Jeanette Winterson is well-considered in the literary world, becoming renowned with her first, yes her first, book, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit. Having won several awards for her writing and gained a CBE, it was hardly surprising to realise her event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this year was a sell-out, and after her delivery, well, even more so.
What would Mary Shelley think of artificial intelligence? In her new novel, Frankissstein, Jeanette Winterson collapses the centuries, contrasting Shelley’s creation with a modern world where technology, sex, politics and money converge in a nightmarish future. Winterson has culminated an interesting novel, considering not only the future, but also the perceived notion that this is where we will end up. She argues that Shelley had preconceived notions and if we consider her work, Frankenstein, then its fair to say the links are blatant.
A pacey, dynamic and fresh event at the Edinburgh Book Festival, Winterson was without chair, and reading wildly from the new novel with what seemed like audience participation. It was, however, just the components of technology, enabling a more theatrical performance of her new works. It was bold, it felt innovative, and it opened the door for critque and discussion of AI, particularly a feminist stance on the vastly-concerning technology. Her urge is to get your daughters coding, not to be losing out in this world to come.
Frankissstein is an important work, as it considers AI and transgender culture, it highlights precisely what Winterson is alluding, Shelley was forward-thinking. Wonderfully-written and vivid in parts, the scene she reads from within the lecture hall when Victor delivers his AI presentation is a wonderful piece of prose, and delivered in such a way that you could imagine it within The New York Times Main Theatre. And if it is not obvious when sat in the jam-packed theatre, then the queue for signed books certainly more than hints at it. Her diligence for ensuring that all were signed and everyone was given her due time was admirable.
For more on the Edinburgh International Book Festival programme click here.