Without contraries there is no progression : scientific speculation and absence in Frankenstein, Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and “The colour out of space”
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Due to their inclusion of characters or objects that are the result of scientific investigation or subject to scientific scrutiny, Frankenstein, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and “The Colour Out of Space” are works that may be classified as science fiction. However, despite these narratives’ engagement with scientific practice, at crucial moments when scientific description would be expected, it is prominently absent. This report investigates the effects of these absences within the narratives and suggests that such absences do not appear due to the author’s unfamiliarity with the science of her or his era, but rather serve the positive purpose of creating the effect of the sublime through horror, which is most effective when the reader is forced to confront the unknown or unreadable. To corroborate this hypothesis, this report also examines the treatment of certain hybrids within the three stories and the way that the terror they inspire seems to rely on the ways in which they mingle the known with the unknown and resist coherent description. Overall, this report seeks to illuminate the complex interaction of the known and the not yet known that has enabled a fruitful interaction between science fiction and horror as genres since the inception of science fiction as a definable genre.