Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, commonly known as Frankenstein, is a novel that was written by Mary Shelley and first published in 1818. While it primarily falls into the horror genre, it's also a very early example of science fiction and some would argue that it was the first true science fiction story. It tells the story of Victor Frankenstein; a scientist who, through an experimental medical procedure, creates a living being and whose misunderstood creation goes onto become a murderous monster. Of course, most people are familiar with that much of the story, due to its many film adaptations. Unfortunately, most of those adaptations take a lot of liberties with the source material, leaving out or changing large portions of it.
The truly interesting thing about the novel is the many ways in which it can be interpreted. Like a lot of science fiction, it could be seen as a cautionary tale about the potential dangers of scientific advancement and it's ability to allow scientists to "play god". Along similar lines, it could be interpreted as a retelling of two different creation myths; the Greek legend of Prometheus, as evidenced by the subtitle and the biblical creation story. What makes these interpretations particularly intriguing is that the Prometheus interpretation casts Frankenstein as the fire-stealing Titan, but true to its Romantic origins, the novel is ambiguous as to whether his actions should be condemned or applauded and the biblical interpretation casts the creature as both Adam and Lucifer. One could argue that it's also a critique of both the Enlightenment's focus on science and reason and the Romantic era's encouragement of self-interest. It also questions the very nature of what it means to be human and, personally, I prefer to read it as story about the dangers of parental neglect. Of course, these are just a few of the many possible interpretations of that have kept this groundbreaking novel continuously relevant and make it one of the great masterpieces of genre fiction.
I'll leave you with the SparkNotes video about Frankenstein, a two-part examination of the novel from Crash Course, which I borrowed a lot from while writing this post and, since it's in the public domain, the full audiobook and a list of free ebooks on Goodreads. You can also, most likely, find it at your local library and at just about any bookstore.
If there's a movie, recording artist, anime, podcast or any other media that you'd like me to check out for possible inclusion on the rec list, please contact me and let me know about it.