Frankissstein: A Love Story

Frankissstein: A Love Story From One Of The Most Gifted Writers Working Today New York Times Comes An Audacious New Novel About The Bodies We Live In And The Bodies We Desire In Brexit Britain, A Young Transgender Doctor Called Ry Is Falling In Love Against Their Better Judgement With Victor Stein, A Celebrated Professor Leading The Public Debate Around AIMeanwhile, Ron Lord, Just Divorced And Living With Mum Again, Is Set To Make His Fortune Launching A New Generation Of Sex Dolls For Lonely Men EverywhereAcross The Atlantic, In Phoenix, Arizona, A Cryogenics Facility Houses Dozens Of Bodies Of Men And Women Who Are Medically And Legally Dead But Waiting To Return To LifeBut The Scene Is Set In , When Nineteen Year Old Mary Shelley Writes A Story About Creating A Non Biological Life FormBeware, For I Am Fearless And Therefore Powerful What Will Happen When Homo Sapiens Is No Longer The Smartest Being On The Planet Jeanette Winterson Shows Us How Much Closer We Are To That Future Than We Realise Funny And Furious, Bold And Clear Sighted, Frankissstein Is A Love Story About Life Itself

Novelist Jeanette Winterson was born in Manchester, England in 1959 She was adopted and brought up in Accrington, Lancashire, in the north of England Her strict Pentecostal Evangelist upbringing provides the background to her acclaimed first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, published in 1985 She graduated from St Catherine s College, Oxford, and moved to London where she worked as an assi

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  • ebook
  • Frankissstein: A Love Story
  • Jeanette Winterson
  • English
  • 08 June 2019
  • 9781473563254

10 thoughts on “Frankissstein: A Love Story

  1. says:

    Delighted to see this on the Booker Longlist A breathtakingly brilliant re interpretation of Mary Shelley s Frankenstein for our modern age of troubled political turbulence, so incredibly funny, smart, philosophical and satirical, weaving threads from the past, present and the impact of AI developments in the future Jeanette Winterson has pulled off a scintillating and incisive retelling of the classic novel that posits that homo sapiens is far from the most intelligent force on earth, and provides irrefutable evidence, such as the examples of Trump and Bolsonaro, our modern day monsters of destruction It asks what is reality, where all that is solid melts into air, what exactly is human consciousness, asking and re defining what it is to be human, and whether we can transcend our time limited biological bodies to attain and embrace a AI immortality that will make gods of humans Gender fluidity, roles and expectations of women through the ages, sexism, and misogyny are explored through the various characters, such as Byron, Mary Shelley and the genius creation that is the bold and brash sexbot salesman and entrepreneur, Ron Lord, operating in a Brexit world Lord is a divorced man, living with his mother in Wales, creating and developing a male utopia with his female sexbots that never say no to a man, bots that do not give rise to the problems men face with real life emancipated women Ron Lord is a messiah of our disturbing world, claiming to solve issues of rape, assault and abuse everywhere, even within religion and the church Dr Ry Shelley is transgender, having shifted reality to be who he wants to be, and in love with the famous Dr Victor Stein In Phoenix, Arizona, humanity is preparing to rise from the ashes through the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, where the legally and medically dead are waiting to return to life The novel travels through bedlam, life, death, the Lazarus resurrection, history, gender, class and inequality, our contemporary monsters running rampant, and with illuminating potential future AI realities There are so many ideas and concepts in this fascinating and highly imaginative narrative that takes Shelley s Frankenstein and spins a philosophical and relevant feminist fable for our times that is simultaneously completely hilarious and thought provoking Winterson is a gifted writer, and this novel is sheer magnificence, from beginning to end A true gem, I particularly adored the character of Ron Lord A highly recommended and sublime read Many thanks to Random House Vintage for an ARC

  2. says:

    Frankenstein reanimatedPart fictionalised life story of Mary Shelley, part bonkers mad scientist caper set in the five minutes from now future, Frankissstein is riotously funny, philosophically rich, and one of a kind.Lake Geneva, 1816 18 year old Mary Shelley, her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, John Polidori and Clair Clairmont are holed up during a storm They pass the time with ghost stories and talk of galvanism, consciousness, and loom smashing Luddites, as Shelley begins writing her famous Frankenstein We then follow Shelley s life in pensive, beautifully drawn chapters that would make for a stunning historical fiction novel on their own.The future now Transgender, non binary doctor Ry Shelley, charismatic scientist Victor Stein, sexbot magnate Ron Lord Lord By Ron, get it , journalist Polly D and religious evangelist Claire are caught up in a madcap plot involving cryonics and stolen body parts It s a dizzying ride, with some characters prone to crude sex jokes while others are likely to lapse into philosophical debates on transhumanism Novels that employ humour will always be hit or miss, particularly when the gags are as ribald and dorky as they are here Whether or not it happens to tickle your funny bone will probably be the difference between finding Frankissstein enormous fun or just silly.Winterson shrewdly draws the parallels between Mary Shelley s time and our own the disruption of the Industrial Revolution equating with today s anxieties over automation the potential for AI to actualise what Shelley envisaged autonomous, thinking artificial life Cryonics also features in the plot but isn t afforded much seriousness To me that makes sense, because right now it s the AI that really frightens us our 21st century monsters are stitched together from zeroes and ones Clever, funny and than a little nutty, Frankissstein is hugely entertaining and just right for right now 4.5 stars.

