“I have the soul of an explorer, and in nine of ten cases this leads to destruction.”

In 1835, a series of “scientific” articles appeared in the New York Sun describing recent revelations about the moon and its inhabitants — courtesy of developments in telescope technology. Public demand was so high that the Sun reprinted 100,000 copies. And though there was a healthy amount of skepticism, there were also plenty of true believers. It was the 19th century, after all; anything was possible now.

This is one of the early entries in Frankenstein Dreams, and it’s a canny choice. For a story nearly two centuries old, it echoes clearly down the years: the faux reportage, the scientific affect of the narrator, the thrill of something newly discovered. It’s modern enough that we know its descendants in contemporary science fiction, and just old enough that it reads as a product of its time.

That sense of the unfamiliar familiar seems to have been a guiding principle of this anthology. With the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein just around the corner, several upcoming releases will be illuminating that cornerstone of science fiction. (This book also has the obligatory excerpt from the novel.) But Frankenstein Dreams, an anthology of mostly-Victorian science fiction edited by Michael Sims — whose prior anthologies have tackled Victorian ghosts, detectives and vampires — is more interested in how that novel fits the wider scope of Shelley’s century and shaped the genre after it.

NPR.org: In ‘Frankenstein Dreams,’ Everything Is Possible — And Also Terrifying