|[Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com, CC-BY-SA-3.0]|
Today is the start of the Blogging from A-Z Challenge hosted by Arlee Bird and his team of awesome bloggers. The idea is to post something on your blog every day throughout April except for Sundays which gives you 26 blog posts in total-one for each letter of the alphabet. This year will be my second time participating and so far more than 1500 people have signed up for the challenge! My A-Z theme is: Elements and features of speculative fiction and entertainment. So throughout April I will be blogging about characters, objects and themes that appear in sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian series.
But first, I want to mention something else that starts with A: Arlee Bird! He is the founder of the A-Z challenge and I would like to offer him a massive thank you for starting it. I’ve had so much fun joining in, and am really grateful that Arlee came up with the idea and made it happen. Thanks again!
Today’s post is all about Alchemy. Alchemy was an ancient philosophical practice that involved attempting to turn base metals into gold and silver using a mixture of early science and magic. Some alchemists sought to discover the legendary ‘philosopher’s stone’, believed to be an elixir of life which would grant immortality.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Before he endeavoured to create the ‘monster’, Victor Frankenstein was searching for ‘the philosopher’s stone and the elixir of life’, which was believed to be capable of ‘bestowing animation upon lifeless matter’, (what he eventually achieves). Chapters 2-4 describe how as a boy he read the work of several different alchemists and became fascinated with their ideas. He tries to wed the methodological aspects of science with the metaphysical visions of alchemy to discover the answer to the questions and mysteries that plague his soul.
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Novels
In the Discworld novels, alchemy is mocked somewhat as a fool’s occupation. The Alchemist’s Guild is ‘known more for its failures than its successes.’ They are known for producing regular explosions, even blowing up their own building and accidentally killing themselves off. They dabble with all sorts of chemical reactions including developing ‘octo-cellulose film’ which led to the discovery of moving pictures and transmuting things into artificial ivory. They are wary, though, of dabbling in anything ‘magical’, instead favouring science.