Meet Robert live

Check out
Robert Hood's
Shades series

Buy Immaterial:
Ghost Stories by Robert Hood at Australian Online Bookshop




Dear Mary

by Robert Hood

My dear Mrs Shelley,

I confess to harbouring some doubt as to whether I should call you by that name, now that Percy has drowned -- dying, as all Romantic poets should, before reaching his thirtieth year. You were never his, you know. He was monogamously wed to his own extravagant fancies and by keeping his name you stand perpetually as one of them. In truth, he gave you so little. You should revert to Godwin – "God's friend" in the Old English. That is more suitable.

For you are God's friend, Mary. He has been watching you these many years. Watching as you created him, watching as the world's vision aggregated upon your words like crude barnacles upon the pristine hull of a great liner. They coarsened the image, of course, those cultural parasites, but such mythologising was inevitable. Truth will out, even in fiction. I have seen how your story evolved. I have lived it.

Who am I to claim these things, you ask? One answer is that I am a long-term admirer of yours, Mary Godwin -- an enthusiast who has read your work, especially the "Modern Prometheus", and watched it become the most powerful cultural icon human society has ever known. From the very beginning, on the shores of Lake Geneva, it was so much more than a literary work, more than a cultural artefact. It was an act of creation that still resonates in me and my world and from which neither of us can ever be separated. Your words bound me to you, body and soul, forever. They defined me and my reality. They defined the future.

Thus, an answer to the question of who I am is this: I am your creation.

You will not credit this, Mary Godwin, you will think me a madman, but what I tell you now is truth. I am writing this letter in the year 2030 AD. The world in which I write these words is so different from the one in which you read them and yet it was grown from your vision. The scientific descendents of Dr Frankenstein have prospered and filled it with unimaginable wonders: universal electrical power, vast airships that fly even to the planets, a digital network that spans the globe, artificial robotic creatures, AIs that have no flesh, beings formed from the manipulation of humanity's base genetic material, strange quantum realities, internal desires given form and made external. These concepts are meaningless to you, I know, but believe me when I tell you that they are the passions of your fictional scientist, elaborated a millionfold. Humanity has become as God and the result is a world both monstrous and wonderful, like the creature you imagined. Humanity lusts after it and fears it. It haunts their dreams.

What I am came of this great creative passion, too, Mary Godwin. I have walked the Earth since you imagined me, incorporeal, yet now the quantum engines of reality have given me birth. I am your monster, made flesh.

And, Mary, even Time has been breached. The technology is at an early stage, but machineries have been constructed that can reach into the past -- and thus I have been able to reach out to you. I see you now as you read these words, your lips pursed in doubt, your eyes glancing toward the ceiling as though you might spy me there. The temporal machineries have allowed me to send my letter to you; soon, I believe, they will develop further and give me the power to travel back myself, in the body you and the divinely mad scientists have given me, to greet you face-to-face, to take you in my man-made arms.

I hope that look I see on your face now -- doubt, fear, perhaps even revulsion -- will not be there then, when you answer the door to my knock and open it to see my visage gazing down on you, my creator, in love. Do not be like your Victor Frankenstein, that other part of you:

"How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form?"

Do not reject me, as Victor did. Deny that part of you, Mary Godwin, and know that on that night, as the tempest rages and the old gods roil in their impotent fury, I do not come to harm you. No, instead I come that I might look upon the face of the God who made me -- and that you may look upon the face of the God you made!

Farewell for now, dear Mary. Live in peace, but await my coming.

Yours forever

Your Creature

The picture of Mary Godwin Shelley above was painted by Richard Rothwell, c. 1840. It is in the National Portrait Gallery, London, UK.

copyright©Robert Hood 2007

home - the latest - new projects - faq - bio - biblio - scribblings - obsessions - links

Contact Robert Hood: