In a double pastiche of Jane Austen and Mary Shelley, John Kessel‘s “Pride and Prometheus” introduces Mary Bennett to Viktor Frankenstein. Being a tortured romantic hero, Viktor fits neatly into Mary’s world, seeming at first merely to be a moody, intelligent young man who is unaccountably intrigued by what Mary’s interest in natural philosophy. But we know what he’s really done. Bwa-ha-ha, indeed.
It’s been years since I read the originals, so it was fun to see the characters from their respective books portrayed so well. Back in those days, I preferred gothic angst to mating rituals, but now I think I can appreciate the Austen aspect, which seems to be largely scenes of family life that would be excruciatingly boring if told in full narrative (which implies the narrator’s suffering) that are summarized and enlivened by the narrator’s sharp observations.
This story is mainly about a collision of worlds and the unhappy results. Near the end, mating angst tells off gothic ritual, in a scene I loved so much I went back and read it again.