We Shall Be Monsters IS ALIIIIIVE

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Exciting news for all of you who have been waiting while we assembled this beautiful monster piece by piece – We Shall Be Monsters IS ALIIIIIVE!!

We Shall Be Monsters is our homage to the brilliant Mary Shelley and her monstrous creation Frankenstein. We Shall Be Monsters honours the 200 year legacy of Mary Shelley’s publication of Frankenstein, a novel that has shifted, changed, and been adapted throughout that time period. Frankenstein is a tale that endures through time, telling something new to each new generation that encounters is.

We Shall Be Monsters collects diverse voices on the topic of Frankenstein, reimagining the text for today’s audience, illustrating the versatility and changeability of this text. Each writer reimagined the story of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster for a new audience, playing with ideas in the text and adding their own bits of knowledge, experience, and creativity to a monster that is already an assemblage of multiple different parts. We stitched together aspects of the new monster with aspects of the classic monster of Mary Shelley’s creation to create something that speaks to a new age, a new era of the monster’s existence.

The authors in this collection integrate under-represented voices to the Frankenstein tale, drawing on experiences of disability, indigeneity, ethnicity, Queer and Trans identities. Frankenstein is a tale of oppression, so the voices of authors who have experienced oppression were important for shaping this collection.

You can now get your own copy of We Shall Be Monsters at Renaissance Press’ website at https://renaissancebookpress.com/product/we-shall-be-monsters/

We Shall Be Monsters is edited by 9 time Aurora Award Winning Editor Derek Newman-Stille and contains the works of authors like

Day Al-Mohamed

Lena Ng

Andrew Wilmot

Alex Acks

Evelyn Deshane

D. Simon Turner

Jennifer Lee Rossman

Randall G. Arnold

Liam Hogan

KC Grigant

Cait Gordon

Halli Lilburn

JF Garrard

Kev Harrison

Corey Redekop

Max D. Stanton

Eric Choi

Joseph McGinty

Joshua Bartolome

Arianna Verbree

Priya Sridhar

Lisa Carreiro

Kaitlin Tremblay

Victoria K. Martin

Ashley Caranto Morford

Kate Story

And remember, you can get your copy of We Shall Be Monsters at Renaissance Press’ website at https://renaissancebookpress.com/product/we-shall-be-monsters/

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Immortality Piece by Piece

Immortality Piece by Piece
A review of Day Al-Mohamed’s “Ashes to Ashes” in We Shall Be Monsters (Renaissance Press, 2018).

By Derek Newman-Stille

Day Al-Mohamed’s “Ashes to Ashes” is a contemplation of immortality, but not the simple, pretty immortality that is generally presented in stories, rather this immortality is messy, complicated, and, at its core, rotten. Al-Mohamed’s protagonist is a doctor firmly rooted in science and firmly disinterested in the supernatural… so what happens when that doctor awakens in a body that is clearly dead? How does the doctor reconcile the firm scientific belief that there is nothing beyond this life with the strange animation of his flesh?

Most people fear death. Most people would opt for immortality if given the opportunity, but Al-Mohamed’s tale is an exploration of the horrors of eternal life. It is a discourse on decay and rot and the fear of losing everything that makes life meaningful and worth living. Al-Mohamed explores the isolation and loneliness that comes with immortality, the loss of normalcy, and the fear of further bodily losses.

This Frankensteinian tale entwines the medical and the monstrous, combining Dr. Frankenstein and his monster into one body seeking survival while driven by the passion to discover. 

To find out more about Day Al-Moahmed, visit http://dayalmohamed.com

To discover more about We Shall Be Monsters, visit Renaissance Press’ website at https://renaissancebookpress.com/product/we-shall-be-monsters/

Eyes of a Monster

Eyes of a Monster

A review of Junji Ito’s Frankenstein (VIZ Media, 2013)

By Derek Newman-Stille

Dialogue is important in Junji Ito’s Frankenstein, but it is the eyes of the characters that speak louder. Whole worlds of suffering and histories of torment speak through the eyes of the characters in Junji Ito’s adaptation. The monster has strange, gaslit eyes that speak of an otherworldliness that is far more distancing than the green skin, electrodes or stitches of the Universal Studios Frankenstein. And yet, despite the otherworldly look of the monster’s eyes, Dr. Frankenstein’s eyes are far more haunted. Junji Ito manages to imbue the doctor’s eyes with years of torment, but also with a distant look of someone who has spent his life looking off into the next horizon. Victor’s eyes are draped in shadow, sunken to illustrate what obsession does to a person. It’s as though his body is consuming itself with its passion for discovery… and later with its horror at that same discovery.

