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Did Mary Shelley invent science fiction?

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It can't be said that Mary Shelley invented science fiction, for the use of imagined advanced technology to propel a story goes back to Lucan's True History, a Roman (2nd century) satire that includes space voyages and aliens. Nevertheless, Shelley's Frankenstein is often credited as the first work of modern science fiction.

It earns this distinction because, if she did not invent science fiction, Shelley did invent the prototype of the isolated, "mad" scientist alone in his lab concocting experiments that will—or could—have significant impacts on humankind as a whole. Victor Frankenstein concocts a creature that could, as he realizes, potentially breed and populate the earth with a race of "monsters."

This motif of the mad scientist has been much repeated in science fiction, with spaceships, time machines, and other advanced technology coming out of the lab or garage of a lone genius.

Shelley is also considered a pioneer in her employment of what was then state-of-the-art scientific knowledge to lend realism and plausibility to the idea that one could use electricity to animate dead body parts into new life. Plausible, rational science is one of the backbones of science fiction and is what distinguishes it from magical or fantasy literature. There is no magic in Frankenstein, simply science gone awry.

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