Friday, March 11, 2011

An Auspicious (Monstrous) Anniversary

by Sara Crow

On this date in 1818, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley published her first edition of a novel that would rock the literary world to its core--a book about the monstrous, about being an alien in a human world, and about living a life beholden to an even more monstrous majority.

During the dark and cold summer of 1816, known throughout Europe as "The Year Without a Summer" due to the ash spewed across the globe from the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Tambora halfway across the planet in Indonesia, Shelley and friends were stuck inside at a summer home rented from friends. Shelley's dark tale was written as a part of a contest between herself, her husband, her sister, and their mutual friends, John Polidori (author of "The Vampyre," a concept he actually lifted from Byron's tale that night), and Lord Byron, in an attempt to help them all write through the chill and the rain and avoid their own boredom-induced madness. 

Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus recounts the story of Doctor Victor Frankenstein, who discovers the spark of life and uses it to "give birth" to a new form of life with body parts filched from the freshly-dead. Chaos and moral ambiguity ensues. 

And no, before you ask, Frankenstein is NOT the name of the monster. So stop calling the Monster Frankenstein, okay? Good. Moving on.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

"Born This Way" Offers Sci Fi Geek Gurrl Love to all Little Monsters

by Sara Crow

Lady Gaga has been my “Mommy Monster” since I first saw her video for “Bad Romance,” loaded with enough horror, feminist and silent film references to give a geek like me a complete nerdgasm. Her music has its own fun and strength on its own, but she’s constantly raised the bar with her music videos, usually revealing layers of meaning to her lyrics by the drama playing out in glorious, sublime imagery.  

Imagine my delight when I came across Gaga’s newest video, which implants a healthy dose of science fiction on top of her already established cinematic alchemy of classic film and horror/gothic imagery, enlivening the very straightforward message of “Born This Way” with a commentary on the problematic qualities of any utopia, alluding to science fiction masters such as Philip K. Dick and Ursula LeGuin in content and imagery.