The five weirdest Frankenstein books ever

As Victor Frankenstein gets a sex change and heads for YouTube, here's our list of the strangest literary adaptations of the genre-launching 1818 horror novel. What have we missed?

1 Lives of the Monster Dogs by Kirsten Bakis

Kirsten Bakis, Lives of the Monster Dogs
Kirsten Bakis, Lives of the Monster Dogs Photograph: Public Domain

Shortlisted for the Orange prize for fiction, this debut sees a 19th-century mad scientist, Augustus Rank, create an army of monster "dog soldiers" – Pinschers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds and Dobermans – who walk upright and speak, wearing old-fashioned military jackets and spectacles. In 2008, the dogs move to New York City. It is, wrote the New York Times, "a dazzling, unforgettable meditation on what it means to be human".

2 Frankenstein Unbound by Brian Aldiss

Brian W. Aldiss, Frankenstein Unbound
Brian W. Aldiss, Frankenstein Unbound Photograph: Public Domain

Science-fiction legend Aldiss sends a time traveller, Joe Bodenland, back from 21st-century America to the shores of Lake Geneva, where he meets Frankenstein and his monster – as well as Mary Shelley, Byron and the rest. Mary and Joe make love, a plot development which moved Aldiss to explain: "This is what authors do when they are half in love with a female character. They call it sublimation. Bodenland, c'est moi!"

3 Brittle Innings by Michael Bishop

Michael Bishop, Brittle Innings
Michael Bishop, Brittle Innings Photograph: Public Domain

What is the original Frankenstein missing? Baseball, that's what. It's 1943, and 17-year-old Danny Boles is a shortstop from Oklahoma whose new roommate, one slyly-named Henry "Jumbo" Clerval, is 7ft tall, with a strange, scarred face and yellow eyes, and the ability to hit "monster" home runs. Frankenstein meets Field of Dreams, says Publishers Weekly.

4 The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd

Peter Ackroyd, The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein
Peter Ackroyd, The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein Photograph: Public Domain

Here Ackroyd has Victor Frankenstein become friends with Percy Shelley, before his experiments resurrect the dead – a monster named Jack Keat whose first move is to begin masturbating.

5 Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson

Jackson's acclaimed hypertext tale imagines that Mary Shelley herself completes the monster, that the monster is a female, and that it falls in love with its creator before travelling to America. "You can resurrect me, but only piecemeal," Jackson's monster tells her readers. "If you want to see the whole, you will have to sew me together yourself. (In time you may find appended a pattern and instructions – for now, you will have to put it together any which way, as the scientist Frankenstein was forced to do.) Like him, you will make use of a machine of mysterious complexity to animate these parts."

• What have we missed? Let us know in the comments below


Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

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