  3. says:

    Have you ever read a book where you have to keep re reading paragraphs or even entire pages not because your mind drifted and you don t know what you just read, but because you do know what you read and it delighted you so much I haven t come across many writers who do that for me Jeanette Winterson is an exception and Frankissstein is one of those books Reading this book gave my brain a fantastic jolt on just about every page, a flood of dopamine and serotonin repeatedly washed through my brain The sheer exquisiteness of the prose, the ingenious metaphors, and the philosophical aspects of the story delighted me immensely.This is the story of Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein It is the story of Ry Shelley, a transgender doctor living in the present day It is the story of Lord Byron, Ron Lord, Dr Polidori, Polly D, Victor Frankenstein and Victor Stein, a scientist developing AI Jeanette Winterson takes us on a journey to the past and into the future, masterfully weaving the stories of all these individuals, intertwining their lives and their thoughts and their souls It is profound and it is funny It is philosophical It asks us to reflect on many questions What is intelligence and what is life Are we our bodies or are we just souls inhabiting physical matter If we upload a human brain into a machine, would it be human or would it be machine What, if anything, sets humans apart from other living beings If we succeed in creating true AI, how will it feel about being created to serve us or about living amongst us I mention that Ry is transgender because Ms Winterson uses this story to show that gender is than just the body we inhabit and that we humans are far complex than our genders and any labels that are slapped upon us or even given to us by ourselves Labels are helpful in navigating the world, but no person can fully inhabit any category We transcend our labels.Ron Lord is perhaps the funniest character I ve come across in a Jeanette Winterson book He is a sexbot salesman, quite misogynistic, and unable to accept Ry as he is Claire the counterpart to Mary Shelley s step sister is an evangelical Christian who is at first against the idea of sexbots though later convinces Ron to create and sell bots for Jesus as well, Christian companions for the devout I laughed many times reading the dialogue of these two characters, full out feel good belly laughs Ms Winterson throws in a few Trump jabs too, which is always appreciated for helping survive the current political madness Fans of Jeanette Winterson, lovers of speculative fiction, those who delight in word play all will love this newest gem from Jeanette Winterson In my opinion, it is her greatest work thus far Many thanks to Jeanette Winterson, Grove Press, and Edelweiss for providing me with a free digital review copy This in no way influenced my review.Publication date October 2019

  4. says:

    Now Nominated for the Booker Prize 2019This novel is Winterson s monster Pieced together from the history of Mary Shelley writing the classic Frankenstein, the plot of aforementioned classic and a new storyline focusing on artificial intelligence, Winterson has unevenly sewn together different components and brought them to life well, at least partly The author is a God like figure in her own narrative universe, so you could argue that Winterson is also a modern Prometheus which is the subtitle of Frankenstein In order to explore the human urge to create life and submit nature versus the longing to be seen and loved as an imperfect, but unique person, Winterson jumps around between timelines and personnel, juxtaposing, mirroring and paralleling different ideas and even characters.The first narrative thread tells the story of author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, who fell in love and ran away with Percy Bysshe Shelley She crafted the outline for Frankenstein at Lake Geneva, where the couple stayed with Lord Byron, his doctor Polidori, and Mary s stepsister Claire Clairmont who was pregnant from Byron Mary herself lost many children, which is interesting considering that she wrote a classic about the artificial creation of life Winterson intersperses her whole narrative with bits and pieces from Mary Shelley s life, especially those connected to the writing of Frankenstein Many of the aspects she presents are highly contested though, e.g the connection to the actual Castle Frankenstein in Germany or that Shelley was inspired by conversations she had with her husband and Byron about Darwin and galvanization in this book, real life is fiction, too Then, there are of course quotes and themes taken from the story of Dr Victor Frankenstein, and readers should keep in mind that the monster starts out as a good character and is then driven to become a criminal because of his loneliness and desperation In the third narrative thread, we meet all kinds of characters who mirror the other two interwoven stories There is Victor Stein, a scientist who aims to abolish death by preserving human minds there is Ry, a transgender doctor Ry is derived from Mary , who falls in love with Stein we meet Claire who employs argumentative tricks to merge the belief in God with financially profiting from AI and Polly which, especially in 19th century New England, was a nickname for Mary , a journalist trying to portray Stein and then we have Ron Lord, a sleezy guy selling AI sexbots Ronald derives from R gnvaldr, meaning the one who holds the power of the Gods , and his last name alludes to both God and Byron As you probably assume, there is a myriad of connections here, but the main juxtaposition is that of Ron, who uses AI for financial gain with all the implications that has regarding the degradation of women, and Victor Stein, who is less interested in money, and in playing God Yes, this monster of a book has many tiny parts and many characters, it is often funny and just as often stuck in theoretical and philosophical elaborations played out in dialogue, and Winterson is very much in love with her own creation While the whole book is filled to the brim with smart ideas and offers a daring composition, I have to admit that the patchiness of the whole thing frequently annoyed me, that some parts seemed repetitive and that a certain smugness that lingers over this text did not really help either look what I can do and this and this yeah, calm down, Winterson Still, this is a smart, experimental book that dares to go places, written by a highly intelligent author who loves to be bold and play Dr Frankenstein and isn t this what we want from a writer

