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Can Anyone Write A Sherlock Holmes Story

author
Bob Roberts
• Tuesday, 26 January, 2021
• 8 min read

If it “does literature a great disservice” to carve off bits of it, then how does that not apply to, say, the film version of 12 Years a Slave, which is (inevitably) quite selective in its use of its (public domain) source material? I certainly wish that Brian Amarillo had never gotten his clammy oven mitts on Wonder Woman, and that DC Comics hadn't decided to make a mess of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's Watchmen.

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Contents

(For examples of this line of argument, just scroll down through the comments in this National Post story about the legal battle over Sherlock Holmes.) Tom Stoppard, for instance, took two minor characters from Hamlet and put them at the center of his play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in order to contrast major tragedies with minor ones, and think about the way even stories in the margins can matter.

Similarly, in Longhorn, Jo Baker retold Pride and Prejudice from the perspective of the Bennet family servants in order to think about the way that class erases some people's stories. Numerous fan-fiction stories take characters like (ahem) Holmes and Watson and put them in homosexual relationships, revealing and reveling in erotic tensions denied or buried in the original work.

Along the same lines, Alan Moore and Melinda Debbie's Lost Girls turned Wendy of Peter Pan, Dorothy of The Wizard of Oz, and Alice of Alice in Wonderland into rutting bisexual fantasies in a pornographic fever dream. Rick Riordan's massively popular Percy Jackson series makes extensive use of Greek mythology, including appearances by Hera, Zeus, Poseidon, and numerous other figures who, of course, are carved off from their original context.

Noah Blavatsky edits the online comics-and-culture website The Hooded Utilitarian and is the author of the book Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Mars ton/Peter Comics, 1941-48. A classic character solving ingenious crimes from the heights of aristocracy to depths of the criminal underworld.

Despite the murders and burglaries being anything but formulaic, there’s a certain structure to Holmes investigations that we can learn from as writers. This structure makes a great basis for writing our own short stories with new detectives.

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It doesn’t matter what the crime is, if your detective is as dull as dishwater, no one will want to read it. Sherlock Holmes is notable for his skills of deduction and his encyclopedic knowledge of everything from train timetables to curare.

At the same time, he’s arrogant, a poor communicator and a terrible violin player. Whether that’s the cynical fast talk of the hard boiled gumshoe or the dilettante fun of Phone Fisher, they need to have a unique way on solving crimes.

Private discussion with offside. The investigationInvestigation at the location of the crime, often in disguise or under false pretences. If you are writing a longer story, such as a novel, the investigation and confrontation steps would be repeated with multiple clues and characters until reaching the solution to the crime.

I’d be remiss in not mentioning Watson, Sherlock Holmes perpetual offside and the narrator for most Holmes adventures. Sherlock Holmes stories have often hilarious or chilling characters from all facets of London.

Professor Moriarty Irene Adler Mycroft Holmes Mrs Hudson Inspector Lestrade Even the side characters have their own motivations and quirky personalities in the Sherlock Holmes universe.

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Near the end of each story, Holmes ultimately takes decisive (and often risky) action that cracks the case. Furthermore, Holmes inevitably would have been calling attention to his own intelligence, thus appearing insufferably conceited and hence unappealing to the reader.

The narrator could have maintained suspense by keeping the revelations to the dénouement, say with Holmes explaining his thinking to his professional colleagues at Scotland Yard or by writing it up in a diary. By establishing a dialogue between Holmes, the guru, and Watson, the thoughtful follower, Doyle, wisely, put himself completely in the background.

You may not, however, freely describe Dr Watson's own athletic background, the juicy fact of his second marriage or the circumstances of Holmes's retirement. A US district court in Illinois found itself wading into the details of the fictional detective's imaginary life this week in a copyright ruling on a forthcoming collection of original short stories featuring Holmes characters.

An editor of the new book, In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, asked the court in effect to enlarge the elements of the Holmes story that are in the public domain. Details from the last ten stories could still be subject to copyright claims by Conan Doyle's descendants, Judge Rubén Castillo ruled on Monday, in a decision that went unnoticed until Friday.

Castillo cited a 1989 case in which CBS corporation tried to stop a Broadway adaptation featuring Amos 'n' Andy, the central characters of a wildly popular radio program that debuted in 1928. Whether it’s a reimagining in modern dress (like the BBC’s Sherlock or CBS-TV’s Elementary), vigorous interpretations like the Warner Bros fine Sherlock Holmes films, or new stories by countless authors inspired by the characters, people want to celebrate Holmes and Watson.

