Frankenstein's Legions

ABOUT Dave Morris

Dave Morris
I was the first boy in Britain to meet a Dalek in the flesh (so to speak) when my Dad took me to the BBC workshops one dark January night in 1964. That early experience probably explains quite a lot. After a childhood spent daydreaming about aliens and vampires, I discovered Marvel Comics More...



Baron Frankenstein fashioned just one creature from the remnants of the dead, but the Governments who have hijacked his discoveries see the advantage of resurrection on an industrial scale. What better way to fight their never-ending wars than with armies of obedient undead soldiers, recycled from earlier battles? And how better to silence their own citizens who protest at ceaseless conflict and plundered graveyards?

Set in the 1830s, Frankenstein’s Legions details an alternative history in which Frankensteinian science is a reality, revived after patchy prohibition by a second and even more fanatical French Revolution. The republican regime, inspired by zeal and desperation, has swept over Europe, employing inexhaustible swarms of zombie-like (or lazaran) troops. The remaining independent nations, including England, are obliged to shed their scruples and likewise raise lazaran armies.

Across this crazed and Gothic history stride Julius Frankenstein, soldier nephew of the notorious scientist; Charles Babbage inventor of the Analytical Engine; and the Honourable Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace, genius daughter of Lord Byron. Pulling their strings – they believe – are the puppetmasters Talleyrand, French statesman par excellence and now a renegade in English employ; and Sir Percy Blakeney, sometime Scarlet Pimpernel and current head of the British Secret Service.

Meanwhile, the French have been unwise enough to revive their recently deceased Emperor. The intention was simply to pick the brain of history’s foremost military mind. However, the risen Napoleon is developing fresh ambitions of his own… 


In 1830, Victor Frankenstein’s procedures for reanimating the dead have become widely known. Europe is in the grip of a war that cannot end, as soldiers are dragged from the battlefield and reanimated to fight again another day. Neither side can gain ground. Every effort goes to maintain the engine of warfare. In France, a new revolution has occurred more brutal than the last. The ruling council, fanatics of reason, authorize experiments in which men and beasts are stitched together, creating ever more terrible hybrids for the generals to use in battle. The Emperor Napoleon, brought from his grave on St Helena, has been restored to life. His body having partially decayed, he floats inside a glass tank filled with preservative oils brought from Egypt. The revolutionary council consider Napoleon a state asset, an oracle they can consult on how to conduct the war. Napoleon considers himself the rightful Emperor. In Britain, hordes of resurrected war veterans flock to the cities. These are men who have been patched up and reanimated too often. Now they are of no use in battle but they cannot die, so they crawl and beg on the fringes of London’s slums. In places the stench of formaldehyde is overpowering. With the country’s economy weakened by war and disease, and the populace wary and fearful of the “lazarans” in their midst, the authorities maintain a strangling grip on control thanks to the British secret police headed by ruthless Lord Blakeney, the “Bloody Pimpernel”. The Frankenstein technology is unreliable. Restoring life is easy. A man can be made to breathe and speak walk again. But very often it comes at a price – gaps in the memory and a dulling of the intellect, which most count as a blessing. To clearly remember the moment of death would be hard enough. To be considered by others to be a walking, soulless monster and yet to understand your condition and still to feel love for your living family would be too much to bear. Some, like Napoleon, can be restored with their mind intact, but not usually with full vigor. Only a very few are raised from the dead healthy in both mind and body. These lucky accidents are studied by scientists looking to perfect the process, as each side seeks the breakthrough that will turn the war in their favor.


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