Frankenstein is a precursor science fiction novel written in 1818 by Mary Shelley. The story concerns a medical student, Victor Frankenstein, who succeeds in creating life from dismembered human corpses. Mary Shelley and her husband were house guests of Lord Byron At Villa Diodati near Geneva during the notoriously wet and cold summer of 1816. To pass the time, Byron challenged his house guests to each write a story of the supernatural. One of the guests, John Polidori, would create the first vampire story in English, The Vampyre. For her part, Mary Shelley's story came out of a waking dream:
I saw -- with shut eyes, but acute mental vision, -- I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. — Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, Preface
The Novel, with its central image of a man destroyed by his pursuit of power has had a powerful influence on western thought. Innumerable movies have been made retelling the story, from James Whale's 1931 version to less serious attempts such as Mel Brooks Young Frankenstein and Richard O'Briens Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Frankenstein differs from earlier stories of the fantastic in its use of science instead of the supernatural as a driving force. Nonetheless it can also be placed in the context of the Gothic novel and romanticism in general.