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Two incredible 1800’s-era scifi books – including Mary Shelley’s other novel

I do this thing where I share (or try to share) free scifi with the folks on my mailing list – and not just free stuff from Amazon, either, but stuff that I read and find genuinely intriguing.

One of these is Flatland . Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions is like the Gulliver’s Travels of scifi. Written by ‘A Square’, it uses the two-dimensional world of Flatland as a satire on hierarchy in Victorian society. It’s a difficult read but it’s both an excellent study of dimensions and society. Women are simple line-segments, while men are polygons, and so on.

Download from Project Gutenberg

But the real find of this week is The Last Man. Mary Shelley, mother of Frankenstein’s monster, wrote another book. It’s post-apocalyptic fiction set in a world destroyed by a plague. I hadn’t heard of it, and when I posted it on Facebook it turned out I wasn’t the only one.

Here it is from Project Gutenberg.

If I had to take a shot at why nobody seems to know or remember this book, it might be that Frankenstein was such a game-changer that it basically overshadowed her other work. But seriously – this should be worth a read, and apparently, according to those who have read it, it draws on some very true-to-life stuff on Percy Shelley (Mary’s husband) and Lord Byron (who seems to have been, ah, rather linked to them. Am I the only one thinking Resident Evil and Mad Max right now?

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