If the premise for Frankissstein, combine the story of Frankenstein with AI, was not enough to hook your interest in to Jeanette Winterson’s most recent offereing, then her Edinburgh Book Festival was a sure fire winner, dynamic and theatrical in its precision. Addressing Artificial Intelligence in Brexit Britain, Winterson’s newest work feels fresh and sees her retain her post as a gifted writer with enthusiasm and flair. An affecting read, it will be difficult to explore this novel without notions, feelings, laughter and thoughts of your own.
Frankissstein revolves around a young transgender doctor called Ry, who is falling in love – against their better judgement – with Victor Stein, a celebrated professor leading the public debate around AI. Meanwhile, 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 everywhere, rolling out the ideas of AI in a specialist type of format.
Across 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 life. But the scene is set in 1816, when nineteen-year-old Mary Shelley writes a story about creating a non-biological life-form. ‘Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful.’
With the modern and the aged sitting side by side in this novel, with an overlap in names, Winterson succinctly blurs the lines between the world of Mary Shelley, Lord Byron and Ada Lovelace with that or Dr Ry Shelley, Victor Stein and Ron Lord, imposing thought on the minds of the past and how that relates to our forthcoming technological future.
With many vivid and hilarious scenes throughout the novel, thinking mostly of the lecture in which a malfunctioning sexbot makes an appearance at a lecture about AI, Jeanette Winterson retains the readers interest throughout the entirety of the novel. With her characters, Ron Lord and Victor Stein at the centre of this AI world, Winterson also issues a word of warning about those that will deliver AI, not just the arrogant scientist but also the lonely misogynist. The narrator and protagonist Ry Shelley, acts in a similar manner to Mary Shelley, with no role but to deliver the story, observing the developments.
A wonderfully thought-provoking novel on themes of gender, sexuality, liberty of oneself and technological advancements and ideas, Frankissstein is an in-depth exploration into the world of AI, which will encourage you to do as she suggests in her book festival event, “get your daughters coding!”
Frankissstein is available now, published by Jonathan Cape.