Jeanette Winterson does not read her work, she performs it. During this sell out event the acclaimed writer, script in hand, performs dramatic sections of her new novel Frankissstein. The novel has been long listed for the Booker Prize and draws parallels with Mary Shelley’s classic novel as well as modern day scientific experiments with artificial intelligence, automation and robotics.
Winterston begins with a quotation from the Edinburgh Magazine 1818 and an anonymous review of Frankenstein from a critic (who she informs us actually turns out to be Walter Scott). Here she sets the scene and then gives a preformative reading that takes us back to 1816 with Mary Shelly, Percy Bysshe Shelly and Lord Byron at Lake Geneva. Winterson also gives a potted history of Mary Shelley’s upbringing and puts forward an argument that she was inspired to create her novel by her socialist father.
The author delves further into Frankissstein and a performs a section set in the near future, where artificially intelligent sex dolls are common place. The scene takes place at a conference and the reading is accompanied by sound effects (applause and questions from the audience are played over loud speakers) and PowerPoint slides (projected to the back of the stage) and this adds to the theatricality of the event. Winterston lets known her belief that: “Sex dolls will soon be the norm and fill a relationship gap for some people. All be it filling this gap with silicone.” She paints a bleak picture with ignorant scientists and ill-informed commentators expressing options on automation and the future of the human race.
The writer concludes the event by stating the need for women to learn how to code and get involved in IT. Winterston notes that the future will be entirely digital and there is a lack of female coders. She stresses a necessity for female representation in the digital industries and looks to inspire a call to action for all women to learn new skills in order to have a voice.