The manga’s use of black and white has the power to focus the reader’s attention on shadows and depth, which Junji Ito uses to his advantage to create haunting, inescapable scenes.

Junji Ito’s monster is a hulking, awkward, bandaged figure that seems to mock humanity with its presence on the page. As much as it emulates the human form, the monster sits on the page like an insectile monster, its limbs resembling that of a praying mantis. Junji Ito marbles the flesh of the monster with rot, giving texture to every part of the monster’s body that is revealed through the bandages.

Although I tend to read Mary Shelley’s monster as sympathetic, there is none of this sympathy to be evoked from Junji Ito’s monster. There is none of the pathos or emotional connection. Junji Ito’s monster is a murderer who just wants to hurt humanity whenever possible. Part of this may be the shortened scene of the monster’s interaction with Felix, Safie, the old man, and their family. Instead of getting a sense of the monster wanting to learn from humanity only to be spurned at his only source of connection to humanity, this monster’s encounter with the family feels shortened and Junji Ito focusses far more on the murders that the monster perpetrates. Although, like Shelley’s monster, Junji Ito’s monster is eloquent, he has far fewer opportunities to talk or share his feelings and understandings of the world with his reader. We don’t, for example, hear the monster’s discourse about his own abjection and the horrors of loneliness.

Junji Ito gives us a more horror-filled tale of monstrosity without the complicated pathos that is frequently seen through recent adaptations of Mary Shelley’s text. This monster is meant to evoke terror.

To find out more about Junji Ito’s Frankenstein, go to https://www.viz.com/frankenstein-junji-ito-story-collection

An Interview with Frankenstein Scholar Sarah Milner

An Interview with Frankenstein scholar Sarah Milner, Trent University.

By Derek Newman-Stille

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Sarah Milner is a researcher at Trent University. Her interests include textual adaptations, transformative texts, film studies, and the filmography of James Whale in addition to her studies of Frankenstein. Milner is also a bluegrass musician, a performer, and radio personality.

 

In our interview, Sarah Milner discusses Frankenstein’s monster as an outsider, the Universal Frankenstein films, the work of director James Whale, gender, textual adaptation, Frankenstein stories for children, and humanizing the monster.

 

Click on the link below to check out our scholarly interview with Sarah Milner:

We Shall Be Monsters scholarly interviews

 

 

 

Poor Monster

Poor Monster

A review of Charles de Lint’s “Pity The Monsters” in The Ultimate Frankenstein (Simon & Schuster Inc., 1991)

By Derek Newman-Stille

I was surprised to see that Charles de Lint set his Frankenstein tale Pity The Monsters in the city he invented – Newford – a city that he generally sets tales of fairies and fantasy in, but in doing so, he illustrated the fantasy quality of Frankenstein tales, and he stuck to areas that he has often evoked in his Newford-centred stories. De Lint used a Frankenstein tale to explore ideas of poverty and homelessness, setting his tale in the impoverished part of Newford generally called The Tombs, an area of abandoned buildings that house squatters of the human and supernatural variety. De Lint explores the interweaving of normal city life with the uncanny, as he generally does in his Newford tales, having characters pulled out of their normate lives as they encounter something seemingly otherworldly. He illustrates to his audience that normalcy is a facade, a construction, and that it is a thin veneer that shows its artificiality when scratched.

Pity The Monsters is a tale that explores ideas of mental illness and altered perceptions while also examining the dispossession that often faces people with mental illness. It explores parental abuse and violence, entitlement and bodies, because Frankenstein IS a tale of violence, parental abuse, and entitlement over the bodies of others. It is a tale about the pain of Otherness and rejection and a tale about the policing of othered bodies.

To find out more about Charles de Lint, go to https://www.sfsite.com/charlesdelint/

An Interview with Ashley Caranto Morford, author of “My Name is Wollstonecraft” in We Shall Be Monsters

Interview with Ashley Caranto Morford, author of “It Was On A Joyful Night in November” in We Shall Be Monsters

By Derek Newman-Stille

ashleymorford

Q: To begin our interview, could you tell readers a little bit about yourself?

 

Caranto Morford: Hi everyone! Thank you so much for supporting this project! I’m Ashley Caranto Morford. My pronouns are she/her. I identify as mad and am on the asexual spectrum. I am a woman of colour, a member of the Visayan and Luzonese diasporas on my mother’s side and British on my father’s side. I am currently a PhD student in Literature and Book History at the University of Toronto, which occupies the territories of the Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and Anishinaabe nations.

