This volume presents a selection from the American and British fiction of the nineteenth century which was evolving into what we now know as science fiction. Taking Frankenstein as its formative work, it assembles stories and excerpts from narratives exploring the complex impact of new technologies like the telegraph and later the cinema, or new scientific practices like mesmerism (hypnotism) and microscopy. The selected authors range from those famous within the realist tradition like George Eliot and Mark Twain to scientists like the physician Silas Weir Mitchell and the inventor Thomas Edison. They repeatedly destabilize their narratives so that some come to resemble scientific records and frequently leave their endings unresolved, encouraging the reader to speculate about their subjects, which include extensions to the senses, new inventions, and challenges to individual autonomy. Many focus on experiments but might combine scientific enquiry with the supernatural, producing hybrid narratives as a result which are difficult to classify.
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