So I’ve been on this total Sherlock Holmes and Great Britain kick lately. I’m a total Anglophile, though not so bad that I stayed up for the royal wedding a few months ago. 🙂 At any rate, I got started on this by watching BBC’s new Sherlock series. If you haven’t watched it, Netflix it. Now. I’ll wait.
Done? Fantastic! And so is that show. So sad I don’t get BBC America, but I digress. I’m here to pick up an anthology called The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. This was a collection of short stories featuring the worlds greatest detective as written by fantasy authors. There are well known authors such as Steven King and Neil Gaiman, as well as a bunch of folks I hadn’t heard of.
Arthur Conan Doyle was a spiritualist and as such, he worked some of his beliefs into his Holmes stories, such as The Hound of the Baskervilles, which featured the mystery of a demonic hound. Holmes himself wasn’t a spiritualist and indeed proved the hound to be nothing more than a violently trained dog covered in a phosphoric substance. Inevitably in the Holmes stories, there is always a reasonable and logical explanation.
This anthology was based on the premise: What if there wasn’t a logical explanation? What if some of the things Holmes investigated turned out to be truly inexplicable? Or what if the world Holmes lived in featured the supernatural in every day life. This was a chance to go to town with Holmes.
The book started out promisingly enough with a short by Stephen King. Normally I’m not a Stephen King fan. An ex-boyfriend of mine gave me a collection of King’s short stories, telling me that they were creepy and horrifying. I used them to get to sleep at night. It wasn’t that I didn’t get what King was going for. I did. I just found his writing a bit too trite and predictable for me. I’m the type of person who figured out that Bruce Willis was ghost half way through The Sixth Sense, so the short Trucks didn’t do it for me.
At any rate, Stephen King wrote a refreshingly subtle and original Holmes short. It wasn’t too different than something that Doyle would write I feel (and yes, I have read the original Holmes. All of them. I love them) but with just a little bit of a spiritual twist. I was a feeling better about having spent 15 bucks on the book.
The next story (or perhaps the third, can’t remember the order at the moment) featured a mirror universe. Being a Trek fan, I know that alternate or mirror universes are often used in sci-fi/fantasy stories. I like them because you can see the what if but you can get the original that you love back. Haven’t you ever wondered with an evil Holmes or a good Moriarty would be like? Well, read the book! 😀
I was a little disappointed however by some of the later stories. Some of them didn’t really seem to have anything to do with science fiction or fantasy at all. That’s not to say that they weren’t entertaining or well written, but I was expecting a bit more fantasy in a book I found in the fantasy section of the book store.
All in all it was worth the read. The writing was very well done (B/B+). However, I have to give it an overall rating of C+ simply because there could have been much more fantasy involved in some of these stories. And man, they should have let Jim Butcher have a crack at one of those stories!