Did Nathaniel Hawthorne write Science Fiction?

Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1841, a
Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1841, a “prudent and efficient” consul. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SYNOPSIS: A young, handsome traveler arrives in medieval Italy. He meets a beautiful woman, the daughter of an eccentric scientist. The young man doesn’t know that the old scientist has altered his daughter’s meta-genome, making her into the deadliest poison known to humankind.

Sounds like a forgotten David Tennant era Doctor Who story, doesn’t it? Maybe crossed with an older Tom Baker story like The Seeds of Doom?

Would it surprise you to know that it was written 119 years before the first Doctor Who episode by none other than Nathaniel Hawthorne?

Rappaccini’s Daughter, as a story, has always been way ahead of its time. Examining the effects of scientific progress on the nature of mankind, as well as the themes of Good versus Evil, the line between voyeurism and adoration, and the ways that fantasy can collide with stark reality.

Rappaccinis Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
This has always been one of my favorite stories. I used it in classes many times as an Educator with both English students and Actors. So, when I was offered the opportunity to record audiobooks of literary classics, I asked that my first offering would be this one.

My wife set up her paints in my studio as I read. She painted as I read Hawthorne’s words. The artwork for the cover is the result of that collaboration.

More of her paintings can be found at www.puahlove.com.

The audiobook can be purchased here: AudibleiTunesAmazon

2 Replies to “Did Nathaniel Hawthorne write Science Fiction?”

  1. I love that story, but never actively thought of it as sci-fi before. Or maybe enough of the stuff I read blends those lines that I didn’t think of it as “hard” sci-fi, so I never bothered categorizing it. But you’re right, it’d be a great Dr. Who story. Now I need to pick up your audiobook.

    1. I’ve been seeing Doctor Who plot lines in a lot of things lately. It may be time to revive the old audio drama podcast 🙂

      Let me know what you think of the story once you listen.

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