Steampunk: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Hardcover – May 8, 2012
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From School Library Journal
The Writer’s Journey(blog)
“Basic and Sumberac do an extraordinary job of reinterpreting the story without changing a single word. The madness of the creator and the terror of the creature are on full display in the illustrations, a grand marriage between Mary Shelley’s writing and the imagination of the artists.”
Asbury Park Press
“Sometimes, you want to stop traffic. You want people to nudge you and ask: “What the heck is that you’re reading?” It may be the cover art or just the title that arrests their attention. ... Just a few moments leafing through the pages of the classic story, illustrated by Zdenko Basic and Manuel Sumberac, will make you wonder what took them so long to get “Frank” to the Steampunk genre. A perfect mating.”
San Francisco Book Review
"Frankenstein goes quite well with the steampunk style. With its gritty post-industrial imagery, the dark ambiance of these illustrations does a wonderful job helping readers visualize the story… the photoshop-esque style of these particular pictures support the story fantastically. Between the pictures and the generous double-spaced layout of the text, this is one edition of the story that is meant to be lingered over, enjoyed languidly and thoroughly. A beautiful version of a classic story; this is a must-have for any steampunk fan’s library.”
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To briefly recap the story line: Victor Frankenstein, the "mad scientist" who sought the secret of creating life, is rescued from a frozen ice floe in the Artic by sailors seeking a Northwest Passage. He tells his tale to the ship's captain. The tale consists of Frankenstein successfully creating a living being from body parts dug from graveyards, and a mysterious chemistry he has discovered. Frankenstein returns to his studio to find he has created an ugly "monster", from which he flees and abandons. The monster, though maybe 8-feet tall is a "naïve child". Despite his horrific appearance, he seeks love, affection and acceptance among humans....which he does not receive. He then begins a series of horrific acts of revenge calculated to punish his creator who has spurned him. The story ends with a climactic confrontation between Victor Frankenstein and the monster.
The themes are classic in this edition which is accompanied by Steampunk illustrations. The twin aspects of good and evil in human nature are evident in the creator, V. Frankenstein and the created monster. By seeking to be a co-creator, like his own God, Frankenstein creates an image of himself where evil and good exist side-by-side. Frankenstein is a cautionary tale for present day biological engineers, creators of artificial intelligence, and roboticists. If indeed, in any field, we attain a technological singularity where our creations become self-aware and self-sustaining, they will reflect our complex nature.
Seeing so clearly how our imagined and real creations can be both good and evil, in our own image, we can only again meditate on what we believe about our own creator. There is ample evidence in the sacred texts of all religions of this complex multi-dimensional aspect of a supreme being.
You, the reader of this review, might wonder what is meant by "Steampunk". From Wikipedia: "Steampunk is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world wherein steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date."
The Running Press edition of this classic book contains illustrations in a "steampunk" style.
On finishing, the reader should check out the web site of Running Press
which has published other Steampunk editions of HG Wells and Edgar Allen Poe.
I would highly recommend this one to fans of Steampunk and Frankenstein, as a unique piece for your bookshelves.
Quick & Dirty: The classic tale of a monster and his maker.
Opening Sentence: You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.
Mary Shelley's dark tale of horror and destruction isn't called a classic for nothing. Whether you need to read this for school or you are just looking for something special on a dark and stormy night, Frankenstein is a good choice. So what makes this book different from all the other copies out there? The illustrations are steampunk inspired, bringing a unique perspective without altering the original story.
The tale of Viktor Frankenstein and his creation would take far more time and space than I have available to properly explain. That said, I will endeavor to give you the basics. It begins with a letter: A letter to a beloved sister about her brother's adventures sailing in the Arctic Circle and the fortuitous meeting of one Victor Frankenstein. Why is such a man traveling in such an inhospitable wasteland? Here begins his sad and fatalistic tale.
Frankenstein goes to school. Frankenstein obsesses over creating life. Frankenstein creates life then is horrified by his creation. Frankenstein abandons the monster and goes home. The monster hunts his maker down and pleads his case for a mate of his own. Frankenstein agrees under duress and when he backs out of the deal, the monster kills everyone that Viktor loves, including his wife. Frankenstein declares war on the monster and hunts him down. Frankenstein dies and the monster follows shortly after.
It is truly a sad and depressing tale without any happy ending. While beautifully written, the true gem within the story is its philosophical themes. What is life? Who should decide who is worthy of humanity and mercy and who is not? Where is the line between genius and madness? Is the monster a product of nature or nurture? Would this tale have had a happier ending if Frankenstein took responsibility for his creation and bestowed the knowledge the monster would need to survive in polite society? Would the monster's vengeance been satisfied if Frankenstein had made another like its self? What if the escalation of supposed wrongs committed by both parties could have been prevented? These are just a few of the questions that arise from this cautionary tale. To be fair, stories of men tampering in things reserved for nature and God and it going horribly wrong makes for great reading.
The illustrations of this book are what set it apart from other editions of Frankenstein. Following key areas, each scene is portrayed in Technicolor steampunk vision; mechanical workings and fantastical scenery with indescribably unique inventions. In this case, the monster most definitely blends in well within this genre. Each individual picture is set within a postcard style framing or like an old time picture. Basic and Sumberac's uses of stark colors invites the reader further into the world of Frankenstein and his foleys. Most of the scenes chosen to be drawn are key to the novel itself, giving the reader yet another avenue to fuel their imagination.
Overall, this is a must read if you like fantasy or science fiction, if you can take the time and effort to get into the flowery prose. Knowing the original stories of a genre gives us greater insight into current ones. This particular version is well worth the money. Not only do you get a great story, you also get great visual renditions of captivating scenes along the way.
FTC Advisory: Running Press graciously provided me with a copy of Steampunk: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. No goody bags, sponsorships, "material connections," or bribes were exchanged for my review. The only payments I receive are hugs and kisses from my little boys.