Once upon a time there was a man called Frankenstein who didn’t know where people came from. That has always worried me as well as there are an awful lot of people and not as many cats. Nobody would tell him were people came from because he was a bit of a prude and very posh and they thought he might blush if they had to explain all about ess-eee-exx to him. It wasn’t quite Victorian times yet though and actually lots of people were having quite a lot of ess-eee-exx including romantic poets in great big puffy shirts. The poets had three hobbies 1. writing poems 2. having lots of ess-eee-exx and 3. dying from tuberculosis.
I guess eventually somebody must have explained the process to him and oh man does he freak out. “I’m not making people that way!” he says very loudly to everybody because he is quite disgusted with the whole idea of having to be nice to somebody and learn how to cuddle and share his feelings and do all those things that would be intimate and make him feel vulnerable to another person. Not for me! He says and I don’t need quotation marks because, heck he has a point! Have you ever heard cats doing, well, you-know-what? Oh my golly gosh! The howling and the fuss and the accidentally falling off a wall and into a rosebush! Not for me and not for Victor Frankenstein either!
Also, that isn’t the end of the matter! There is pregnancy and then babies and then the babies are bratty kids and you have to look after them and you get weird hormones and then they are dependent on you and you are dependent on them and your whole life revolves around them. Sure Victor was very rich and probably had a big castle in Austria or Bavaria or Switzerland of wherever this book is set…maybe Transylvania or is that Dracula?
Victor is a brain genius. These days he would be somebody smart like Elon Muskstick or the man who invented Uber, who I guess must have been Nietzsche. Smart guys look at regular things that people do already without their help and say “Maybe there is an amazing start-up high-tech cyber wave-of-the-future disrupt-the-market think outside the box way of doing this?” and then they set up a kickstarter and go to lunch with an adventure capitalist (which is like a regular capitalist but dressed like Indiana Jones) and afternoon tea with a private inequity firm and BOOM! They have a pile of cash for R&D and rapid prototyping of their new product.
The big idea Victor has is a NEW way of making people. Instead of the whole squishy romantic intimacy stuff and the awkward pregnancy stuff and the whole lets-spend-twenty-years-raising-children-and-paying-for-college HOW ABOUT we just MAKE a person from left over bits and skip straight to the adult stage!
“Brilliant!” says Forbes. “Amazing!” says The Financial Times. “The Way of the Future!” says some third famous business magazine. Before you know it, Victor has started his new silicon valley start up and it is called something like Build-a-Bloke. He has great plans for a Build-a-Bloke in every Regency era shopping mall in the future and people will go to Build-a-Bloke parties and come out with a new person who can be their friend or get some sort of emotional validation that people get from making new people or whatever. THE DETAILS DON’T MATTER.
So Victor makes his prototype and to be fair it was his first go but he probably should have got the Ives fellow from Apple to think about the whole “look and feel” of Build-a-Bloke Mark 1.
On the positive side, Build-a-Bloke Mark 1 is very much the type that you won’t need to pay high college fees for. He can basically teach himself and that’s exactly what he does with the help from a blind man who must, I guess, have signed up for Victor’s Kickstarter and got the Mark 1 as a high-tier backer reward.
So sure, some glitches, some imperfections but Victor has pretty much the proof-of-concept nailed down good. Oh but then it all goes wrong. The Build-a-Bloke Mark 1 goes to see Victor and says “You know what, I quite like the whole idea of getting married and having somebody to cuddle on a cold winter’s night and you know maybe do some extra snuggles and maybe have some little babies to bring up as our own.” But Victor is “Oh no no no. That would void your warranty and what about all the IP and patents and copyright and what have you! You can’t just go around making your own Build-a-Bloke babies! What about my business model! What about my return on investment! What about this graph showing the tax write-offs from depreciation of assets by which I mean you!”
Well, as you can imagine that does NOT go down well. If I was going to have that meeting I’d have picked a nice cafe or fancy restaurant where people are less likely to make a fuss. Victor the ultimate hipster thought “gosh, lets have my awkward business meeting on a glacier”. Maybe he was hoping for a photo shoot from Vogue but he’d badly miscalculated because photography was a few decades off from being invented. Victor curses himself and Build-a-Bloke Mark 1 goes on a murder rampage! “I should have invented photography and disrupted the whole portraiture market and inadvertently given rise to impressionist paintings!” Victor says.
Well the two of them chase each other around the world until they both end up in Antarctica or maybe Greenland. Somewhere cold and with even more glaciers. They are out there still. Victor and Build-a-Bloke forever chasing each other with a gaggle of IP lawyers and disgruntled investors in their wake.
Meanwhile, back in Europe, Mary Shelley has this great idea for a Kickstarter and funds her new concept of “freaky horror science fiction novel”. WHAM! The whole goth romantic poet market is disrupted! And everybody is “Lets invent computers” but it is still a bit early for that and also everybody has way too much opium and tuberculosis.