Arab Today, arab today frankenstein by dave morris
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Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Frankenstein by Dave Morris

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Frankenstein by Dave Morris

London - Arabstoday

For years now technology has provided opportunities for writers and artists to explore new ways of telling stories. While the world of electronic literature – born-digital, multimodal stories that combine media with text – has thrived online, sprouting hybrid forms that range from the esoteric (the code-poetry of Mez Breeze) to the accessible (Fitting the Pattern, a multimedia memoir by Christine Wilks), trade publishing has remained fixated on the book. As John Thompson, author of Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty First Century, has said, the real revolution in trade publishing has been within the realm of digital workflow; over the past decade, publishing has been digitised, the bound book itself rendered an analogue outcome of a largely digital process. Despite this huge shift in practice, moving beyond the book and into new forms that make imaginative use of the potential provided by new platforms and devices has not been at the top of the industry\'s list of priorities. However, as smartphones, tablets and touchscreen e-readers proliferate, this has begun to change, and publishers are now dipping their toes into the warm waters of digital content. When it comes to works for adults, the most successful experiments have been with perennially recognisable \"evergreen\" titles, such as the Faber/Touch Press collaboration on The Waste Land.      Sticking with this tendency toward the tried and tested, Profile Books have ventured into slightly deeper waters with their iPhone/iPad app, Frankenstein. The writer Dave Morris has collaborated with Inkle, a software and design studio, to produce a touchscreen-friendly adaptation of Mary Shelley\'s novel. Like its shelfmate, Bram Stoker\'s Dracula, Shelley\'s novel has inspired countless adaptations. All face the same set of problems: Shelley\'s fantastic idea – scientist creates monster, scientist spurns monster, monster seeks revenge – is accompanied by acres of text, philosophical tangents on the nature of science and the origins of life, many letters, a whole lot of running around the world, several ghastly murders, and a profound meditation on the uses of technology. In this adaptation, Morris runs a needle through the original text, and pulls out a long chronological thread of narrative, reshaping and refocusing the story, in prose that retains the flavour of the 19th century while leaving out what Elmore Leonard refers to as \'the bits readers skip\'. While this helps to move the story forward, Shelley\'s gothic brilliance is lost. For example, Frankenstein\'s last glimpse of the monster before they both flee – \"I started from my sleep with horror; a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed; when, by the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way through the window-shutters, I beheld the wretch – the miserable monster whom I had created\" - becomes \"I\'m soaked in sweat. And cold. I should get up and stoke the fire but … What? What was that? There\'s something at the window. Ah! It is the monster\'s face. A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous.\" The reader moves through the text in short chunks, every few paragraphs given a choice of what to read next, and which questions to pose to Victor, from \"Who is Elizabeth?\", to the more complicated \"Surely his revenge is complete?\" In this way, the reader interrogates the story, helping to shape and navigate the text. It is choose-your-own-adventure, of course, but more sophisticated and subtle than that. The text retains a linear thread, with the reader able to add and remove stitches (a neat echo of Victor stitching together a body) along the way. Morris and Inkle have retained the \"bookiness\" of books, representing the text on screen as a collection of antique parchment papers; when you move from one segment to the next, you hear a \"shhhhhup\" page-turning sound, which is the sole use of audio. There are period etchings and medical sketches, but these don\'t respond to touchscreen resizing – no zooming in to examine that flayed corpse more closely. While Morris has parsed and reoriented the story effectively, he hasn\'t fully exploited the device\'s capabilities in order to reanimate the wild technological imaginings of the story as Shelley herself might have done.

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