On March 11, 1818 Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus was published for the first time. Written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, who was merely 21 at that time, the novel is often hailed as the first novel in the science fiction genre. Much like how it was for women writing in other genres, it was not an easy task for Shelly. The first edition was published anonymously and there is an interesting story behind writing the novel.
In 1816, Mary Shelley along with her husband, poet Percy were visiting Villa Diodati near Lake Geneva. It was rented by Lord Byron and John Polidori. The story goes that one evening, as suggested by Byron, all of them wrote their own ghost story. “I busied myself to think of a story – a story to rival those which had excited me to this task. One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror – one to make the reader dread to look around, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beating of the heart,” Mary wrote in the 1831 edition of the novel.
Needless to say she succeeded in producing what she had set out for. The tale of a scientist who decided to play God but then disgusted with his creation abandoned him has achieved an iconic status over the years. However, even though Mary Shelley started the genre, so as to say, it was still a struggle for women to make a mark in this field. Even after all these years, there remains only a handful of female writers who have managed to carve a niche for themselves. On the author’s birth anniversary, we bring to you names of some other female authors who have lent their words to the science fiction genre to make it more enriching.
Nora K Jemisin
Jemisin is often regarded as one of the most celebrated contemporary science fiction and fantasy writers. Recipient of several literary awards, Jemisin explores oppression, class and cultural conflicts through her writing. She is the author of novels like The Fifth Season, the Obelisk Gate, among others.
Considered one of the pioneers of science fiction, Russ had carved out a distinctive identity for herself. She experimented with her story, language and narrative styles. She published over fifty short stories in her career and pushed the boundaries on what is generally considered as science fiction.
Octavia E Butler
African-American science fiction writer, Butler wrote several novels, and more often than not they dealt with social hierarchies and the frailties of human beings.
Ursula K LeGuin
Considered one of the celebrated writers in the science fiction genre, LeGuin received several literary prizes and honours. Her 1969 novel The Left Hand Of Darkness catapulted her to fame and ushered in a new wave in the genre of science fiction.