Are there laws banning clowns, or any other more permanent indication? My intended meaning was there has been little, beyond preserved writing, that reflects the horror of, say, It.

    I'm suggesting that we might not have an accurate assessment of public perception at the time of Frankenstein. More might have been word-of-mouth, which doesn't last over time.

  3. #53
    In 1818 when Frankenstein was published there were no 'genres' of fiction to apply to the book. Basically there were two fiction classifications; romance and novels. 'Romance' in this usage doesn't mean what we think of today as 'romantic fiction', they were books which dealt with ideas which were viewed as unrealistic, or fanciful, while 'novels' dealt with realistic situations. Frankenstein is a romance written in the Gothic style. Since the concept of genre did not exist in 1818, no one would have called it horror, science fiction, or anything else. Our best indication of how it was received would be from the reviews at the time (which we quite mixed), and the fact that it was very popular.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

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  4. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    I will agree you are right on the money that The Last Man is an outstanding book and probably responsible for the post-apocalyptic fiction genre.

    Like I said, Mary would be on my list of people I'd visit if I had a time machine.
    Right after Billie Holliday, Bessie Smith, and Ma Rainey.

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