27 December, 2012

I Love Short Stories

John Joseph Adams, ed.

A collection of Sherlock Holmes stories by people other than Conan Doyle which does not, quite, live up to the expectations raised by the title and conception of the collection. One is lead to believe, both by the title and by the blurb on the back cover, that these are stories which will have some connexion with the unexplained, with superstition, with the paranormal; and some of them do, though not as many as i would have expected in an anthology of over two dozen stories. This is not to say that i did not enjoy the book, or that the stories are of a poor quality; merely that the organising principle seems not to have been chosen as carefully, or maybe logically, as possible. In fact, i did enjoy the book; many of the stories are good; a couple of them excellent, of the highest quality possible, both as Holmes stories and as short stories in themselves.

In particular, i refer to one by Naomi Novik which, written from the perspective of Irene Adler, posits a theory about Holmes and Watson and gives an excellent suggestion as to why the former kept from the latter his survival at Reichenback Falls for so long; i have not read anything by Novik previously, but on the basis of this story i am quite happy to trace what else she has written and give it a try.

I also am referring to a story by Neil Gaiman, whose name i have come across but whose works not, which is a superb alternate reality retelling of the first novel, A Study in Scarlet. It is interesting how many authors have found themselves compelled to continue the adventures of Holmes and, usually, Watson over the past century; i cannot think of another character in fiction who has attracted so much attention from people not the original author. 

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