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Linger sought a declaration in the case after his publisher, Pegasus, delayed his book's release pursuant to a legal threat by the Conan Doyle estate. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who died in 1930, introduced Holmes in A Study in Scarlet, which was first published in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887 and released in the United States in 1890.

I remember the spring morning, the sun angled into the room over the breakfast table highlighting dust and smoke. The window was open just a crack and cool fresh air woke me and guided me to sit with my tea, eggs, ham and mushrooms.

1 Holmes likens his mind to an attic, one he can only fill with the rights kinds of “furniture” necessary for his occupation as the world's first consulting detective. For the uninitiated, Sherlock Holmes, and his biographer Dr. John Watson, inhabited 4 novels and 56 short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle between from the years 1887 to 1927.

During this time, Holmes dies and comes back, faces a variety of criminals, schemes, and ghoulish mysteries as well as making a nuisance of himself to Inspector Lestrade and the rest of Scotland Yard. Essentially, Holmes believes any mystery can be approached, and a solution deduced, scientifically, by gathering necessary data, and drawing conclusions based on logic and reason.

3 In the Granada Television adaptation of the same story, after the hypothesis is proven true Holmes (as portrayed by the late Jeremy Brett) grins broadly and shouts “Imagination Watson! 5 Meyer of course, put some memorable Holmes quips into the mouth of another urological yet compassionate man: Star Trek's Mr. Spock.

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Doyle himself created Professor Challenger, a character who is much more of a true scientist than Holmes, for the classic science fiction novel, The Lost World. Five-time Hugo Award winner Mike Re snick asserts that Sherlock Holmes appeals to fans and writers of science fiction because, “He is cerebral rather than physical.

In 1995, along with Martin H. Greenberg, Mike Re snick edited an anthology of science fiction themed Holmes stories called Sherlock Holmes in Orbit. (Many of these stories are also re-printed in the recent John Joseph Adams book) With names like David Jerrold, Kristine Kathryn Rush, Vonda M. McIntyre, Robert J. Sawyer, and Dean Wesley Smith, this collection is brimming with talent.

In Dean Wesley Smith's “Two Roads, No Choices”, Holmes and Watson are visited by two time travelers coming from a future in which the Titanic did not sink. Because Holmes and Watson are living in this alternate reality, they have no reason to believe the Titanic was supposed to have sunk, and yet the time travelers are desperate for help in unraveling the puzzle.

In this story, the duo is even outfitted with cybernetic implants which allow them to “scan” documents rapidly, and download the information cyberpunk style, directly into their brains. In “Second Fiddle” by Kristine Kathryn Rush, Holmes is brought to a contemporary Los Angeles to assist the police department in tracking down a serial killer.

Knowledge of cigar ash, bicycle tracks, and certain kinds of footprints hardly matter in this modern setting. Nicholas Meyer believes because “the Holmes stories deal with the variety of human experience... people would probably be coming to him for advice if he were living now.

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“5 Meyer famously had Sherlock cross paths with Sigmund Freud in his novel The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, so it makes sense he would think of Holmes in a psychoanalytical way. In Susan Casper's Holmes Ex Machine”, the detective is reconstructed as a holographic computer program and assists in solving a minor mystery relating to missing film canisters.

In “Moriarty by Modem” by Jack Nimershein, another complex computer program is created to emulate the thought patterns and theories of Sherlock Holmes. In this chilling tale, Lovecraft meets Conan Doyle as Gaiman imagines and alternate Victorian London ruled by the infamous many-tentacled Cthulhu.

As in the plot of A Study in Scarlet, Holmes and Watson have just become flat mates, and though perfect strangers to each other are rapidly thrust into their inaugural adventure. Gaiman toys with the notion of Holmes himself being aware of the existence of alternate realities but believing that destiny would bring him in contact with Watson regardless.

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Sources
1 www.storybookranch.org - http://www.storybookranch.org/Petting_Zoo.html
2 www.king5.com - https://www.king5.com/article/life/animals/debbie-dolittle-animal-experience-tacoma-indoor-petting-zoo-covid-19/281-9dfe9521-7cc6-4651-8c20-07166de15195
3 www.goodreads.com - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8045363-the-petting-zoo