Several years ago, (maybe about ten) I ran across a short story, a retelling of Frankenstein with a twist - and for whatever reason, haven't been able to find it again. Most likely I read it in an anthology of short stories, maybe a specifically sci/fi anthology or maybe a more general one from literature classes, but I've paged through so many I couldn't tell you which or even when.

The story very briefly covers the original events (or some? most?) from the creature's point of view, with the twist that after the fact, the creature discovers that it was not a creation, but an alien that happened to be mistaken for the attempted creation, in the same lab accident which caused it to have amnesia... and the ultimate twist, revealed after the alien had gotten back its memories and left, was that it had been there checking up on humanity - and probably specifically Frankenstein's attempts - because humanity itself was the creation of the aliens, as the exact same thing (lab project creating life).

I recall a couple other details, like the alien's original clothes were stolen by a lab assistant (finding the boots was an integral part of tracking down the real story and regaining his memories) and one of the things that had lead him to question his status as a creation was Frankenstein's attempt at a woman, which looked very much patched together, and not whole even if large and strangely shaped, as the alien did.

The closest I've been able to find is Saberhagen's novel, but it is not only too long (as 'novel' to 'short story' implies) but according to reviews also contains events that the short story didn't... like the American revolution, references to slavery, and so on. Additionally, the story felt complete, and was wrapped up in a way that makes me think it was not an excerpt - it covered from waking in the lab to leaving on the spaceship. and while the premise has stuck with me, I have no title or author to search for it better...

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    I remember this story, and I keep associating it with Saberhagen. Maybe it was an early draft of the novel?
    – Joe L.
    Oct 15 '15 at 14:54
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    I haven't read it, but an excerpt from Saberhagen's The Frankenstein Papers was published in the anthology Heroes in Hell (Janet Morris, ed.) Sure that couldn't be it?
    – user14111
    Oct 15 '15 at 19:06
  • It might be a short story that later got expanded, that's true, but if so it's not coming up on searches. As for the excerpt, the anthology name is not familiar to me - but it is possible, if it got reprinted elsewhere, and if whoever excerpted it was really, really good at it, to encapsulate the plot in a few pages. I'd believe short story that got expanded, a bit more.
    – Megha
    Oct 16 '15 at 3:51

I recently got a hold of "The Frankenstein Papers" by Fred Saberhagen, the novel that kept coming up in my searches yet I was hesitant about because of what I could pick out from the reviews.

The overlap was very high in some places... including a lot of very specific wording, especially in the details I mention in the original question (like where the woman is made, the process of finding the boots, and the ending).

There are other elements which I am fairly sure i did not read and forget, but I cannot doubt these stories are related. The answer must be either a cleverly done excerpt, or a short story which later got expanded into the novel.

My thanks to those of you who tried to help!

  • Did you ever check out this short version of Saberhagen's story, which I mentioned in a comment?
    – user14111
    Jan 12 '16 at 9:11
  • @user14111 - I got my hands on the copy of Frankenstein Papers first, so the answer is, "not yet". It will be nice if I find the exact excerpt/story, but it stopped annoying me as much once I read the book and was sure it was one of them.
    – Megha
    Jan 12 '16 at 9:17

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