Saturday, August 6, 2016

He's baaaack...

And, here comes the anticipated second volume in Mocha's paranormal exploits of the great Sherlock Holmes:  "Curious Incidents: More Improbable Adventures."

I was very happy to hear about this one and have eagerly started work on my submission, which is about half written.  I did find the idea of putting Holmes into alien realms distant from his familiar Victorian environment a bit of a challenge.  The atmosphere of 19th century London in many ways seems part of the appeal and workings of Conan Doyle's immortal sleuth.  But, as the saying goes, you can take the man out of the fog but you can't...well, you know.

As a science fiction writer, I have to design characters whose personal qualities, psychology and backstory justify the way they act and react in the hypothetical world in which they exist.  But, they're a part of that world, and it a part of them.  Transplanting someone else's character into worlds of your own creation is much more of a stretch.

Especially a character like Holmes, who everyone knows, who has familiar characteristics and personal qualities that are well established and must be honored.  So, determining how Sherlock (and, Watson, for that matter) would react to being ripped from their familiar surroundings and thrust into not only unfamiliar but largely incomprehensible events and environments requires careful analysis of the characters.  Like any characters, they are shaped by the culture and conditions of their native era and once displaced from it would have to adapt not only to alien viewpoints and mindsets, but to knowledge that might upset their self-defining world views.

As the POV character, Watson provides the emotional appeal of confusion and distress, his limited 19th century scientific knowledge and Victorian sensibilities placed hopelessly out of their depth.  Holmes is always the anchor point because his defining strength has always lain in his ability to extrapolate the truth through logical deduction based on the available facts.  In theory, a truth, no matter how outlandish can so be determined through pure intellect.  In practice, of course, it's not usually that easy, since the cultural prejudices and assumptions of the observer can cloud his interpretations of the facts in ways even he doesn't suspect.  But, the investigative prowess of Sherlock Holmes has in many ways always depended on his cold, purely detached outlook on life.  Since he has little or no visible emotional attachment to the world around him, he can more easily adapt to new and unfamiliar landscapes, since the rules of logical deduction are universal.

The one thing that seems to get Sherlock Holmes fired up is the intellectual challenge of an unusual and intriguing case.  For the writer, coming up with appropriate challenges for him in which he can survive worlds of limitless boundaries and yet remain the one and only Sherlock Holmes is the puzzle that needs solving.

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