«The Future of Humans in a Post-Human World»: Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson

  • Fausto Ciompi University of Pisa
Keywords: Jeannette Winterson, Speculative fiction, Frankisstein, Transhuman, Posthuman, Simulacra, Artificial Intelligence


 Frankissstein: A Love Story, Jeanette Winterson's 2019 novel, is a mirror transposition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The novel adumbrates a posthuman or transhuman life to be lived “forever as brain emulation” (Winterson 2020, 104). What was traditionally known as the human being is now required to transcend biology through “better biology” (ibid. 113), i.e., Artificial Intelligence.  Assuming that homo sapiens is not a special case, an ontology that transcends the human/nonhuman divide is proposed in Winterson’s story by scientist Victor Stein. He assumes that we can develop our brain software through learning, including outsourcing to machines, until we learn to share the planet with “non biological forms created by us” (ibid. 73). This delineates a utopian dimension in which the relationship between self, other and power is reworked so that as, in Donna Haraway’s words, there is “agency ...without defended subjects” (Haraway 1991, 3). Or, in other words, a world in which the cyborgification (the fusion of nature and culture/technology) is seen as inevitable and there is no need to ‘defend’ nature. With further lines of thought, my paper explores the metaphorical fields (parallel worlds, simulacra) and narrative devices (metalepsis, alternating montage, internal parallelism) that underpin this story. My point is that the attempted fusion of nature and technology, as theorised by techno-scientists in Winterson’s story, only produces a modification in the attitude of some unaugmented humans towards other unaugmented humans, both living and dead. Eventually humans are not cyborgs, nor inforgs, nor full-blown transhumans but boundary creatures straddling alternative ontologies and often acting as less than humans, infrahumans or, like transexual Ry Shelley, “inappropriate others” (Haraway 1992).


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How to Cite
Ciompi, F. (2022). «The Future of Humans in a Post-Human World»: <em>Frankissstein</em&gt; by Jeanette Winterson. Between, 12(24), 165-182. https://doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/5161