Tag Archives: Luddites

Mary Shelley LIVES! (Romantics, Luddites, runaway technology, science fiction and the persistence of the Frankenstein Complex)

Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and screaming. – Dr. Ian Malcolm

Mary Shelley spent the summer of 1816 at the Villa Diodati near Lake Geneva, Switzerland with her husband, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and their close friend Lord Byron “watching the rain come down, while they all told each other ghost stories.” Thomas Pynchon says that by that December Mary Shelley was working on Chapter Four of her famous novel Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus.

It was the challenge of writing ghost stories to amuse each other that set Mary upon the idea of a different kind of horror story – one not based in the supernatural, but in science.

I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. Read more

My god – it’s full of stars: 2001, Frankenstein and autonomous technology

I used to work with a HAL 9000. Back when I was at US West in the late ’90s we had a voice system into which we would record the day’s company news so that employees without Internet access could dial in and keep up with the latest events. As with any such system there was a dial-in sequence, buttons that had to be pressed in a certain order, etc.

One day, as I was working through the first stage of the sequence, our phone system apparently achieved sentience. For reasons that I still can’t explain, a decade later, and that nobody at the time had any clue about, the machine sort of … intuited what I was about to do. It performed an action or two that, put simply, it could not do. Read more

Our first Scholar/Rogue

Mrs. Miggins, there’s nothing intellectual wandering around Italy in a big shirt, trying to get laid. – Edmund Blackadder

That dashing, slightly dangerous character gracing the masthead above is none other than George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824). We have selected him as the coverboy for our first masthead, and if from this you deduce that other personages will feature on that mast in the future, good on ye.

While Byron is best known as one of the premier poets of the late Romantic era, along with Keats and Shelley, as well as for a string of decidedly roguish behavior involving ale and married women, we honor him here for a far more obscure accomplishment. Read more