The postmodern Prometheus
'Frankenstein' might be the first science fiction novel, but its literary heritage has a vibrant afterlife in pulp fiction. Victor Frankenstein and his moping, depressed creation was conceived of by Mary Shelley a good century or more before the golden age of pulp fiction, but the monster and the genre had always seemed made for each other. Reanimated corpses, hubristic scientists, secret laboratories, rogue humanoid creations-each of these tropes scream "pulp"!
Throw in Shelley's geographic plot devices, like a ship stuck in the Arctic ice or a hidden retreat in a remote Scottish island, and the pulpy potential of the story becomes more marked.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, pulp writers pounced upon the twin tropes of mad scientist and reanimation first. It certainly inspired pulp's greatest luminary, H.P. Lovecraft. One of his early tales, Herbert West-Reanimator, is a take on Frankenstein that transforms the philosophical and moral horror at the heart of Shelley's novel into something out of Tales From The Crypt. Serialized in an amateur magazine called Home Brew between February and July 1922, Lovecraft wrote his story for the most pulp of reasons-he needed the money. Not that he was too happy with the $5 (around Rs300 now) that he was paid for his troubles.
23rd January 2018