  5. says:

    What an unexpected mid winter highlight After casting aside all my should be reading books I decided to bust my way out of a reading slump by picking up this new book by Jeanette Winterson an author I have never read This was a particularly risky undertaking given my recent tussle with another author who also decided to play with robots I am not saying that book spectacularly failed but it wasn t great.Winterson s novel is a delightful treat for readers who have ever wondered about the potential for sexbots to take over the world I don t think I have ever laughed for the entirety of two straight chapters before, but good Lord Ron Lord I am making this book sound like a comedy but it isn t It is just that Winterson does humorously salacious excruciatingly well Frankisstein is such an orgy of ideas In no particular order it is an homage to Frankenstein, a thought experiment on what it means to be human and or post human A primer on cryopreservation, a lovely recognition of female scientists yes Rosalind Franklin and your valuable contribution to discovering DNA a biography of the Shelleys, and a novel with a central transgender character Opinions may vary on if this all works together, for me it did I accepted this novel as a very interesting kind of philosophising on our technological future But it also struck me as a novel that is asking some serious questions about misogyny, past, present and future Being a new reader to Winterson I was delighted to find her style shares similarities with other authors I enjoy She has Margaret Atwood s humour and eye for gender politics and than a touch of Ali Smith s skill in her wry observations of current events Fascinating book and surely a highlight of my reading year If only Winterson and McEwan could get together to solve the enigma of robotic thrust, perhaps Ian could share his sketches for the distilled water gadget his robots have

  6. says:

