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Bibliophile price: £3.50
"It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn." - Mary Shelley. It was the era of Romantic science which blurred the boundary between natural philosophy and poetry in the work of such scientists as Humphry Davy and Samuel Coleridge. The personalities and preoccupations of many of these figures would find expression in the fictional Victor Frankenstein. Mary Shelley in her unnamed creature expressed an incredible range of concerns, debates, doctrines and anxieties of the age. Discoveries in biology, geography, geology and palaeontology, together with the first stirrings of evolutionary theory, had lent impetus to a reassessment of man's relation to the natural world, and to the beast within. But it would be the newest and oldest fields of natural philosophy that the novel would explore in the most thrilling fashion which is why Frankenstein is often regarded as the first true work of science fiction. The novel and its protagonists embody and interrogate the promise and peril of fields such as electrical science and chemistry, psychology and the philosophy of consciousness. It was in the dismal summer of 1816 that when challenged to write a ghost story, 18 year old Mary stitched together the most powerful myth of modern times. Her extraordinary tale still touches on current debates about the spark of life and the power of technology and AI. Just how close are we to creating our own monsters? By the respected science writer, 207pp, very well illustrated with historic woodcuts, archive photographs and contemporary cartoons.

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