The Plot

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 456

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.

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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 consequences of technological advancement with Percy Bysshe Shelley, who believes that science will liberate the individual and usher in an era of equality. Bodenland has an ecstatic sexual encounter with Mary Shelley. Her book is only partially written, however, and she cannot tell Bodenland how it will end.

Believing that taking control of the events in the novel will head off disaster in his own time, Bodenland becomes obsessed with destroying Frankenstein’s monster. Bodenland pursues the scientist to his laboratory, where he is about to bring to life a female mate for his creation. Convinced that there is a direct causal link between Frankenstein’s recklessly...

(The entire section contains 493 words.)

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