    Now re read, and with additional detail in my review, following its longlisting for the 2019 Booker Prize I am what I am But what I am is not one thing, not one gender I live with doubleness What is your substance, whereof you are made,That millions of strange shadows on you tend The book takes place in two timelines The first starts in 1816 in the rainy mid year months in Geneva a bored group of Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, her then lover and future husband Percy Shelley, Mary s stepsister Claire Clairmont Byron s lover and Byron s doctor Polidori, agree on a challenge to write a ghost story the famous genesis of Mary s novel Frankenstein As an aside, given this is a book where the author seems unable to see a parallel without cramming into the already overladen plot, I was surprised that some modern day climate change link was not drawn with the volcanic eruption induced year without a summer of 1816 The second is in Modern day Brexit UK and Trumpian US and Bolsanaron Brazil A unlikely group Ron Lord an increasingly successful producer of sexbots , Ma Ry an Shelley a young transgender doctor , Clare a Christian working almost underground as the PA to the owner of a cryonics facility, Polly Dory a Vanity Fair journalist coalesce around Victor Stein Stein is an artificial intelligence visionary who is turning his TED talks into practice by reanimating human limbs and even heads as an interim stage towards advancing cryonics into the downloading of human minds Ron is interested in investing and in seeing if there is an angle for his sexbots, Polly in getting an interview and scoop, Claire in ensuring a Christian angle to the various projects, Ry as his lover and also supplier of body parts.The two stories progress in parallel with Mary and Ry as their main first party narrators The older story starts as a relatively straight retelling of the genesis of the novel, going over well trodden ground albeit with sympathy and insight Winterson is keen to draw out the influences on Shelley s conception of her novel and her subsequent thinking Artisitic for example Ovid s Pygmalion, Shakespeare s Hermione and Hobbes Leviathan Political the machine breakers and the Peterloo riots Personal the loss of her children and later her husband Some of the unattributed quotes she uses though are from later writers TS Eliot, Wilfred Owen, Gertrude Stein hinting at some form of fluidity of time Best of all is a quote from Jeannette Winterson And it is perhaps appropriate that a writer who famously voted for herself as the greatest living writer and nominated her own book for a Book of the year feature places herself among such giants Parallels are also drawn with the ideas that are explored in the modern storyline Pygmalion s statue has a double transformation from lifeless to life and from male to female Thinking on artificial life she muses Is there such a thing as artificial intelligence Clockwork has no thoughts What is the spark of the mind Could it be made Made by us That modern story starts as a mix of exposition heavy dialogue not entirely absent from the first section where for example the Peterloo riots are explained by way of a clumsy dialogue between the Shelley s over a newspaper article Victor Stein in particular channels his inner TED talk to muse on various developments and ideas in artificial intelligence characters which could be lifted from a Dan Brown novel Victor Stein in particular, a sexually magnetic, loft dwelling professor an exploration of the world of sexbots delivered largely by the outrageously politically incorrect Ron which sometimes tips over the border from humour into prurience.To be fair to Winterson she very consciously either signals or later acknowledges her intents here Victor is introduced as having a huge TED following much later and well after I had written down the Dan Brown comparison in my notes we are told Don t believe everything you read in Dan Brown Ry observes at one point when Ron is in full flow demonstrating his own first sexbot rather also named Claire Some of the boys are enjoying this I can tell from the rise in their jeans.As Stein says to Ry twice The future always brings something from the past and there are numerous echoes of the historic storyline in the modern storyline Over time both plot lines evolve The past story rather cleverly as in a series of parts narrated by the Director of the Bedlam lunatic asylum, Mary meets her own creation, as Victor Frankenstein is deposited at the hospital by Captain Walton The modern story turning again very consciously and explicitly signalled by Winterson into an episode of Dr Who The room had the look of a bad set from an early episode of Doctor Who drawing also on schlock horror B movie Frankenstein remakes in the nuclear war tunnels under Manchester as Victor Stein tries to bring an old friend s head back to life.One of the key themes of the book is the potential future development of artificial intelligence and human machine interfaces and hybrids Winterson explores what that future might look like will it be designed by misogynistic geeks, will it be for the benefit of the rootless diaspora of the rich and privileged, or likely will man in fact have no choice in how the future plays out once a singularity is passed Winterson identifies how the future of AI and of mind and body separation actually goes back to ancient views that underlie almost every religion which all tell the same story in one form or another the earth is fallen, reality is an illusion, our souls will live forever Our bodies are a front or perhaps accurately, an affront, to the beauty of our nature as beings of light Rather controversially or is that boldly Or inappropratiely Winterson chooses to link this theme, via the concept of duality and blurring of boundaries and in choosing to remake your body into the form that your mind wishes it to be to transgenderism.And overall it is the theme of duality doubleness blurring that as well as giving the book its structure gives it its recurring theme male and female, mind and body, human and machine, Frankenstein and his monster, an author and their work, life and death, consciousness and body, citizens of somewhere and citizens of nowhere, nationalism and globalisation, ideas and actions And perhaps most importantly the duality between the past and present and the fluidity of movement between the two Winterson signals that the real story lies at their intersection My story is circular It has a beginning It has a middle It has an end Yet it does not run as a Roman road from a journey s start unto its destination I am, at present, uncertain of the destination I am sure that the meaning if there is one, lies in the centre. But the book is subtitled A Love Story and it can be seen as that The historical part is in many parts an examination of the marriage of the Shelley s and the modern part focuses on the intense relationship between Ry and Stein Many other relationships are bought in as analogies M and James Bond Salome and John The Baptist King Kong and Fay Wray Pygmalion and Ovid Leontes and Hermione Conrad Dippel owner of The original Castle Frankenstein and his wife Epimetheus and Pandora Superman and Lois Lane 0 and 1 And further we realise that this may not just be two relationships but one When Stein first meets Ry we read this exchange Have we met And the strange, split second other world answer is yes When Shelley discussed death of a loved one with Mary he asks Who does not hold the body in her arms, frantic to bestow heat and reanimate the corpse and we start to see that perhaps Mary partly recast Shelley in the form of her literary creation Frankenstein who she meets again at a party at the close of the historical section Mary Shelley ending up in love with her own literary creation and that relationship reappearing in the modern day There are passages of time that tell like text than time, when we sense a story we repeat, or a story that is told The teller or the tale I don t knowWe are many, he said Many Shelleys, many Mary s many stand behind us tonight in spirit, and we shall do the same when we are done here This is my first book by Jeanette Winterson and it is certainly an interesting and entertaining one while not always entirely successful At times it s hard not to have the impression that Winterson is also in love with her own literary creation Of course some of the themes in particular man and machine, artificial intelligence, Turing are exactly those examined in Ian McEwan s Machines Like Me and while this is a much better book, my overall conclusion is the same If you are looking for challenging literature, and for a real examination of these topics, then look no further than the joint winner of the 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize now going on to sweep other award nominations Will Eaves Murmur..

