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Japanese edition

Mad Science and Modern Culture

"...a pioneering book that uncovers the deep roots of many common fears of our age."
--Washington Post

American edition: W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1997. Japanese edition: Seidosha, Tokyo, 2000.


From Frankenstein to Jurassic Park, the mad scientist in his restless quest for world domination and godlike dominion is one of the modern world's most instantly recognizable, yet least understood icons.

In Screams of Reason, David J. Skal, America's premier chronicler of popular culture's dasrker obsessions, explores our perennial fascination with demented doctors, crazed clinicians, and technology-obsessed fiends. From nineteenth century Romantic literature to Dr. Strangelove and Hannibal Lecter, the mad scientist proves himself to be a figure of myriad masks and guises -- a far more interesting archetype than the nerd-run-amok of B-movies would indicate.

A prototype outsider, shunted off to the sidelines of serious discourse -- to Saturday matinees, pulp novels, comic books and cartoons -- the mad scientist, Skal argues, is a necessary lightning rod for otherwise unbearable anxieties about the consequences of modern science and technology. Illuminating everything from the eggheaded embodiment of 1950s anti-intellectualism to the contemporary anxiety about designer genetics (a field all too eager to "tamper in God's domain"), Skal brilliantly dissects and celebrates two centuries' worth of perfectly amoral monsters draped with shining stethoscopes and attended by adoring, malevolent hunchbacks.

Screams of Reasonis an insightful, provocative, and always amusing exploration of the prop-laden laboratories of 1930s Hollywood, the mad-science mystique that colors the cult of the computer, the pseudo-science folklore of UFO abductions, and the demonization of doctors and medicine in the brave new world of HMOs and managed are.
Whether examining the Heaven's Gate suicides, the Luddite mania of the Unabomber, the Freudian implications of the Frankenstein monster's forehead scar, Screams of Reason will forever change your perceptions of those maniacs in white lab coat who forever haunt our technological dreams and nightmares -- what they tell us, what they want, and and why they never go away.

Selected Works

The ultimate "collector's vault"!
There's much more to the Invisible Man than ever met the eye!
How horror entertainment reveals a "secret history" of 20th century culture.
A comprehensive, backstage chronicle at the undying career of the world's favorite vampire.
An in-depth history of one of America's most popular and perplexing holidays.
Co-edited with Nina Auerbach, the definitive academic edition.
The first full-length biography of the reclusive and mysterious director of "Freaks."
One of the largest vampire anthologies ever published, fully illustrated and annotated.
"The Bible of Blood," according to the Washington Post.
Completely illustrated and annotated, the stage play that put Count Dracula on the road to Hollywood.
The curious evolution of a major cultural icon -- the mad scientist.
Science fiction nvel about a California cult seeking total body replacement
Science fiction novel about genetically engineered, hermaphroditic "children."
Science fiction novel about the ultimate in vicarious living.
DVD Documentaries
A revealing featurette about a Universal legend.
Audio commentary for the ultimate cult film.
The ultimate horror icon comes to life.
Life story of the troubled actor best-known as the Wolf Man.
Biography of the man who was Dracula.
The life and career of Hollywood's favorite bogeyman.
A movie icon unwrapped.
The parallel lives of two immortal imagineers.
A nostalgic look at a studio's extraterrestrial adventures.
Revisiting Hollywood's classic horror comedies.
The undying tale of a beauty and a beast.
Behind the scenes with an Academy Award-winning film.
A head-first dive into watery terror.
There's more to this character than meets the eye.
The monster demands a mate, with decidedly mixed results.
The vampire's bumpy journey from Victorian sex nightmare to modern matinee idol.
Articles and Essays
Read David's foreword to this provocative collection!