The Frankenstein Chronicles

If you guys are looking for something spooky to watch this Halloween, check out The Frankenstein Chronicles on Netflix.

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Sean Bean stars as John Marlott, a London investigator tracking down the origin of a disturbing creation: a corpse that is actually an amalgamation of multiple children.  Does it have something to do with the Anatomy Act that the Home Secretary, Sir Robert Peel, is trying to pass?  Or with Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein and theories of galvanism?  The show has wonderful atmosphere and suspense.  I really liked the twists in the first season, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes in the second season, which is now available.

The science of the show is pretty hand-wavey, but that’s forgivable given the show’s strengths.  It does incorporate several real historical figures and events, including Peel, Shelley, and William Blake.  It is set about ten years after the publication of Frankenstein, which was a great choice because not only can we see the impact of the novel on society, but it also gives the show a more steampunk vibes, being closer to the Victorian era than the Regency.

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The show is clearly inspired by Frankenstein itself, and I think this interpretation is preferable to another straight adaptation of the novel.  It gives a great perspective on the monster!  When Marlott reads the novel in the show, it inspired me to finally read the classic story, which is very different than the popular conception of it.

Here are some Frankenstein Facts:

  1. This year is the 200th anniversary of its publication.
  2. Mary Shelley was only 18 when she conceived of the idea for the novel, after a suggestion by the poet Byron that he, Mary, and her future husband poet Percy Bysshe Shelley each write a ghost story as a kind of party game.
  3. It is an epistolary novel, written as a series of letters and journal entries.
  4. Its subtitle is “The Modern Prometheus,” after the Titan that helped create man, then gave them fire in defiance of Zeus (only to be sentenced to an eternity of solitary torment).
  5. It was ranked #43 on the Great American Read list.
  6. Popular conception of the story comes from the Universal Pictures 1930s series of movies starring Boris Karloff as the monster, as well as the later Hammer Films series of movies starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.
  7. It is considered one of the progenitors of the science fiction genre.

As a novel, I found Frankenstein mildly underwhelming.  I’m not sold on the framing narrative involving an Arctic explorer writing letters home to his sister, and the prose lacks the wit of my Regency favorite Jane Austen.  However, as a forerunner to modern sci-fi, its importance cannot be overstated.  At its heart, science fiction is not about spaceships and plagues, but about society.  Frankenstein deals with scientific inquiry, or more specifically how far it should go.  Just because we are capable of doing something, should it be done?  Is it ever okay to “play God?”

In this way, the story is similar to another sci-fi favorite, Jurassic Park (#52 on the GAR list).  Holly at Nut Free Nerd has a great comparison of the two stories as part of her Classic Couples series.

 

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What are you reading and watching for Halloween?

 

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Little Jedi’s First Halloween Costume

So my kid isn’t even born yet, and he’s already been participating in my Halloween nerdiness. Here’s my “costume” at work today. 😀

 

Celebrating Fall with Nature, Books, and K-pop

Trilobed redFall is not my favorite season; I don’t look forward to colder weather.  But it is unquestionably Ohio’s best season, and every fall I look forward to the seasonal hallmarks of leaves changing and neighborhood kids Trick-or-Treating.

I love taking hikes to see the beautiful leaf color and identify all the trees.  If you live in the Midwest or Northeast, you can use these two posts to help you identify some leaves you’ll see changing right now, including oaks, maples, sassafras (at right), hickory, and others.

Fall leaf identification

How to Recognise Different Types of Trees From Quite a Short Way Away (Fall leaf ID part 2)

I also love curling up with a good book; in my Seasonal Reads series I discussed two great books that I love to re-read at this time of year: one a classic eerie tale, and one a funny and thrilling modern urban fantasy.

Seasonal Reads: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Seasonal Reads: Dead Beat

And if you want some background music for while you are reading, you can check out these K-pop music videos will a plethora of clowns, zombies, and crazy costumes.

K-pop MVs (Halloween Special): Block B’s “Jackpot”

What helps you get into the fall season?

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Sailor Eppendorf and Falcon Tube (me!) in the lab

This is Halloween, Halloween!

It’s Trick-or-Treat in our neighborhood right now, so I’m handing out Snickers and Gobstoppers while watching The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’ve seen some Ninja Turtles, Olaf the snowman, a Power Ranger, pirates, Captain America, something from Monster High, and a possible Artemis/Diana.

Our newer cat Juhani has the patience of a saint and barely fussed when I put some Princess Leia buns on her head.  (They were made for a small dog…) Kinda fitting that a cat named for a Jedi is “dressed” as another Force-sensitive woman.

Seasonal Reads: Dead Beat

Do you ever find yourself coming back to a certain story at a certain time of year?  I often re-read books during a specific month or season that I feel is inextricably tied to the book.  Here’s what I’m reading right now to get in the spirit of the season.

 Dead Beat, The Dresden Files #7 (Jim Butcher)

17683Harry Dresden is the only wizard in the Chicago phone book, and it’s his responsibility to keep his city safe from werewolves, vampires, necromancers, Fae, and other assorted magic users looking for trouble.

You should definitely be reading The Dresden Files because they are great books that actually get even better as you go.  What makes Dead Beat in particular so special that I would re-read it?

First of all, it’s set at Halloween, featuring a vampire, several necromancers, and Herne the Hunter as antagonists.  So perfect for getting in the Halloween spirit.

It also introduces some really great characters.  Harry has many allies that help him along the way; my favorite is cop Karrin Murphy, but she’s barely in this book at all.  Don’t let that deter you.  Instead, Harry’s sidekick is Waldo Butters, a small, cowardly, polka-loving medical examiner.  He is awesome and he only gets more awesomer in later books.

Like all the Dresden books, Dead Beat stands on its own well while still fitting in well with the rest of the series.  It ties up some loose ends of books that came before it and also sets up some things for future installments.

But if you’re looking for what really makes Dead Beat amazing, this image says it all:

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Enjoy!