How is Frankenstein an example of science fiction?

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Frankenstein is an example of science fiction because it involves a plausible scientific discovery, which is that humans can create life. Not only does the novel involve a plausible scientific discovery, but it also has many other attributes of science fiction. For example, the fact that Victor Frankenstein is able to create life in a laboratory might be considered by some to be scientifically implausible; however, one could argue that Shelley's work is actually more realistic than readers might have expected at the time of its publication since scientists have learned ways to clone animals and genetically engineer microorganisms. Moreover, Shelley's novel pre-dates both Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) and H. G. Wells'

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Science fiction is based on possible (whether plausible or not) advances in science or technology or the potential social or environmental changes that result (or that exist separately from the advancements). Mary Shelley's novel is based on potential scientific advances that likely did not seem too incredibly far-fetched to readers at the time, especially given recent advancements and the knowledge gained as a result of the Enlightenment focus on the scientific method.

Victor Frankenstein collects body parts from the deceased and manufactures a humanoid being, and it is implied that he might use electricity to animate this being. Because of the contemporary interest in galvanism and the use of electrical currents to stimulate muscle movement as well as the titillation caused by the thought that such other forms of life could be possible, Shelley's science fiction likely seemed more realistic in her time than it does to modern readers.

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Shelley's work can be considered part of the science fiction because it ponders the fundamental question of the genre in "What if..."  Science fiction is primarily defined by thinkers posing this question in different contexts and conditions.  What Shelley has rendered is just that in her question of "What if one could clone life?"  Victor's exploits in science help him to discover a world that is different than the one he traditionally knows of and in which he lives.  This is an aspect of science fiction in that it takes the idea of what could be and manifests it into the possible explanations.  Another reason why the work could be considered science fiction is because it shows that the result of this exploration is a disastrous one.  The construction of life is one that turns out to possess terrible ends for him and this is where the science fiction ends are most present.  The genre of science fiction is one where what might be seen as good and optimistic is one revealed to be far worse.  In this light, Shelley's work can be seen as science fiction.

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