In the horrible/uncharitable/anti-feminist introduction by Rieger to the edition I’m reading, he claims that we shouldn’t see Frankenstein as precursor to science fiction because: “The science-fiction writers says, in effect, since x has been experimentally proven or theoretically postulated, y can be achieved by the following, carefully documented operation. Mary Shelley skips to the outcome and asks, if y had been achieved, by whatever means, what would be the moral consequences? In other words, she skips the science” (xxvii). This reflects a simplistic notion of science fiction, both its motivation and its actual content. Predictive fiction – I think of P.D. James’s Children of Men or Asimov’s I, Robot – considers the consequences of certain futures or developments. A gesture might be made to the “how” of such development but the emphasis is on postulation of consequences; the scientist (or more likely, technologist or engineer) deals with “how” and it is precisely the privilege of the fiction author to assess what would happen if such and such were possible, by whatever means. The scientist takes on supernatural (as in superintendent of nature) or natural powers; god-like or nature-like, she can bend or determine the laws of life. In this, she fulfills a role more like God in Paradise Lost than the author of a how-to-create-y text-book, as Rieger implies. Perhaps the science fiction reader enjoys the possibility than a person could accomplish y by “scientific” –i.e. human and natural – means more than by “magic” – i.e. supernatural in the sense of nothing-to-do-with nature – that tends to dominate so-called fantasy novels. But the effect of such accomplishments, the world brought about by a new technical or physical possibility, that is almost always the focus of “science fiction,” or again, as I would prefer, predictive fiction.