There’s been an uneasy alliance between science and the imagination ever since alchemy became chemistry and astrology gave way to astronomy, because science, and its daughter, technology, are, to mix metaphors a bit, double-edged swords. They cut both ways.
On one hand, as Richard Nixon demonstrated to Nikita Khrushchev in the famous “kitchen debates,” science and technology can enrich individuals’ daily lives, making mundane tasks easier and life in general more convenient.
On the other hand, the same body of knowledge that results in washing machines and microwave ovens and personal computers also delivers such monstrosities as machineguns, napalm, and atomic bombs.
With the advent of science fiction, could horror’s use of the mad scientist--or, sometimes, just mad science--and its inventions be far behind? The short answer is, No. Thanks to this hybrid organism, we have such takes as Algernon Blackwood’s “Entrance and Exit,” Christopher Blayre’s “Aalila,” Bernard Capes’ “The Moon Stricken,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Los Amigos Fiasco,” Jerome K. Jerome’s “The Dancing-Partner,” Jack London’s “The Amateur M. D.” and “The Shadow and the Flash,” Edward Page Mitchell’s “The Ablest Man in the World,” “The Man Without a Body,” and “The Senator’s Daughter,” W. C. Morrow’s “The Monster Maker,” Edith Nesbit’s “The Haunted House,” Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, M. P. Shiel’s The Purple Cloud, and H. G. Wells’ “Under the Knife,” to name only a few.
In “The Los Amigos Fiasco,” a condemned man benefits from a town’s attempt to electrocute him. “The Ablest Man in the World” is a cyborg with a clockwork brain. In The Purple Cloud, Adam Jeffson, surviving a global catastrophe after returning home, alone, from an expedition to the arctic, discovers he is the last man alive. Set in 1937, “The Senator’s Daughter” predicts pneumatic tube travel, electric heating, home-printed newspapers, food pills, suspended animation, and other technological marvels that are matched by the social changes he forecasts, which include women’s suffrage and interracial marriage. The surgical patient in “Under the Knife” develops clairvoyance and has a both near-death experience, followed by an out-of-body experience, after his surgeon severs a vein. “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” causes him to learn that science can deliver benefits, such as eternal youth, that may not be all that beneficial.
Interested parties, which may include you, can access these stories at Horror Masters.