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Frankenstein Dreams: A Connoisseur's…
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Frankenstein Dreams: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Science…

by Michael Sims (Editor)

Other authors: Grant Allen (Contributor), Ambrose Bierce (Contributor), Wardon Allan Curtis (Contributor), Arthur Conan Doyle (Contributor), Mary E. Wilkins Freeman (Contributor)14 more, Alice W. Fuller (Contributor), Thomas Hardy (Contributor), Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Contributor), Rudyard Kipling (Contributor), Richard Adams Locke (Contributor), Florence McLandburgh (Contributor), Edward Page Mitchell (Contributor), E. Nesbit (Contributor), Edgar Allan Poe (Contributor), William Henry Rhodes (Contributor), Mary Shelley (Contributor), Robert Louis Stevenson (Contributor), Jules Verne (Contributor), H. G. Wells (Contributor)

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So what did science fiction look like when modern science was still in its infancy? Michael Sims has put together a collection of 19th century short science fiction stories that illustrate not only the breadth and the creativity of the field prior to the turn of the 20th century, but also the creepy prescience of some of the writers (if not for strict scientific fact, then for topics that would remain scifi staples into the current day).

In this collection we find mechanical brides made to order, vicious monsters awaiting daring pilots in the upper levels of the atmosphere, superhuman senses, alternate dimensions, strange aliens, time travel, and apocalyptic plagues and disasters. The stories, which include samples from authors like Mary Shelley, Edgar Allen Poe, Jules Verne, and Rudyard Kipling, range from chapter excerpts to short stories to stories fashioned so like news items that, War of the Worlds-style, many people accepted them as fact.

My biggest complaint is that for the bigger names in the collection, clearly selected for their name recognition to the larger public, Sims has largely chosen to include only bits of chapters from their most famous works. As someone who looks to these collections to find little known authors or stories, this was a bit frustrating. I would have preferred something a little more off the beaten path.

Fans of Victorian literature and scifi buffs should check this volume out. In these stories, we can see the seed of inspiration for a number of modern tales.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  irregularreader | Dec 8, 2017 |
Sims' capsule introductions to the various pieces included here are to the point and well done, and there are some excellent stories here, but quite a few not-so-great ones too. If you've any interest in the topic at all, you've likely read most of the good ones elsewhere, too, which doesn't help. Nor does the use of extracts from longer works here, which didn't work well at all for me. Overall, then, a bit of a miss with this one, I'm sorry to say. ( )
  JBD1 | Oct 21, 2017 |
This review and others posted over at my blog.

I thought this would be right up my alley, but I almost DNF’d it. I kept on because it’s a shorts collection, so I reminded myself that even if I wasn’t enjoying one story, something by a different author would be up next.

This collection was a mixed bag for me. Most of the stories I really liked were snippets from classic novels that I would like to read someday. There were a few other true short stories that I liked, but many I found boring and/or confusing.

Here are my highlights:

Dreams of Forgotten Alchemists (from Frankenstein) by Mary Shelley – I really need to just read the novel. Honestly, when the doctor was talking I was so bored, but then the monster showed up and started to plead his case for a chance at life and then the story ended! I don’t know if that’s only part of the novel or what part, or if it was edited (because in the little note it seemed like maybe this was the first draft? I can’t recall) but I needed more! It ended just as it started to pique my interest!

Man-Bats on the Moon by Richard Adams Locke – This read like a topography lesson of the moon. I couldn’t picture nearly anything and was so utterly lost. I wanted more man-bats and less physical descriptions of the moon. I couldn’t even tell you what it’s about.

The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar by Edgar Allen Poe – This was excellent and the first Poe I’ve read since high school. It deals with mesmerism and the living dead and it was gross and creepy and puzzling and I wanted more.

A Walk on the Bottom of the Sea (from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea) by Jules Verne – Yet again, a reminder that I need to read the novel. This was a chapter or two while a team is under water (hence the title) exploring. Once more, just as it started to get good, it ended.

The Senator’s Daughter by Edward Page Mitchell – This was my favorite story in the collection! There’s plenty of future tech crammed into Victorian England surrounding a story about a man who cannot be with the girl he loves because he’s foreign. Mitchell dreamed up teleportation tubes, meals in pellet form, talk boxes and even cryo tubes! I wanted this to be a full-length novel.

A Horror of the Spirit (from Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde) by Robert Louis Stevenson – This didn’t intrigue me like I thought it would and I’m hoping because it’s another snippet of the novel and not because I won’t enjoy the novel if I ever get around to it.

A Wife Manufactured to Order by Alice W. Fuller – This was a little Stepford Wives-like tale, where a man gets a wife made to his liking (out of wax…ew) and all’s well and good until her boring complacency starts to drive him nuts. I liked the idea but the ending was so convenient that it was less believable than a living wax wife.

I passed this collection on to a friend and while I didn’t love it, there were a few stories that held my interest. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mindset to absorb Victorian sci-fi – it’s not always easy to plop down and read classical writing in the way it can be to read something more modern. It at least opened my eyes to the words of Edward Page Mitchell and I’m hoping I can get my hands on more from him. If you like Victorian stories and sci-fi, Frankenstein Dreams is at least worth borrowing from the library.

I received this book for free from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own. ( )
  MillieHennessy | Sep 20, 2017 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sims, MichaelEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Allen, GrantContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bierce, AmbroseContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Curtis, Wardon AllanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Doyle, Arthur ConanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Freeman, Mary E. WilkinsContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fuller, Alice W.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hardy, ThomasContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Higginson, Thomas WentworthContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kipling, RudyardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Locke, Richard AdamsContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McLandburgh, FlorenceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, Edward PageContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nesbit, E.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Poe, Edgar AllanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rhodes, William HenryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shelley, MaryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, Robert LouisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Verne, JulesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wells, H. G.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Long before 1984, Star Wars, or The Hunger Games, Victorian authors imagined a future where new science and technologies reshaped the world and universe they knew. The great themes of modern science fiction showed up surprisingly early: space and time travel, dystopian societies, even dangerously independent machines, all inspiring the speculative fiction of the Victorian era. In Frankenstein Dreams, Michael Sims has gathered many of the very finest stories, some by classic writers such as Jules Verne, Mary Shelley, and H.G. Wells, but many that will surprise general readers. Dark visions of the human psyche emerge in Thomas Wentworth Higginson's "The Monarch of Dreams," while Mary E. Wilkins Freeman provides a glimpse of "the fifth dimension" in her provocative tale "The Hall Bedroom." With contributions by Edgar Allan Poe, Alice Fuller, Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Hardy, Arthur Conan Doyle, and many others, each introduced by Michael Sims, whose elegant introduction provides valuable literary and historical context, Frankenstein Dreams is a treasure trove of stories known and rediscovered.--Provided by Publisher.… (more)

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