May 2, 2012

Frankenstein, pieced back together


Salon has posted Laura Miller’s review of a new interactive edition of Frankenstein, and it sounds like the app is well worth checking out. Released by Inkle Studios and Profile Books, it includes supplementary materials like period art and anatomical drawings and is written (or re-written) by Dave Morris.

A novelist who actually wrote some Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books for children, Morris moves the book’s setting to revolutionary France and shifts the narration to two present-tense threads, including a second-person account of the monster. While Morris modifies Mary Shelley’s original text (in fact nearly doubling the word count), Miller praises his take on the novel and the choices he presents to the reader.

Far from offering superficial options like “turn left or right,” Miller explains:

Morris presents the reader with choices I’ve not encountered in other interactive fictions. Is humanity mostly good, or mostly evil? Does the most recent development make you (the monster) feel hope or despair? Is the revolution the dawn of a brave new world or a descent into chaos and barbarity?…As a result of the reader’s choices, the characters seem more like him- or herself, with a concurrent ratcheting up of emotional investment. To my surprise, I found myself more moved by this adaptation of the Shelley novel than I have been by the source text.

In short, this new edition of Frankenstein looks like an interesting approach to interactive fiction, one that enhances the experience of reliving a classic book over and over again.

Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.