Prophets of Science Fiction: Season 1, Episode 1

Mary Shelley (9 Nov. 2011)

TV Episode  -   -  Documentary
7.3
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Mary Shelley set out to create a monster--along the way she created a masterpiece. In 1816, she begins stitching together a patchwork of legend, technology, and personal tragedy- giving ... See full summary »

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Title: Mary Shelley (09 Nov 2011)

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Episode credited cast:
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Narrator (voice)
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...
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The Creature in 'Frankenstein' (archive footage)
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Clare Clairmont (as Jessica Wyckoff)
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Andre Fenton ...
Himself / neuroscientist, New York University
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Fritz in 'Frankenstein' (archive footage)
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Himself / Chief Coroner Investigator, Los Angeles County
Michio Kaku ...
Himself / theoretical physicist
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The Monster in 'Frankenstein' (archive footage)
Kim Stanley Robinson ...
Himself / science-fiction author
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Himself / writer
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Himself
Jeffrey Steinberg ...
Himself / U.S. Director, The Fertility Institutes [this is not the same Jeffrey Steinberg in IMDB database]
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Mary Shelley set out to create a monster--along the way she created a masterpiece. In 1816, she begins stitching together a patchwork of legend, technology, and personal tragedy- giving life to her novel, Frankenstein - and the genre of science fiction. Written by Anonymous

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9 November 2011 (USA)  »

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Deadly Air Around Us
By Craig Stuart Garfinkle
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Shallow, Error-Ridden Review of Mary's Frankenstein
25 May 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Mary Shelley, in her remarkable sci fi breakthrough novel asked all the right questions about science in relation to morality, but the superficiality of this episode from the "Prophets of Science Ficiton" series detracts from any praise that might have been meant. For instance, biographer Anne Mellor seems, amazingly, to have missed the whole point of the great novel by declaring that Mary Shelley probably thought it was all right to "go out and get dead pieces" to sew together to create a new species. This preposterous claim seems to be based on her feeling that since Mary frequently visited her mother's(Mary Wollstonecraft's) grave, she probably had deep thoughts about life and death and therefore would have advocated playing God to create pseudo-humans in the lab. The value of the novel is that it gives precisely and vividly a message opposite of that which Mellor proposes: Shelley warns those who believe themselves to have superior intellect, and thus feel justified in playing God with human life, create horrors,horrors. Victor Frankenstein's murderous and pathetic monster is the great illustration of this. With the exception of Michio Kaku, who gets it right, other commentators seems to miss the whole point,one that forms the theses of so many great science fiction novels and films. When we try to play God, terrible things happen. They brag on about how we can manipulate genes for gender, intellect, and skin color, etc., in our march toward designer children and "perfect" humans. Seemingly they haven't a clue about the moral implications (to which Shelley was so sensitive). She was the first sci fi novelist, truly a prophet who decried the coming dangers, and she did it brilliantly. In the film, scientist Jeffrey Steinberg admits scientists need to listen to the public, but it is wrong, he soberly tells us,to put "handcuffs" on a scientist. That is not the threat; the threat is that scientists themselves, seduced by their own research and self-perceived brilliance, will themselves fail to consider the moral impact of what they are doing. From Shelley, through Jules Verne, and on to today, that is the message of so many great science fiction writers. As Kaku, the one refreshing voice of reason in this botched documentary, says of Victor Frankenstein, "...he didn't think of the consequences."


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