dear Mrs Shelley,
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.
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.
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.
an answer to the question of who I am is this: I am
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.
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.
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
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
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?"
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!
for now, dear Mary. Live in peace, but await my coming.
picture of Mary Godwin Shelley above was painted by
Richard Rothwell, c. 1840. It is in
the National Portrait Gallery, London, UK.