  7. says:

    I wasn t sure what to expect from this title as I have never read the classic Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, however it made little difference to the fun I had in reading this retelling of sorts.Mostly it s about Mary Shelley and her sad back story of children lost to disease in her short relationship with her husband Percy, and also about the writing of the story of her monster Frankenstein and then it flips to our modern day search for eternal or extended life Most of the modern characters are quirky and the story focuses upon the trans lead character Ry, their own past and struggles with the present as those around them seek to build a better world, irrespective of the morality of their endeavours It s a hodgepodge of ideas and I don t claim to have understood them all but I have certainly thought a lot about the future and where we are headed The way that Winterson brings everything together is enlightening, sad and incredibly funny.With thanks to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.

  8. says:

    To me, this book is an example of fictional instrumentalism in action fiction written for the purpose of teaching the reader, as opposed to fiction as art While on some level all fiction is imbued with meaning, some writing is blunt in its messaging and as a result, less effective in my opinion.Told in two parallel narratives, the story follows Mary Shelley in the 19th century as she grapples with the genesis of Frankenstein, as well as Ry Shelley in the present day, a trans doctor involved with characters at the forefront of AI research As expected, both narratives mirror each other thematically.While the historical narrative is a lyrical nod to the Victorian Gothic tradition, the present day narrative is a hot mess, buried under the weight of Winterson s research We get frequent brain dumps on the topics Winterson wishes us to examine from artificial intelligence to sex bots to machine learning to transhumanism narrated by characters who are mere talking props The trans protagonist, particularly, is a non character whose obligatory public bathroom assault scene is so tangential to the story and so fleetingly handled that it does a disservice to the issues raised In Winterson s hands, the lesson value of a scene takes precedence over character development and plot coherence.The result is a lumbering beast of a novel, bursting at the seams of its thematic ambition, yet frequently stumbling over its own limbs.Mood Chaotic and didacticRating 6 10Also on Instagram.

  9. says:

    As soon as I heard about this book I knew I would love it, and I can now safely say that that was an understatement Frankenstein is my favourite novel of all time and Mary Shelley is one of my personal heroes, so to have an author as talented as Jeanette Winterson take on a homage retelling whatever you want to call it of both the novel and Shelley s own life was truly a dream come true This novel is half a fictionalised but seemingly accurate, once you ve read a bit about her life and character account of Mary Shelley s experiences conceiving and writing Frankenstein, full of insight into what being stuck in a house with the Young Romantics must have felt like The other half is set in the present day where the transmasculine main character, Dr Ry Shelley, is exploring the world of AI and robotics alongside the genius scientist Victor Stein They are surrounded by a cast of other characters who bear connections to the people around Mary Shelley in the other half of the novel The two halves switch chapter by chapter The modern sections are where Winterson gets to play around with the complex sciences and pseudosciences of cryogenics, artificial intelligence, computing, sex robots, you name it This half involves some of the most fascinating and exciting parts of the novel, while the other half contains some of the beautiful sections of prose and is a really intimate look at an extraordinary woman Both parts compliment each other really well, especially when you contrast the experiences of Mary as a young woman in the early 19th century and Ry as a trans man in a notably transphobic and misogynistic world emphasis on the sex robotics here I got the impression that Ry s relationship with gender and experiences as a trans man were really thoughtfully written, but as I read this novel as a cis person I would love to hear what trans readers make of his character Also, warning that there are transphobic moments as mentioned earlier and one instance of transphobic violence pg 241 244 in the hardback which you may want to watch out for.I know my own enjoyment was heightened by my love for Frankenstein and its author, but you should be able to enjoy Frankissstein even if you aren t already familiar with the original The novel raises a lot of complex and interesting questions about humanity and our future, which many other authors such as Ian McEwan are currently trying to grapple with, but as always Jeanette Winterson brings her extraordinary talent along to make this a must read for 2019.

  10. says:

    I m ashamed to admit I ve only read one Jeanette Winterson book Lighthousekeeping But it was wonderful, so I m excited to try this one out, looks like loads of interesting topics.

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