The Birth of Science Fiction
By Ellen Padgett
Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”
The stereotype of a “fake nerd girl” is very common; the girl who doesn’t actually play video games, or actually read comics, or spends weeks working on a completely screen accurate Harley Quinn costume. She’s obviously doing that to look attractive, not because she loves the character and wants to do justice to how she is portrayed. No, it’s totally unheard of for a girl to like superheros, Dungeons & Dragons, and Science Fiction.
Girls get ridiculed for these things all the time by people who are unaware that the root of the geek and nerd cultural phenomena was invented by a teenage girl.
That’s right. Science Fiction, the all-father (or rather, all-mother) of nerd culture, was invented by 19-year-old Mary Shelley, when she sat down and wrote her most famous novel, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus.
During 1816, Mary Shelley spent the summer with her lover, and later husband, Percy Shelley, near Lake Geneva, where they vacationed with friends Lord Byron, John Polidori, and Claire Clairmont. It was that particularly fateful summer that, one night, Lord Byron challenged the group of comrades to tell a ghost story, and ‘Frankenstein’ was born. January 1st marks the 200 year anniversary of the anonymous publication of the novel back in 1818, until 4 years later, when Mary claimed the novel as hers and put a name to the genius of The Modern Prometheus. Unfortunately, that same year that Mary bathed in the success of her novel, she also dealt with the grief of her late husband, who died that year in a shipwreck. Mary was known to have in her possession the preserved heart of her late husband, which was calcified and didn’t burn in the cremation process of Percy Shelley’s body. She wrapped it in the papers of Percy’s poems and kept it locked in her desk while she was writing.
As if creating one literary genre wasn’t enough, Mary also created post-apocalyptic fiction with her lesser famous novel, The Last Man, which tells the story of a lone man who survived a worldwide plague. If this novel had not been written, there would be many cultural phenomena that would not exist today, such as The Walking Dead comics and TV show, or The Last of Us video game.
Without the idealistic works of Mary Shelley, the world would be without various science fiction happenings, from Star Wars to Mad Max and Terminator. So next time you or someone you know is called a “fake geek girl,” just remember; there is no such thing as “fake” geek girls--women created this culture.