Televised Murders, Oompa-Loompas , and Other Reasons I Hate Library Genre Stickers.
If asked, most people would say that the literary genres of science fiction and fantasy are as different from each other as night and day. However, one has only to go to a local library to see that the line between them is greatly blurred.
Any book may be shelved as science fiction if it is speculative.(1,2) That is: if it takes current technology, science, social situations, economy, and/or environmental conditions and imagines them in a different –possibly improved – way. Popular examples of this would be H. G. Wells, The Time Machine, Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park,(review HERE) most of Robert Heinlein’s works: Red Planet, Podkayne of Mars, Farmer in the Sky, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451,(review HERE) and Suzanna Collins’s the Hunger Games series.(3) Many would argue that the last two titles on the list are dystopian and not science fiction, but when you boil it down, dystopian is only a sub-genre of science fiction. The society has been changed for the worse, there is usually some new technology, new science, and a climate change. Of course, for most dystopian books there is little chance of our society ever sinking to that level of strangeness and decay – but it is just possible that we could soon be celebrating the first annual Hunger Game, have microchips implanted in us at birth, or witness a child executed because they picked the wrong slip of paper
Fantasy, on the other hand, is classified as the impossible happening in our world or another. Magic and wizards, dragons and elves, strange peoples and unusual objects all find their genre home between the pages of fantasy novels. Common examples of the genre are: the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin, Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, and Robin McKinley’s duo: The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown.(4)
The ultimate genre clash is one called: science fantasy. This is where the impossible and possible meet and battle for which bookstore shelf their host novel will be shown on. Works that fall into this category are: Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (quantum physics with witches)(review HERE)(5), The Avengers (Ironman and the Norse gods), Star Wars (spaceships and the Force), Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (a science experiment on spiritual substances), Daniel Kraus and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water (aerospace research and an amphibious guy), and Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (a mad inventor and Oompa-Loompas). (6,7,8)
If one were to take a step back and observe both the science fiction and fantasy genres, you would find that most science fiction books are merely fantasy with a splash of conceivable science. A hundred years ago, flying to the moon was pure fantasy, but now some have questioned if putting space travel in a book even makes it science fiction. Cloning, which was once considered an impossibility, has now been performed on many kinds of animals.(9) Who knows, in a hundred years from now our world might have time-machines, teleportation, fusion reactors, and men in different solar systems.(10, 11)
Only one thing is certain: fantasy is where all our great inventions are born.
“With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to the truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.” (Page 58)
Title: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Written by: Robert Louis Stevenson
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Longmans, Green & Co.
Publication Date: January 5, 1886
Paperback: 128 pages
I think it would be best if I let Mr. Stevenson summarize the plot of his book for you. “I want to write about a fellow who was two fellows.”
Mr. Hyde is a feared man.
Dr. Jekyll is a respected man.
Mr. Hyde causes harm to every man.
Dr. Jekyll doesn’t wish harm on any man.
Mr. Hyde is a mad man,
Dr. Jekyll is too.
I found this novella dark, compelling, and fascinating.
Dr. Jekyll is a good man with good intentions and is faced with his inner Darkness in human form.
Mr. Hyde is a monster.
He is cruel, abusive, and a murderer. Yet there is something that draws the good doctor to Mr. Hyde’s dark freedom.
I’m not sure what I would do if ever placed in such a situation, but I pray I would not follow in the steps of Dr. Jekyll.
The story is well written and thought out. Robert Louis Stevenson has written several dark short stories that I did not enjoy but I found myself liking this particular novella.
I found it interesting while many stories will focus on people who have two different sides to their personalities, this is the only one I’ve read that uses people to represent them.
Plus, it is a classic I can finally cross off my mile long To-read list.
I recommend this novella to older readers who enjoy horror stories, a slightly Gothic London, or are simply fans of Robert Louis Stevenson’s works.
For More Information about the Book and Author Click: HERE
Age Range: 14 – adult
Cautions – *Contains Slight Spoilers*
Violence: Hyde walks into/over a child and clubs a man to death. Hyde makes Jekyll do terrible things to himself. A man commits suicide. The book is not graphically violent but has dark themes which make it more intense.
Profanity: God’s name is taken in vain several times.
Other(drugs/alcohol): Drugs play a major role in this story. Jekyll lies. Hyde is a cruel man.
Personal Rating: 3 ½ out of 5 stars
Cleanness Rating: 3 ½ out of 5 stars
Got My Facts Here:
(1) https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/science fiction