Celebrity Frankenstein

Stephen Volk is one of the finest writers of short horror stories (or weird fiction, whatever) writing today. His latest collection, The Parts We Play, was published by PS last year. The first story is “Celebrity Frankenstein”, and a very good story it is.

“Celebrity Frankenstein” originally appeared in Exotic Gothic 4 in 2012 and has since been republished in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 24 and in In the Shadow of Frankenstein (this is where I first read it), both edited by Stephen Jones.

Volk writes often of the movie world and its characters (such as Hitchcock in the novella Leytonstone) and here he tackles familiar ground. In this case a monster celebrity is created – a creature made out of parts from six or more individuals, all in the name of television, of entertainment. The chimera does indeed become a celebrity, famous and rich. This story examines the fixation we have on reality shows, of fame and fortune, the rise and fall of celebrity status, of the shallow aspirations of TV-show makers, of the shortcuts wealth can buy (think a certain celebrity murder trial). It is told in the first person and by the end it’s easy to feel some compassion for the creature, despite all. He is the famous star and the victim at the same time. A thoroughly recommended story.

— Peter Coleborn