Happy Birthday, Franz Kafka!

Yes, today marks the 130th birthday of influential German author Franz Kafka. Given my tastes in the dark and grotesque, I was of course overjoyed when "The Metamorphosis" was first assigned to me in school. I went on to read it again in German Class, making Kafka the only author I've really read in two languages. Just to refresh, it is of course the story of Gregor Samsa, who wakes to find himself transformed into a monstrous insect.*

His other works are of course notable too. Who can forget "A Hunger Artist" or "The Trial?" But his work has been highly influential in works of brooding, dark, abstract and nightmarish existential study. In other words: Kafkaesque.

So in honor of Kafka, let's take a moment to consider some wonderful transformations into monstrous vermin. We're forced to comprehend what we are by studying our descent into stranger forms.

* Kafka describes Gregor's new form as an "Ungeziefer verwandelt" or monsterous vermin, so he's not necessarily a giant insect. English translations, however, often throw in "insect-like."

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.