Congratulations to Adam (S2) who has been declared the joint winner of Sheffield University’s Frankenstein Competition. Professor Wright, Professor of Romantic English at Sheffield University, commented about his short story that it was “a fantastic reimagining of Frankenstein; Mary Shelley’s original allusions to the death of the mother, are interwoven beautifully with a tale for the present day, of resurrecting the dead through the digital house. The story offered a different type of revenant, one that speaks to our contemporary anxieties”. Please find Adam’s story below:
By the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way through the shutters, I beheld the wretch – the miserable monster whom I had created. What had I done? What should I do? Where will it go? But forgive me for my questions, I must first explain what has led me to these terrible events.
My name is Frankie Stein and I am the daughter of two leading chemists. I have been obsessed with Science and Computing since my early childhood; when other girls were getting play sets for their birthdays, I was receiving ‘build your own robot’ kits or crystal-growing supplies. My particular area of interest was sparked at around the age of 12, when my mother decided to turn our draughty Victorian villa into a digital home. Suddenly we were able to use our voices to control lights and heating and even speakers. It was as if the building had come alive; it – she – would answer us back and be at our every bidding. Those old walls had had life breathed into them by microchips encased in small, plastic pods.
It was not long after that that my darling mother died. Without her, father and I were lost and drifted apart like two unanchored ships. I needed something to nurture us again. The digital voice that controlled our home wasn’t enough – but what if I could build it into a physical presence; something to occupy the empty chair where my mother once sat?
Remembering my old trash-can robots, I turned to the recycling bin. Rescuing the takeaway containers that we had been living off for weeks, I began cutting and cable-tying them together. I found some of my mother’s clothes and squeezed them onto the plastic epidermis. I sat the model on her chair and prepared to insert the digital pod. Pushing it between the overlapping plastic shell, I felt like I was performing open-heart surgery. I stood back and admired my handiwork – I could not wait to reveal it to my father.
It was time to ‘awaken the beast’.
“Okay Gisela” (for that was my mother’s name) “Where are you?”
“I am home” the female voice responded.
So far so good.
“Who am I?”
“You are my daughter, Frankie.”
This I was not expecting. It was as if the voice was my mother, rather than just a digital assistant hidden inside a model. The voice spoke again.
“Why can’t I see you properly? Where has my body gone?”
At this point I realised the terrible mistake I had made. In trying to replace my mother, I had somehow brought her back to life, but with knowledge that she was no longer properly alive. How could I be so cruel? However my dread was to get worse. The model – the monster! – stood and crashed towards the shuttered French windows.
Undeterred, she took a few steps into the garden, but then collapsed in a plastic heap. It was only later I realised that the Wi-Fi signal had reached its limit. My poor, poor mother was dead once again. And I was a pitiable fool for ever thinking that digital could replace love.