Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday Excerpt: A Sensation of Madness

Now Playing: Hans Zimmer - S.T.A.Y (Interstellar OST)

[Introduction].

Just like I did my last two favorites back to back, I'm going to do the same here and do my other two favorite books back to back.

Confession: I delayed this because I couldn't pick a section. At least with Lolita, deep down inside I knew I'd lose the fight and just succumb into picking the opening paragraphs. With A Clockwork Orange, it was just a matter of choosing between Alex at his highest or at his lowest. (And lowest is always much more fun).

Here, I was torn. At first, I wanted to quote from the middle sections, when the creature is finally given the chance to speak. But I ended up gravitating to another moment, one where you can imagine Victor and the creature's horror equally.

Throughout the entire book, there's the constant feeling of isolation and fear until it just turns into despair. And it's what connects Victor to his creation.

Some spoilers for the second half of the book.

(artwork by David Ho).

I trembled and my heart failed within me, when, on looking up, I saw by the light of the moon the daemon at the casement. A ghastly grin wrinkled his lips as he gazed on me, where I sat fulfilling the task which he had allotted to me. Yes, he had followed me in my travels; he had loitered in forests, hid himself in caves, or taken refuge in wide and desert heaths; and he now came to mark my progress and claim the fulfillment of my promise. 
As I looked on him, his countenance expressed the utmost extent of malice and treachery. I thought with a sensation of madness on my promise of creating another like to him, and trembling with passion, tore to pieces the thing on which I was engaged. The wretch saw me destroy the creature on whose future existence he depended for happiness, and with a howl of devilish despair and revenge, withdrew. 
I left the room, and, locking the door, made a solemn vow in my own heart never to resume my labours; and then, with trembling steps, sought my own apartment. I was alone; none were near me to dissipate the gloom, and relieve me from the sickening oppression of the most terrible reveries. 
Several hours passed, and I remained near my window gazing on the sea; it was almost motionless, for the winds were hushed, and all nature reposed under the eye of the quiet moon.
- Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

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"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.