The Workshop of Filthy Creation

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Pub Date 31 Oct 2021 | Archive Date 30 Nov 2021


"The Workshop of Filthy Creation is a remarkable book, visceral and philosophical in equal measure. The perfect combination of big ideas and a rattling good yarn. Hell of a read." - James Kinsley, author of Playtime's Over

In the autumn of 1879, an intelligent, artificially-created being—outwardly a young woman called Maria—arrives in London under the protection of biologist Professor George Hobson. Hobson gathers a few close friends and reveals her existence, explaining that she is the final result of a research programme undertaken by a dynasty of unethical scientists, the von Frakkens—all now dead.

Unknown to Hobson, one of his friends, Jabez Pell, is linked to an underground scientific organisation, the Promethean Society. Set up in the early 1800s, its aim is to conquer death by whatever means possible. Pell immediately recognises the potential that Maria's regenerative abilities can offer to the Prometheans – but after his attempt to kidnap her turns deadly, Maria goes on the run.

Maria finds herself at the heart of raging controversy: some want her jailed, some want her dead, and some want to peel the flesh from her bones. Worse, she is now hunted not only by members of the Prometheans but also by the police—and her creator Wilhelm von Frakken, who, as it turns out, is alive, in a sense . . .

Thrilling and evocative, fantastical and grotesque, The Workshop of Filthy Creation uses a Frankenstein-ian thread to stitch together elements of real scientific history with the darkest parts of Victorian London and speculation on the nature of human life.

"The Workshop of Filthy Creation is a remarkable book, visceral and philosophical in equal measure. The perfect combination of big ideas and a rattling good yarn. Hell of a read." - James Kinsley...

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ISBN 9781838498740
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Featured Reviews

Holy Hell where do I start with this book – a retelling of Frankenstein in such a way that Frankenstein was not a work of fiction but in fact a manual compiled by a scientist that has been taken and hidden by those in authority – but what if someone finds the manual, takes it and creates an artificial life. I loved everything about this book, it was well written, had a good pace and good flow with well-developed characters – especially the female monster. It is a delicious examination od Victorian society, class and those with privilege and I really enjoyed the way that the tension between rich and poor was subtly woven throughout the text. The main thing that I really enjoyed is that the lessons that were there to be learnt from Frankenstein are in this story also to be learnt from- showing that in terms of humanity we have learnt nothing since the original was written and we still have a long way to go.

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Richard Gadz’s The Workshop of Filthy Creation is a Gothic horror story that gives a new twist to Mary Shelley's famous novel Frankenstein. Its backstory reimagines an alternative life story of Victor Frankenstein, the scientist who created a tall, large and hideous creature, which many had dubbed The Monster. Maverick scientist Wilhelm von Frakken is mad that someone has stolen his prized possession and would kill to get it back. That someone is British Museum’s biologist Professor George Hobson, whom Frakken has earlier kidnapped and brought to his large mansion in Hanover, Germany, to help with his experiments on artificial human life. Frakken introduced Hobson to Maria, an artificial being that he has created. After a heated argument that caused a fire in the mansion, Hobson escapes with Maria and both arrive home in London in the autumn of 1879. Frakken is presumed dead. Hobson soon discovers that Maria is no ordinary young woman. Though hideous in looks, she’s tall and slender, unusually strong and agile, highly intelligent, and embodied with regenerating flesh. He is very keen to share his incredible find with his close friends in London. This includes Jabez Pell, a factory owner and businessman. But unknown to Hobson, Pell is linked to the Promethean Society, an underground scientific organisation set up in the early 1800s. Its aim is to prolong human life by whatever scientific means possible. Pell immediately recognises the huge commercial potential that Maria's regenerative abilities can offer to his struggling business and to the Prometheans. Frakken unexpectedly shows up at Pell’s factory. He compels Pell to reveal the whereabouts of Hobson and Maria. They, together with two members of the Promethean Society, then hatches a daring plan to kidnap Maria from Hobson’s home. But the attempt goes horribly awry, leaving Hobson dead and Maria on the run. Maria finds herself being the subject of news headlines. Reviled as a monster, she’s being hunted down, not only by the police but by the Prometheans and her creator Frakken, who needs her flesh to heal his damaged body. She decides that instead of being hunted, she must become the hunter... I don’t normally read horror novels (I used to in my teens) but I have to admit that I was greatly intrigued by the Frankenstein trope that this book uses. So I decided that I must read it. I wasn’t disappointed. Truth be told, I really did enjoy the read! The Workshop of Filthy Creation cleverly weaves the history of medical science with fantastical speculations of artificial human life in the heart of Victorian London. The result is a disturbing, grotesque tale that will surely assault one’s sense of human dignity, decency and moral rightness. The first few chapters may seem like a plod for some. That's because, I think, the author took great pains to set the stage for the tense, nail-biting drama that follows, leading to a deadly face-off between the hunter and the hunted. For readers who need a good dose of the macabre and gore to finish off the day, let Wilhelm von Frakken tantalise you with his most vile scientific prowess and experiments. You won’t be disappointed. My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the free ARC e-copy. My review is given voluntarily.

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If you like the story of Frankenstein or that of the Promotheus then this Frankenstein-inspired tale should tick the boxes for you. Maria, created by Von Frakken (the real life Frankenstein family according to the book), escapes her creator and is hunted down by all sorts of people interested in her for various reasons. Set 60 odd years later, the book has evolved the creation experiments so that Von Frakken can actually grow flesh rather than bring the dead to life. This, to some extent, seems more feasible and it is a nice touch along with several issues that Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" deals with - who is the Creator? Creator vs God and more. It doesn't go into the issues as much but it is a nice nod towards the "original".

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