Frankenstein: Annotated for Scientists, Engineers, and Creators of All Kinds
Edited by David H. Guston, Ed Finn, and Jason Scott Robert
Introduction by Charles E. Robinson
Published by The MIT Press
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has endured in the popular imagination for two hundred years. Begun as a ghost story by an intellectually and socially precocious eighteen-year-old author during a cold and rainy summer on the shores of Lake Geneva, the dramatic tale of Victor Frankenstein and his stitched-together creature can be read as the ultimate parable of scientific hubris. Victor, “the modern Prometheus,” tried to do what he perhaps should have left to Nature: create life. Although the novel is most often discussed in literary-historical terms—as a seminal example of romanticism or as a groundbreaking early work of science fiction—Mary Shelley was keenly aware of contemporary scientific developments and incorporated them into her story. In our era of synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, robotics, and climate engineering, this edition of Frankenstein will resonate forcefully for readers with a background or interest in science and engineering, and anyone intrigued by the fundamental questions of creativity and responsibility.
This edition of Frankenstein pairs the original 1818 version of the manuscript—meticulously line-edited and amended by Charles E. Robinson, one of the world’s preeminent authorities on the text—with annotations and essays by leading scholars exploring the social and ethical aspects of scientific creativity raised by this remarkable story. The result is a unique and accessible edition of one of the most thought-provoking and influential novels ever written.
Elizabeth Bear, Cory Doctorow, Heather E. Douglas, Josephine Johnson, Kate MacCord, Jane Maienschein, Anne K. Mellor, Alfred Nordmann
About the Editors
David Guston is professor and founding director of the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University, where he also serves as co-director of the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes.
Ed Finn is founding director of the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University, where he is also an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the School of Arts, Media, and Engineering and the Department of English.
Jason Scott Robert is Lincoln Chair in Ethics, associate professor in the School of Life Sciences, and director of the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics at Arizona State University.
“This new, remarkable annotated edition of Frankenstein with its accompanying essays brings the ‘modern Prometheus’ flawlessly into our century in a manner sure to inspire scientists and nonscientists in a conversation that Shelley herself might not have foreseen but surely would have encouraged.”
—Arthur L. Caplan, Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor, founding head of the Division of Bioethics at the School of Medicine, New York University
“This wonderful new edition is a happy addition to the critical literature examining the meaning of the tale for our twenty-first-century commitments to heroic science, engineering, and technology.”
—Rachelle D. Hollander, Director, Center for Engineering Ethics and Society, National Academy of Engineering
“The Promethean tale of Frankenstein is a rich source of questions about the price that scientists and the public pay for knowledge. This annotated edition rescues the classic allegory from popular culture’s caricature and presents it with a framework for exploring the questions raised. Among the many questions, perhaps the most important is, when scientists either from amoral arrogance or negligent lack of foresight present a discovery society is not prepared to deal with—nuclear weapons, engineered gene lines, climate modification—what is the scientists’ responsibility going forward? Is it merely to watch in horror as the knowledge is unleashed on society?”
—Rush D. Holt, Chief Executive Officer, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Executive Publisher, Science Family of Journals
- “I’ve Created a Monster! And so can you,” Slate – Future Tense, May 22, 2017
- “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein shows us how science fiction predicts the present and shapes the future,” Boing Boing, May 22, 2017
- “Science books we’re keen to read in 2017,” The New Scientist, January 4, 2017
- G. Pascal Zachary, “What Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Can Teach Engineers,”IEEE Spectrum, January 25, 2017
- Holly Else, “Frankenstein comes back to life for new generation of scientists,”Times Higher Education, April 19, 2017
- Philip Ball, “‘Frankenstein’ Reflects the Hopes and Fears of Every Scientific Era,”The Atlantic, April 20, 2017
- “Genetic testing; Pugs on treadmills; Frankenstein,” BBC Inside Science, July 13, 2017
- “Out of Control,” The New York Review of Books, December 21, 2017
- “Man as God: ‘Frankenstein’ Turns 200,” NPR, January 10, 2018
- “The Strange and Twisted Life of ‘Frankenstein,'” The New Yorker, February 12 & 19 issue, 2018
- “What Frankenstein Can Still Teach Us 200 Years Later,” Smithsonian, March 14, 2018
- “A New Edition of ‘Frankenstein’ for Scientists, Mad and Otherwise,” Atlas Obscura, March 22, 2018
- “200 Years of Frankenstein: Mary Shelley’s Masterpiece as a Lens on Today’s Most Pressing Questions of Science, Ethics, and Human Creativity,” Brain Pickings, June 14, 2018
- “Frankenstein Turns 200 and Becomes Required Reading for Scientists,” Los Angeles Review of Books, July 9, 2018
Please contact Joey Eschrich at ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination