I've talked about Frankenstein's Legions on this blog before. Here, for instance. And here. I'll be talking about it more over the month ahead because I'm involved in a Kickstarter with Cubus Games, who will be creating an interactive story set in that world, under its new title The Frankenstein Wars.
The concept is simple. In the 1820s, Victor Frankenstein's secrets are recovered. Some of them, anyway - specifically, the ability to sew a body together from scavenged parts and bring it back to life. In France, a new revolution brings the Zeroistes to power. Named for the their "Year Zero" mentality, they are willing to do whatever it takes to usher in a new society. And that includes recycling the bodies of those killed in battle to create an endlessly-respawning army.
And what about Frankenstein's monster? He represents something more than a patchwork revivified man. In Mary Shelley's novel he was a new lifeform, a homo superior, with greater strength, endurance and intellect than any normal man. If you want to read his origin story, it's a lot more interesting than the Universal sparks-n-stitches version, and my interactive novel is as good a place as any to start.
But here in The Frankenstein Wars, the monster is thirty years older. He's learned to be warier and more ruthless - and this is a guy who was willing to strangle kids and murder innocent people even in his formative years. He calls himself Mr Legion now. Here's a scene between him and Lord Blakeney:
That night. Blakeney warms himself in front of a crackling log fire, a glass of brandy cupped in his hand. In the leather armchair opposite him sits Mr Legion, also slowly swirling a brandy. His cigar glows in the gloom of the dining room, where they have just finished a meal.Lord Blakeney, as you will have guessed, is the former Scarlet Pimpernel. Now in his mid-60s he commands the British secret service (officially known as the Alien Affairs Committee). In a very real sense he is the “M” of his day.
“I think Miss Byron’s vacation might need to come to an end quite soon,” remarks Blakeney.
“You know, Blakeney, when I was thirty years younger I would have thrown you in the fireplace, burned down the house, and killed every man between here and Hastings. I also would have settled for the cheap brandy.”
“Why is that? The burning and the killing, I mean.”
“You were expecting them to kidnap Ada Byron.”
“Not exactly. I merely made sure we had a contingency in case you failed. As sometimes you do.”
“And now you’d like her back.”
“Her improved revitalizing serum, at any rate. I’m sure Napoleon doesn’t care for the cheap stuff either.”
Mr Legion blows a smoke ring and watches it drift in the firelight, like a god contemplating the constellations he has made. “You’re not counting on Clerval for that?”
Blakeney smiles. “Doctor Clerval is one of those men you can count on utterly. Their moral code is so predictable.” Blakeney gets up and walks to the window, pulling aside the curtain to gaze into the night. “And he’s a man who doesn’t shirk from a challenge. So also there’s that. But what’s really at the bottom of it all, I suppose, is love.”
Legion drains his brandy in one gulp and tosses the cigar stub into the fire. “All right,” he says, rising. “I have my own reasons, of course.”
Blakeney watches the door close behind him. “Of course you do," he says to the empty room. "But in your case it's a long way from love.”
The Frankenstein Wars app is based on my world and story, but that's not all. It's being written by Paul Gresty, who is also the talent behind the new Fabled Lands book, The Serpent King's Domain. At Cubus's request, Paul is adding some steampunk tech to the mix. There was a little bit there already in my story outline, in the devices Ada Byron had constructed. Personally I'd have have left it at that, not feeling the need to add a gilding of steampunk to the lily of Frankensteinian body horror. But I'm not writing it so I've given Cubus and Mr Gresty carte blanche to take whatever liberties they need to. Without a doubt Paul will be adding his own unique style of interactive storytelling to the bare bones of the plot and characters that I provided.
You'll be hearing more of The Frankenstein Wars over the next few weeks - not just here but on the project's Kickstarter page as well.