Monthly Archives: October 2020

Ep050 Frankenstein

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The monumental work of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, often believed to be the first work of science fiction. In this episode we discuss the 1813 version. Victor Frankenstein studies natural philosophy and dabbles in alternative methods that culminates in Frankenstein’s creation of the fiend. The fiend runs away, learns, grows and only when rejected by the world does the fiend return to his creator. The fiend demands Frankenstein to create a lover, a partner to share the horrors of the world, but Frankenstein rejects this notion. The conflict escalates as the fiend kills those closest to Frankenstein and Frankenstein turns to attempting to kill the fiend.

Book Discussion

  • The era Frankenstein was written in. In 1813 Western Europe transitioned from the Enlightenment to Romanticism while. Artistically the novel was very young: Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, Washington Irving were the contemporary writers of this time. The formalized novel written by
  • The framing of horror – how horror is written within the timeframe. Shelley utilizes a framing device of notes from a ship’s captain. This framing device is similar those found in the works of Washington Irving: found stories as a means to hint at this story potentially being real. This tradition of found stories continues to this day in horror through the motif of found footage.
  • Is Frankenstein not given enough credit? Frankenstein created a fiend, a monster, and does that make him a villain? Frankenstein portrays himself as a villain, but is that fair? Frankenstein overreached, made a mistake, and then when the monster returns Frankenstein decides to destroy his own creation. The fiend is self-aware. The fiend decides to become a monster, while Frankenstein gives up everything to make right his errors with the fiend better.
  • The contemporary nature of story, neither the fiend nor Frankenstein are acting strictly for nefarious reasons.
  • Theme: Are you responsible for that which you create? Jurassic Park sees John Hammond bring dinosaurs back from the dead. These dinosaurs are beasts and do not have a choice to be evil. The fiend makes a conscious choice to kill. If the fiend is able to make ethical choices, does the responsibility fall on Frankenstein? When does a child become an adult?
  • How Frankenstein, the story, has been morphed through over time. How there is a cultural expectation of what Frankenstein, the story, is supposed to be.


Ep049 The Specialist’s Hat by Kelly Link

The Specialist’s Hat by Kelly Link

Happy October! To celebrate the spooky month of October we are discussing the ghost story The Specialist’s Hat by Kelly Link. Kelly Link is an award winning author known for genre-combination and magical realism. The Specialist’s Hat contains horror, fantasy, suspense, and realism exemplifying Kelly Link’s style. Find Kelly Link’s Specialist’s Hat here.

Discussed this episode

  • The unreliable narrator. Despite not having a specific point of view character, the narrator of the story keeps reality ambiguous. The narrator sets up an expectation–for example the children play at dead–but then later on it is referenced that there is no pain and only no pain when death occurs. Statement of the truth followed later by a contradictory statement of truth provide a level of unsettlement. This unease forces the reader to question what is presented: is it true? What is the actual truth?
  • Characterization by means of showing. The children are studying numbers, and throughout the story numbers are referenced: the number of stories in the house, the number of chimneys, the number of windows. The characterization of the children as individuals who study numbers is then reinforced within the narrative.
  • The use of journal entries as ways to provide additional information and to break up the narration. Various epigraphs, which are poems from an author within the story, break up the story as a way to introduce the Specialist, and also other haunting elements of the house.
  • The invocation of horror. The Specialist is brought up several times, and each time just enough information is provided to allow the reader to fill out with horror. The Specialist is someone who is coming. Ghosts are hinted at. Strangers in the woods. These little descriptions and asides are enough to weave a framework to create suspense and build off of the unease of the narration.

November is Next Month!

Make sure to follow Reid in National Novel Writing Month. Follow him as he takes over the Leave It To The Prose Twitter and attempts word sprints and plotting.