When has Sherlock Holmes changed so much that he’s no longer Sherlock Holmes? In this aptly titled collection, 13 new adventures of Holmes and Watson, more or less, push the envelope far beyond Baker Street.
Not surprisingly, fantasy mavens Ventrella and Maberry (who alone published Kill Switch, 2016, etc.) have one and a half eyes out for outlandish, often futuristic incarnations of Holmes, and so do their contributors. Jody Lynn Nye’s Holmes is a doglike alien “a bit addicted to shag”—carpet, that is. Jim Avelli posits a dystopian world in which Holmes is arrested for shooting his ex-wife, Irene Adler. Martin Rose presents a robotic Holmes, a failure as a medical surgeon, who gets a new lease on nonlife as a nosy detective. Editor Maberry’s reimagining of Holmes as Mother Frey, who investigates miracles for the church, drives perhaps the deepest into fantasy territory. Meanwhile, back in the past, Austin Farmer puts Holmes and Watson to work as violinists in Beethoven’s orchestra. In the present, Gail Z. Markus reinvents Sherlock as Shelley Holmes, a transgender Charleston sleuth who works for store credit at an antiques shop; Hildy Silverman reveals that Holmes and Watson (and Irene and Godfrey Norton) are vampires; Heidi McLaughlin makes Holmes an insecure college coed whose first case leads to her first kiss; Mike Struss imagines Holmes as a particularly annoying reality show host; and Ryk Spoor dramatizes Holmes and Watson’s painful awakening to their status as fictional characters. In the three most successful stories, Beth W. Patterson makes Holmes an unusually reflective parrot, David Gerrold festoons his cyber-Holmes and -Watson with some hilarious acronyms, and Keith R.A. DeCandido scores with a surprisingly faithful update of one of Conan Doyle’s most treasured tales.
Less notable as independent creations than as provocations to think about Holmes and the Sacred Canon in innovative ways bound to lead to next year’s anthologies.