The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

In the year 2020, worldwide racial war has broken out. Retired diplomat Joseph Bodenland writes to his wife, Mina, asking her to return and describing an odd ceremony performed by their grandchildren. The children buried a motor scooter, adorned the “grave” with flowers, and danced around it, asking for a “good Feast.” Bodenland observes that “children live in myth.” He refers to this enigmatic incident several times during the course of the novel.

Nuclear warfare in the stratosphere has damaged the infrastructure of space. When a resulting “Timeslip” takes his household to the richly sensuous world of nineteenth century Switzerland, Bodenland goes out to explore and is stranded when the ranch and the rest of its inhabitants return to 2020.

One of the first people Bodenland meets is Victor Frankenstein, who is agonizing over the murder of his six-year-old brother, William, by the monster he created. Subsequently, Bodenland attends the trial of William’s nursemaid, Justine Mortiz, who is convicted of the murder. Bodenland realizes that he is witnessing events from Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus (1818).

Concluding that this world includes both fictional and historical persons, Bodenland seeks out Lord Byron and the Shelleys at Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva, hoping to find a copy of Frankenstein, which he remembers only vaguely. At Villa Diodati, he argues about the...

(The entire section is 456 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Aldiss, Brian W. Billion Year Spree: The True History of Science Fiction, 1973.

Hall, H. W. Review in Library Journal. XCIX (August, 1974), p. 1988.

Rogan, Helen. Review in Time. CIV (August 5, 1974), p. 84.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus, 1818.