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Author Topic: EP246: The Bride of Frankenstein  (Read 13913 times)
DKT
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« on: June 24, 2010, 10:49:04 AM »

EP246: The Bride of Frankenstein

By Mike Resnick

Read by Julie Davis

Originally published in: Asimov’sDownload and read the text

Guest Host: Alasdair Stuart of Pseudopod

Victor can be so annoying. He constantly whistles this tuneless song, and when I complain he apologizes and then starts humming it instead. He never stands up to that ill-mannered little hunchback that he’s always sending out on errands. And he’s a coward. He can never just come to me and say “I need money again.” Oh, no, not Victor. Instead he sends that ugly little toady who’s rude to me and always smells like he hasn’t washed.

And when I ask what the money’s for this time, he tells me to ask Victor, and Victor just mumbles and stammers and never gets around to answering.


Rated PG: for spousal annoyances
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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2010, 11:21:55 AM »

Initially I thought this story would have been better if it wasn’t about the cinematic Frankenstein but “a Frankenstein.” The whole motif is dull to me. I would rather see some rich gal marry a mad scientist; they live out on some ranch in the middle of Utah or something, where he conducts his experiments to reanimate dead matter and go from there.

Also due to the characterization of the wife (maybe by the reader) I couldn’t help but think about the wife in “Young Frankenstein.” By the end of the story, however, I forgot about my initial misgivings. The arc of the Baroness’ acceptance of her life, her station, and the creature, is well executed, and this was the theme of the story—far outweighing my hang-ups about place.  It was altogether, a solid story.
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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2010, 11:37:56 AM »

It was fun hearing Mr. Resnick read this live. (if I'd been a little quicker I could have nabbed a signed manuscript of it, but I was beat out for it. Instead I got one of a story I actually liked a bit better).

I liked it, but again, I don't peg it to take home the award.
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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2010, 12:29:37 PM »

Maybe I was preoccupied with other things and missed something, but this one just missed the mark. It started off sounding a bit tired as the Frankenstein story has been done so many times and in so many different ways. Maybe I never got much past that or maybe it didn't but the narrator's change of heart felt too abrupt as there was little hint as to her change of heart - mostly it felt as if it was me thinking you can't possibly really be like this, can you? or you are unrealistically conceited. Maybe it was this that led me to see her as a one-dimensional character? I don't know, but didn't connect for me.
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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2010, 03:42:21 PM »

I have to hand it to Resnick on this one. I didn't see where this was going or what the ultimate denouement would be and so the suspense lingered throughout the entire narrative, and which I greatly appreciated.

I sort of agree with Bumdhar's comments but I would respond that Frankenstein and other classic tropes are used oftentimes by authors because nearly everyone has a "mental landscape" of the principal characters and the universe they inhabit. Just like the way we use scripts for common or repetitive tasks in programming.

This one I could see winning a Hugo because of the optimistic theme, tension and suspense which will all please a lot of readers/listeners, because in the end the Hugo is pretty much a popularity contest.
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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2010, 12:08:51 AM »

I'm pretty sure the Wall Street Journal mention was a shout-out to Young Frankenstein, since that's what the monster was reading in the final scene of the movie.  There were probably some other movie references that whizzed right by me.
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« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2010, 08:38:38 AM »

Another Hugo lukewarm response for me.  I didn't hate it, didn't love it.  Frankenstein is well-trodden ground, so it's hard to come up with anything that feels new, and I just don't think this pulled it off.  And while I liked the reader's voice, I think she could've made her voice change as the character changed.  She made the character sound apathetic even when the text suggested she was supposed to be sympathetic--the tone worked perfectly in the beginning when the character was completely narcissistic, but as she gained an affection for the other characters, I think the tone could've softened (at least within those moments of sympathy) to enhance the story.
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« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2010, 07:04:30 PM »

It sounds like my opinion is mirrored in a lot of other readers. The story was good, but it wasn't great. Sure, the sarcastic and world-weary Baroness was interesting and the ending made me smile, but the story didn't make me go "woah" the way a Hugo award winner should.
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« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2010, 08:28:10 PM »

Resnick, Resnick, Resnick - really, what's there left to be said about his stories that hasn't already been said? And been said on Escape Pod? This one gets a thumb, maybe a thumb and a half up from me - taking on the Frankenstein story and making it your own is no easy task.

