Frankissstein: A Love Story

Grove. Oct. 2019. 352p. ISBN 9780802129499. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780802129505. F
In this bold and humorous narrative, award-winning author Winterson (The Gap of Time) connects the past and the present. In the past, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, considers her expatriate life with her husband, poet Percy Shelley; Lord Byron; and others, revealing the evolution of the story of this famous novel by a female writer amid the patriarchal constrictions of the early 1800s. The present narrative blasts off at a robotics conference with an emphasis on sexual gratification via robot. Here we meet the transgender Dr. Ry Shelly, supplier of severed limbs to Victor Stein, a scientist working to decode and store human consciousness. The depiction of Ry and Victor’s sexual relationship explores elements of transgender life and ideas of transhumanism. As the book shifts in time, themes such as mechanical computers and cryogenic preservation are further developed.
VERDICT As the subtitle declares, this is a love story, paralleling the relationship between Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley and that between Ry and Victor. The forthright description of nonbinary choice forms a replete example of embracing transgender experience, and both Victor Stein and Victor Frankenstein are finally shown to be illusory characters, adding spookiness. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 3/25/19.]
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