Book Review: Frankenstein Dreams

Frankenstein Dreams
Edited by Michael Sims

My Edition:
Paperback, 387 pages
2017, Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781632860415 (hardcover)

This is a collection of Victorian sci-fi stories from writers such as Mary Shelley, HG. Wells, Jules Verne and Rudyard Kipling.

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.

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