In writing about robots, brilliant Isaac Asimov is conforming to a highly respected literary tradition. The first robot (although the word itself was not invented until decades later) to achieve international notice was the celebrated monster created by Mary Shelley. Ever since 1818, the monster has been known erroneously as Frankenstein. Actually, it was the young medical student who put together the odds and ends of corpses he snatched from graveyards and dissecting rooms who was named Frankenstein. Mrs. Shelley never named the monster itself. Yet at least once a week we hear some distinguished (if illiterate) statesman arise to talk of the atom bomb in such terms as, “It will be impossible for us to control the Frankenstein we have created.” (This is a minor and perhaps needless observation, but the constant reiteration of the mistake has annoyed me considerably for some twenty years, and I would like to put my annoyance on record.)
—The Fiction Factory by Quentin Reynolds, 1954
One Reply to “Your pedantry isn’t as new as you think it is…”
Yeah, no, Frankenstein’s Monster is NOT a robot. I give Reynolds the wording error, but a created flesh-and-blood person is not a robot.