I am not feeling today’s opportunity at reflection and creative writing on the “Dulled Senses” subject, but after watching an interesting show on Netflix last night I do want to state my thoughts about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus and the much more modern Battlestar Galactica.
I wanted to so badly to write a more professional style paper and name it, “Frakkenstein” but alas I am not disciplined enough to dedicate such time and energy into something sheerly for my very own entertainment. So, without further ado, I shall launch into a black whole of science fiction and science fact.
As I sat in bed late last night with my book, I decided to scroll through Netflix and found a very interesting show, “Prophets of Science Fiction.” The premise of this show is revealing how past writers have pioneered the Sy-Fy movement and how their horrors have actually come to pass throughout time. Science fiction is after all rooted within the ideas of science fact.
The first episode was on none other than teenage author, Mary Shelley. It of course delves into the psyche of this troubled young woman and how she came to write what many consider the first true sy-fy genre which also reflected her life, culture and nightmares. There are parallels between Shelley’s very troubled life and the life of her monstrous creature which came to her one night in a dream. She had based Doctor Frankenstein’s science on the modern studies of electricity being reintroduced to the body to “reanimate” a corpse. Through the science of the time the ideas spawned in her to suggest a reanimation of dead life. What others found ghastly and horrific in the early 1800’s, we find to a degree possible today.
Back in the 1800’s you learned from corpses. You lose a limp and it is lost to you forever. You die and that is the end…but Mary took these notions and these thoughts and weaved an intricate web of possibility. What if death was not the end…? What if flesh and bone could be constructed toward life…? What if we played god and become the creators…? The entire show described in depth all of this and more and how Mary unknowingly prophesied the futures of science.
Today we have stem cell technology. We have bionics. We have unlocked the key components of the human genome and we are creating life. We are able to select key factors that we would like in our children. Organs and tissues can be transplanted from the dead and into the living.
In Shelley’s novel, this doctor defied all logic and knowledge of the time and delved into the wonder that is creation. Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus was a tale for horrific entertainment, but it was also a touch on abused power and abandoned responsibility. We face the many wonders and horrors of science today. Like Prometheus, we have so many gifts to use or abuse and within humanity there will always be those for the good, those for the evil and those who wish to create with reckless abandon and not take responsibility for our creations.
All of these things that were penned in 1818 are present today. The morality tales are present today. Science fiction is abundant today.
Sure, I can write on almost any topic that can be stemmed from Shelley’s first work, but the one that stood out to me the absolute most was in fact the Cylon of Battlestar Galactica.
This futuristic creation of course has evolved over time, but the organic, human stage of the evolution of the Cylon is to which I am currently referring. The Cylon is one of various modern day Prometheus types, but it is the one that stood out as I watched this in depth episode. You take modern science and you expand so much as to create. We become the gods, the creators, and as we harbor so much potential we also harbor so much destruction.
Frankenstein’s monster was alone in the world. None were like him. None could love, appreciate or understand him. He was a monstrosity- an outsider, an abomination. Like Adam he wanted a mate, a companion. Like Adam, when one has a companion, one has the potential to expand. Doctor Frankenstein knew that if a mate were to be constructed then there would lie a new seed for a new generation. Astonished at what he had done, he realized that the only way to remedy his shortcomings was to destroy the life that he had created. We are creation and creator and we are responsible for the things that we create.
In Battlestar, the fate of the human race hangs in the balance as the created Cylon advances through time no longer in need of humanity for it has surpassed humanity. This is where the modern science becomes insanely interesting. When we lose a limb, we are able to reattach it and possibly even salvage some of the damage and restore it to a point of some functionality. We lose and limb and have bionics to replace what was lost. We want a child with blue eyes and an athletic build so we entertain the notion of perfected creation of a species. People now are considering the possibilities of transferred consciousness by downloading their thoughts and experiences in to a new body, opening the potential keys to eternal life. We clone the bodies, perfect the robotics and we can live forever.
The Cylon, once eliminated is able to download its consciousness into a new body. They are able to download electronically information into an organic being and they are permitted to reproduce and create a hybrid race should they so choose. Humanity is still important, but what happens when the master is surpassed by the pupil…?
Today’s science fiction is beyond that of anything Shelley dreamed of in her time, but, today’s science fiction is tomorrow’s truth. The Cylon is possibility. Many science fiction novels and movies have branched into zombies, mutants and clones that are bred and raised to be slaughtered for their human counterparts. The very reality of what we write should shock us more, because the more we think, the more we unlock and the more that we unlock the more thought, intellect and creation spirals into entropy. Yes, we are capable of glorious things, but also of complete destruction.
The humans want to rid the world of the technology that they created.
Frankenstein saw the he had to rid the world of his monster.
The questions still lie out there, though. Will the creator destroy the creation? Will the creation rise above? Are we governed or are we gods?
Any way that you look at it, the marvels of science, medicine and technology are bounding forward every single day making our wildest dreams come true while also creating the most obscene of terrors. We are modernizing through time, but this intellectual birthing will never cease to come back to the most apropos title of Shelley’s novel, and that is Prometheus.
Frankensetein, Cylon, bio-genetics, nuclear physics, the flu… We hold the flame for warmth, for food and for absolute chaos.
Today’s Frakkenstein could be tomorrows elixir of life or the very end as we know it.
(Links for interest random interest)