Author: Brian W. Aldiss
First published: 1973
Locale: Texas and Switzerland
Plot: Science fiction
Time: 2020 and 1816
Joseph (Joe) Bodenland, a liberal presidential adviser deposed by right-wing extremists. He is transported by a timeslip from the twenty-first to the early nineteenth century. He is a grandfather but becomes young again when the timeslip takes him back to 1816. He finds himself at Lake Geneva, near the Villa Diodati, where he meets Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Shelley's mistress, Mary, who is in the process of writing the novel Frankenstein. Attracted to Mary, he has a brief affair with her. Having come from the future, Bodenland can foretell the ecological damage that will be wrought by technology run amok, by the conquest of nature symbolized by Frankenstein's experiments. Consequently, he kills Frankenstein and destroys both Frankenstein's monster and his mate.
Victor Frankenstein, a Swiss scientist. Unlike the Frankenstein of Mary Shelley's novel, who is an idealistic man of sensibility, this Frankenstein is a cynical, abrasive, and bitterly proud individual. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein destroys the monster's mate on which he is working, lest he create a race of monsters, and then pursues the male monster after it murders his bride, Elizabeth. In this novel, unlike Shelley's, Victor does not marry Elizabeth, nor is she killed. He completes the monster's mate and brings her to life. When he then proposes creating a third monster to fight the first two, Bodenland kills him.
Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, the author of Frankenstein, the eighteen-year-old mistress and future wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley. When Bodenland encounters her, she is still in the process of writing her novel, which she insists is fiction. At the same time, however, some of the events in it, altered by the author of Frankenstein Unbound, are occurring in a parallel world. Mary has a brief, idyllic affair with Bodenland before he returns to Geneva to try to persuade Frankenstein not to proceed with his monster making.
George Gordon, Lord Byron, the well-known English Romantic poet, who is twenty-eight years old in this novel. In self-imposed exile from England because of his dissolute life and several sex scandals, the handsome, dashing, and cynical Byron is currently the lover of Mary's half sister, Claire.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, the well-known English Romantic poet, who is twenty-four years old in this novel. He is the author of Prometheus Unbound, from which the title Frankenstein Unbound was derived. A religious and political radical, Shelley deserted his wife, who drowned herself, and is currently the lover of Mary Godwin, whom he will later marry. A session in which Byron, Shelley, and Mary told tales of terror on a tempestuous night resulted in Mary writing Frankenstein.
The Frankenstein monster, a creature cobbled together from cadavers and brought to life by Victor Frankenstein. In the original novel by Mary Shelley, the monster is a highly articulate person of sensibility, benevolent until turned to rage and violence by repeated rejection. The monster of Frankenstein Unbound lacks sensitivity and is a coarse brute who mates violently with his bride.
The monster's mate, whom Victor Frankenstein destroys in Frankenstein before her completion. In Frankenstein Unbound, she is brought to life, mates with the monster, and flees with him, pursued by Bodenland, who kills them both. In a sinister touch, Victor gives her the face of Justine Moritz, an innocent maidservant hanged for the murder of Victor's brother, who was actually killed by the monster.
Elizabeth Lavenza, Frankenstein's betrothed. In Frankenstein, she is a gentle, sorrowful person killed by the monster on her wedding night. In Frankenstein Unbound,sheisabrasive, has Bodenland arrested, and then disappears from the action, unharmed by the monster.