But the reason I am commenting is the outtro - bravo Alisdair, you managed to capture something often found in the better intros and outtros from Steve - an observation on life that was both personal and related to the story, but much more than just a recap, interpretation, or thought evoked by the story. Rather, an outtro that showed how the story mattered to you, and to us all...
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« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2010, 07:44:13 AM »

Oh dear! This is the second Hugo nominee to underwhelm me but this time it looks as though I'm not entirely alone. I found this derivative, psychologically shallow, predictable, and almost fanzine-like in its dependence on a well known and multiply told tale. The characters, for me, were undercooked and stereotypical so that the only surprise would have been if each had retained their archetypal profiles right the way to the end. Much more satisfying if the Baroness had shown herself to be the sociopathic manipulator she was set up to reflect, or the 'monster' degenerates in tragic emotional self discovery and loss and dies in misery with neither Baron nor Baroness caring much about it. Why would I care? Because they would be following the rules of form and function. Bad science leads to unethical practice. Relationships built on self interest are generally cold and lacking in empathy. And the meek don't usually inherit the earth so the monster becomes a tragic figure, restored only to discover love and then find he is unloved.
And by the way, he already had a brain so why did he not have any memories or evidence of prior learning? Humph!
Very nice writing though, from a purely linguistic perspective, and nicely narrated.
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« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2010, 08:08:36 AM »

Nice to see some character development for a change. And surprising. I kept on expecting the Baroness to end up dead and the bride or just dead and deserving her fate. Instead I was surprised when she grew as a person and became a better human being. I agree that it would have helped if her voice had taken on a more sympathetic tone as she changed.

Nice to hear Alasdair Stuart as the host.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2010, 08:16:40 AM by alllie » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2010, 07:20:34 PM »

this year's hugo reception on ep also seems to be suffering from high expectations.  so far none of the stories have really wowed me but there have been stories i liked much less in previous years.

this was a solid story in many ways and under other circumstances i would have enjoyed it thoroughly.  but, as Resnick's hugo nominee, it fell a little short of expectation.
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« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2010, 08:00:47 PM »

I loved this story.

As said previously, its not easy to take Frankenstein and do something different with it.  Let along make the monster overall improve the good doctors life, and those around him. 

The way I took this story, all the rest of the story as many peopel know it happened; if not exactly how they happened in the original book; after this story.

But in the context of this story, the horrible ending that everyone comes to doesn't matter because they had those moments where they were happy.  And those moments of hope that he was looking for, to him, the rest of the story would be worth it. 

It's such a simple idea; and was done so well.

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« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2010, 01:30:52 AM »

I think the worst thing that can be said about a story is that it was "okay."  Not great, not awful.  Just kind of there.

This story, for me, was okay.  I was glad to see a personal growth ending rather than a ha-ha-the-bitch-had-it-coming ending, but it IS Resnick, so I'm not terribly surprised.  (Though he had some considerably darker stories in the past, I haven't seen one recently that wasn't hovering right on the borderline of schmaltzy.  Usually not quite going over, but always sort of toeing the line, as it were.)  For me, the Baroness' growth as a person was just a little too fast and easy to make much sense.  I mean, if the Doctor really married her for love, you'd think that his supposed solicitous attention and generosity of spirit and such would have sparked her self-revelation a little earlier, if it was this easy to do.  That was kind of the hardest thing for me to get ahold of; how did this apparently cruel and imperious woman manage to so capture the heart of the "nice guy" Doctor, and how did he manage to woo and win her without ever having any sort of serious heart-to-heart conversation?  I couldn't see any way for them to end up where they started, in other words.  If they weren't already married and it was a story of their relationship beginning, then it would fit better; she seems to be a little too quickly won over considering the amount of disappointment and resentment she expresses in the early part of the story.

