Why We Need Monsters

Why ‘Frankenstein’ Is a Great Science Policy Guide for the Future

Mary Shelley's 200-Year-Old Fable Explores the Tension Between Scientific Creativity and Social Responsibility

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, Mary Shelley’s epic tale about the perils of scientific creation, turns 200 this year. Its famous creation story involves laudanum, and sexual tension, and an air of scandal: Mary and Percy Shelley, her poet-atheist-firebrand-lover and their infamous friend Lord Byron were figures of great interest and consternation in 1816 Britain. Cooped up in a lakefront mansion amid unseasonably chilly, dreary summer weather, the trio and their friends spooked one another with German ghost stories and embarked upon a dare that inspired Shelley to create the modern myth that became Frankenstein, published on January 1, 1818.

Two centuries later Frankenstein is the fifth most assigned book in college courses, …


Even the Ghastliest Monsters of Old Were Better Than Real-Life Horrors

How This Rediscovered "Book of Miracles" Calmed the Fear of Massacres, Plagues, and War

“There be monsters here,” old maps warn, of oceans as yet uncharted. But there are monsters even in well-trodden territories.

Let’s start with the blade-wielding clowns lurking in American woodlands (And not only there: One even showed up in my adopted hometown in rural Slovenia). Yes, I know that this is a fad, stoked by over-enthusiastic fans anticipating the new film version of Stephen King’s It, but it is outrageously creepy. Citizens are …


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