Conclusion: the Frankenstein Inheritance
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Ursula Le Guin’s reply to her question ‘[a] metaphor for what?’ is to demonstrate how the writing of sf proceeds from a need to express a truth, a concept, a conviction or a question which, like Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘important truths, needed but unpopular’, find their most potent expression through the invention of imaginary worlds in which the future has already happened. For Le Guin, as for Gilman, allows them temporarily to suspend belief in the present, and to lend their creative tools to characters that use up their typewriter ink delineating alternatives which demonstrate responses that are both playful and political to the dilemmas presented by contemporary life. The Frankenstein Inheritance, then, is the freedom to imagine beyond the confines of contemporary social life and the restrictions of contemporary politics, and, like Mary Shelley, to dream a world into existence: a world structured by the possibilities of scientific theory but informed, necessarily, by the politics of gender. Necessarily, because here, at the dawn of the 21st century, when the first Challenger mission commanded by a woman has finally seen lift-off and the work of women scientists, both present and past, is being increasingly recognised, we can still read imagined worlds without gender hierarchies or oppression as utopian. When the psychic positioning of the Nazis in Swastika Night3 or the entrenched masculinity of Maltzer in ‘No Woman Born’ or of Avram in Body of Glass no longer makes sense, then, perhaps, these works will only survive as reminders of what might have been.
KeywordsWoman Scientist Contemporary Life Imaginary World Gender Hierarchy Contemporary Politics
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