Also, I'm a bit bothered that the signs of her relationship with her husband improving are:

1) She pretends to be interested in his work (despite it being all just so dreadfully complicated for her womanly brain.)
2) She cooks him dinner (because a woman's place is in the kitchen.)
3) She agrees to have sex with him again (because a husband has a right to his wife's body, and sex between married couples is a case of the woman submitting to the man and granting him access rather than something that both parties desire and enjoy.)

The bits in parentheses are my personal reactions.  I have no idea what Mr. Resnick's attitudes or political leanings are and I wouldn't presume to judge from the story.  That's just how the events came off to me; it feels, for lack of a better word, old-fashioned.  Very Taming of the Shrew.  Mrs. Frankenstein overcomes her frigid independence and learns the joys of housewifery or something.  I dunno.  It bugged me.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 02:18:42 AM by Scattercat » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2010, 08:17:19 AM »

Ah, what would Hugo month be without another Mike Resnick story about a non-traditionally-human creature who, by its actions and words, changes a human character for the better. The story covered ground that has been already covered by many authors -- and many Resnick stories ("The Big Guy" and the one about the robot working at the church come to mind).

Resnick is a good writer, no doubt about it. But because I've heard him write this story so many times, I'm not that interested. It's like "ER" was in its last four seasons -- great writing, great acting, but there were no stories left to tell. Stanley Tucci as a troubled, hardass ER chief? Already did that with Kerry Weaver. Doctor dying of an illness? Oops, that PA lady already had AIDS. Angry African-American doctor who kicks ass but rubs management the wrong way? Sorry, Pratt, but Benton did that for like six years before you got there.

Another thing that contributed to me not really loving the story was the reading. She nailed the wife's voice, but the action was sooooooo sloooooooow and her slow reading made it even slower (similar to an issue I had with "N-Words").

All that said... of the three Hugo stories I've heard so far, this is the best IMO. But I'm hoping the next one is on par with "Exhalation" or "Impossible Dreams", instead of just average.
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« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2010, 08:57:05 AM »

The bits in parentheses are my personal reactions.  I have no idea what Mr. Resnick's attitudes or political leanings are and I wouldn't presume to judge from the story.  That's just how the events came off to me; it feels, for lack of a better word, old-fashioned.  Very Taming of the Shrew.  Mrs. Frankenstein overcomes her frigid independence and learns the joys of housewifery or something.  I dunno.  It bugged me.

Very good points.  My only reaction to this is that the story took place in a different time.  If she had taken current attitudes toward marriage and sex, then you might have complained at the anachronism...
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« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2010, 02:16:43 PM »

I split off the Hugo nominee disscussion to here.  Feel free to further discuss the Hugo Award merits or dissappointment in that thread.  This is a place for discussion of this particular story. 

The discussion was not a bad thing.  Focus drifts from time to time and topics need to be split.

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« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2010, 02:48:15 PM »

The bits in parentheses are my personal reactions.  I have no idea what Mr. Resnick's attitudes or political leanings are and I wouldn't presume to judge from the story.  That's just how the events came off to me; it feels, for lack of a better word, old-fashioned.  Very Taming of the Shrew.  Mrs. Frankenstein overcomes her frigid independence and learns the joys of housewifery or something.  I dunno.  It bugged me.

Very good points.  My only reaction to this is that the story took place in a different time.  If she had taken current attitudes toward marriage and sex, then you might have complained at the anachronism...

Except that *within this story* she starts out independent and forthright, up to and including reading her own copy of the Wall Street Journal and apparently managing her own stock portfolio prior to having Victor siphon it away.  So no anachronism worries here.  I don't tend to get uptight about anachronisms unless the story is trying for dead-set realism.
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« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2010, 08:34:10 PM »

When the doctor asked what kind of brain Igor brought him, the first thing I thought of was Igor saying "Uhh... Abby someone. Normal. Abby Normal."
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« Reply #19 on: June 30, 2010, 03:02:27 PM »

Of the nominees so far this was the best, or rather : the better one.  The story was mildly interesting, but very quickly it became predictable and a little tedious.  I wonder what this would have done without the Resnic name on it.  Well read, which more or less carried the story for me.  A different take on a classic story is hardly original anymore. In itself no reason not to do it anyway, but everything put together this story was OK, but nothing more.
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