 

Q: What inspired you to explore the privilege Victor occupies in this story? Victor’s arrogance in seeking to create life has always struck me as an act of a person in privilege. What in Mary Shelley’s tale inspired you to see his privilege and arrogance?

 

Caranto Morford: I wanted to emphasize that Mary Shelley’s Victor is representative of colonial scholarship. Victor is representative of Western science’s ongoing legacies of exploiting marginalized communities without consent. He steals from communities under the banner of research, for instance in his taking of body parts from graves and other spaces without the consent of those human and other-than-human peoples. As is also representative of colonial scholarship, he refuses to be in ongoing relationship or kinship with those communities, which is emphasized when he refuses to be in relationship with his Creation. Further, the desire to know everything and to think that one has the right to know everything is a colonial desire. We must accept, respect, and understand that there are certain knowledges that not everyone has the right to, but, as is too often true of colonial scholarship, Victor does not honour that.

 

Q: You evoke a commonality between the blind man De Lacey from Shelley’s story and Victor’s creation Wollstonecraft. What inspired you to connect these two individuals?

 

Caranto Morford: In the Nick Dear adaptation of Frankenstein, De Lacey is an educator and a mentor to the Creature. They grow close, they teach one another and learn from one another, and, at times, their discussions engage with and confront ableism, albeit their discussions and moments of learning/teaching are often problematic and colonial. But I wanted to honour the close connection they grow to have in the Dear adaptation, and especially to honour it and re-imagine it from a decolonial lens.

 

Q: You explore a multiplicity of identities in the small community in which Wollstonecraft has found themself. What inspired you to evoke so many different identities?

 

Caranto Morford: Representation matters. This world is filled with diverse people, yet all too many mainstream movies and books present the world as narrowly white, cisgender, heterosexual, neurotypical, able-bodied, thin. And, when those of us from marginalized positionalities are represented in mainstream media, it is all too often in stereotypical, highly problematic, highly oppressive, highly colonial ways. That needs to change. Seeing ourselves represented in our humanities in films and books is so crucial in helping us to understand and love our beautiful and diverse identities and selves. I want to see the world represented in its diversity through films and books, and I want films and books to celebrate the beauty of decolonial pasts, presents, futures, and ways of being.

 

Q: Your story brings out the way that Mary Shelley’s text was haunted by colonialism. What inspired you to bring out these colonial aspects of the narrative?

 

Caranto Morford: The novel was written when the British Empire was the world’s dominant colonial force. The ways in which the text is shaped by colonial ideologies and the ways that it both grapples with but also upholds colonialism has always interested me, and yet I don’t think that the colonialism and the anti-colonial potentials of the text get talked about enough. I wanted to bring these aspects to the forefront. What about the shift in tone from the 1818 and 1831 versions, with the 1831 version taking on more overt mentions of and connections to colonialism and imperialism through Clerval? The main story of Shelley’s text, too, is buttressed by the story of Arctic exploration, and European/Western exploration of the Arctic is deeply intertwined with colonialism and imperialism. Yet Mary seems incredibly skeptical of Western colonial society’s desire for knowledge. Walton is egotistical and dislikeable, as is Victor, and both of their journeys to gain knowledge are dangerous and destructive.

 

Q: In your story, you speak of a “decolonial love”. Could you tell us a bit more about why that spoke to you so strongly? Connectedly, the notion of “found family” seems to shape a lot of the ideas in this story. What inspired you to explore Victor’s creation accessing a familial structure?

 

Caranto Morford: Colonialism has dictated that the most significant love, the one that we should privilege above all others, is monogamous romantic-sexual love. Colonialism has suggested that, to be successful, one must get married and have a nuclear family — that that is something everyone should desire. As a person on the ace spectrum, I want to challenge those ideas. I want to emphasize how significant, intimate, and beautiful friendships and the love of and for friends can be and is. I want to celebrate platonic love and the joys of platonic love.

 

Q: Your story discusses many different academic texts, particularly those with an activist quality. What evoked this desire to share these texts with Victor’s creation? Was this a way of educating Mary Shelley’s character about ways of occupying a decolonial world?

