Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Sherlock Everywhere And Everything And Everybody Holmes

Hola readers!  How are you all doing this week?  Ready for a rambling?  Cool.  Today I'm gonna ramble about The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes a short story collection edited by John Joseph Adams, a favorite of mine in the short story world.  This collection features stories about my favorite detective set in every style of writing you can imagine.  We've got fantasy, we've got scifi. we've got traditional, we've got alternate history, alternate reality and any and all mix of the above that one can imagine.  I would thing that this would cause the collection to be a mess, but the editor once again manages to get a sort of flow to the whole thing.  Here are some of my favorites out of the many many amazing stories within this book.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
The Doctor's Case by Stephen King - This story, besides reminding me how much I like Stephen King in short story form is the perfect tale to set off the collection.  Here we have a fairly straight forward Holmsian tale...but solved by Watson, who has begun to think like the famous detective after so much time spent in his company.  This story makes me smile every time I read it, I just really love every word of it.

The Adventure of the Other Detective by Bradley H. Sinor - We go off the traditional track a bit in this alternate reality story.  Dr. Watson stumbles quit by accident into a world where Moriarty is the good guy, chasing down the notorious Sherlock Holmes.  Watching Watson try and work out this world that feels turned topsy turvey, all the while seeing where it would make sense to have a place where the two master minds switch places makes one want to go back and reread a couple of the original stories.  I love how the author dealt with both worlds, and the eventual acceptance of all parties of situation.

The Adventure of the Field Theorems by Vonda N. McIntyre - The author of this story get's a bit meta on us, introducing Conan Doyle (the original Holmes author) as a character.  The author uses the well known, and slightly odd fact that Sir Doyle, while writing the coldly logical Sherlock Holmes, was actually an avid Spiritualist who was more then willing to believe anything.  This story capitalizes on this fact with a mystery set in the fields in the form of crop circles and possibly aliens.  It is hard to describe the appeal of this story other then to compare it to an almost X-files style story with the added bonus of making me want to study Conan Doyle.

Dynamics of a Hanging by Tony Pi- Another Moriarty story, and again going meta with the inclusion of authors as characters.  This time the focus is on Moriarty's early years and the discovery of an almost impossible cipher.  I think what I really liked about this story was the duel focus on music and math as a way to write a code.  It also inspired me to go find some awesome cipher's to brush up on my code breaking.

The Specter of Tullyfane Abbey by Peter Tremayne - Here we get a glimpse of Holmes younger days.  He is portrayed as a smart young man, perhaps lacking the cold logic of his older self, but brilliant none the less.  He investigates a mystery at an old friends house with the hopes of gaining the friend's sisters affection.  This turns out to be hopeless as she is engaged to a wealthy man.  Holmes does his best to solve the case, but eventually sums it up to "darker powers"  which is not the Holmes we know.  Watson however figures out what young Holmes cannot admit to himself, giving us a satisfying conclusion.

The Adventure of the Lost World by Dominic Green - Sherlock Holmes and Dinosaurs...need I say more?

The Adventure of the Pirates of Devil's Cape - Pirates!  I love pirates!  This tale takes us to the sultry swamps of New Orleans, introducing our proper London gents to the sweat and swizzle of the Big Easy.  I like this story 'cause it has just the right amount of swashbuckling, a handful of Holmsian logic and just a smidge of potential super natural.  Also there is an albino alligator, Siamese twins and bit of awesome swordplay.

A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman - Another author whose short stories make me happy.  This tale is in a weird way the most traditional, yet most twisted tale in the collection.  We get a new take on a very traditional case...but in this one we get a Cthulhu alien royalty, an alternate reality and a twist ending that makes one want to go reread the story over to get every nuance.  I think that this story really sums up what the editor wanted this collection to be.  A very good entry to a very good collection.
These are just a few of the numerous and varied stories in this collection.  A few thoughts on the book as a whole.  I found an interesting pervalance of  Moriarty, Irene Adler and oddly enough H.P. Lovecraft style monsters making numerous appearances.  I noted that Watson was the most popular narration and that the authors usually used either the name of a case that was mentioned but not told in the original stories, or a twist on the title of the original stories.  I found that it took me some time to get through this book, mostly because every story had the basic element of a Holmes mystery so I had to take time to digest and think through every story as I read it...and a few I had to read twice.  Overall I loved the weird combination of the tried and true and creativity that was present in EVERY story.  I will be reading most of the stories in this collection again and recommend it to anybody who loves Holmes and just about any other genre of books.  I give it 8 out of 10 deer stalking hats.  Happy Reading Everybody!

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