 

Caranto Morford: Absolutely. These books have been such a gift and privilege for me to read; they are so full of wisdom, so full of decolonial teachings, written by such amazing activists, and they are not read nor celebrated enough in mainstream spaces. Sharing these texts with Wollstonecraft — and Wollstonecraft’s reciprocal act of sharing these texts with readers — was also a way of speaking back to the Creature’s education in the Shelley text, wherein they read texts that have been labelled “canonical” and yet these texts often perpetuate toxic colonial ideas. I want to challenge what we consider to be “the literary canon,” and the kinds of teachings and authors that get privileged through the mainstream “canon”.

 

Q: Where can readers find out more about your work and see what you are up to?

 

Caranto Morford:You can follow me on Twitter: @ashleycmorford

 

An Interview with Lena Ng, author of “Love Transcendent” in We Shall Be Monsters

Interview with Lena Ng, author of “Love Transcendent” in We Shall Be Monsters

Lena Ng Author Pic B&W

Q: To begin our interview, could you tell readers a little bit about yourself?

 

Ng: I love reading and the beauty of prose. I grew up in a house filled with books and am trying to fill my own home with them as well. I am fortunate to live close to a library but I like to have my own copy of books I especially love so I can make notes and re-read on a whim.

 

Q: What spoke to you about Mary Shelley’s story? What appealed to you about Frankenstein?

 

Ng: I always liked the theme of the misunderstood monster – Beauty and the Beast, The Phantom of the Opera, Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray.  This theme combined with the theme of scientific innovation with unintended consequences, which has modern-day applications with today’s technological speed, makes Frankenstein a powerful story.

 

Q: I am fascinated by your focus on the figure of the surgeon. What attracted you to exploring Victorian surgery for this story?

 

Ng: I had read an article about the Anatomical Venus, 18th-century wax female cadavers which were used to teach anatomy because of the low availability of women’s bodies for dissection. The figures were morbidly beautiful and the idea stuck with me.

A link to the article:

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/may/17/anatomical-venus-anatomy-human-biology-joanna-ebenstein-books

 

Q: Why create a surgeon who is still a student?

 

Ng: I wanted a vulnerable character, not someone cynical or jaded. An idealistic character confronted by the limitations of the body, who wanted to overcome those limitations. The reader could then feel his fear and trepidation with him and understand his motives.

 

Q: I was really interested in the way that you had James, your main character, find Victor Frankenstein’s journal. What appealed to you about the idea of bringing the personal notes of Frankenstein into your story?

 

Ng: I liked the thought of James inhabiting Frankenstein’s fictional world and building on his work, paralleling how science progresses from previous science.

 

Q: The theme of love is strong in this story, and, particularly, of love after death. What encouraged you to think about love as a key factor of the Frankenstein narrative and in your own story?

 

Ng: In 2012, when my father was in the ICU, my love for him wanted to keep him alive indefinitely on life support, despite there being no hope for recovery after his massive stroke. The desperation of arguing with his doctors who I knew were right, but I didn’t want to believe. It was difficult for my family to finally accept the decision to let him go. Like in Frankenstein, sometimes horror can arise from the best of intentions, such as scientific advancement or love or loneliness, and it’s a theme that comes up repeatedly in my work.

 

Q: I was fascinated by the scene of James interacting with the spiritualist. What inspired the inclusion of a spiritualist and seance in this story?

 

Ng: I’m amazed at how much we know in terms of how our bodies work and how the universe works, and how much there is still to discover. The spiritualist represents all of the unknown and unanswerable, and the part of us which hopes that we are more than the sum of our parts.

 

Q: In your description of Olivia, there seemed to be an almost Snow White fairy tale element. What fairy tale elements influenced your story?

 

Ng: The stories of Hans Christian Anderson, such as The Little Match Girl or the original Little Mermaid (not the Disney version), have themes of sacrifice and redemption, themes that resonate with me.  His stories’ ‘happily ever after’ are underscored with sadness which I’ve tried to have as well.

 

Q: Your story plays with ideas of freedom versus a feeling of being caged. What inspired you to explore these images?

 

Ng: Again it relates back to my father; his body was there but he wasn’t. But his death doesn’t mean I can’t have a relationship with him, as a friend said to comfort me.

 

Q: How can readers find out more about what you are up to?

 

Ng: I have an ebook collection of short stories called “Under an Autumn Moon.” Some of my short stories, mainly comedic pieces, can be read on-line on Antimattermag.com, Fairytalemagazine.com, or Polar Borealis (PDF). I’m trying to find a publisher for my Gothic romance Darkness Beckons, also set in the Victorian era. Otherwise, I’m a digital hermit with no Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc. Not even a cell phone.  I like being hidden away in my womb-like apartment, reading or writing.