Being a Sherlockian these days is a real opportunity.
For those who love things past, we have things like that re-discovered William Gillette film to delight, as well as lesser bits of history being discovered and shared by the network of Holmes fans connected more than ever before.
And for those who love the future, the new, the uncharted territory?
Oh, this is a brave new Sherlockian world indeed.
I've been tentatively dipping a toe into the pool of fan fiction for a few months now, trying this and that, seeing the various levels of skill and interests of the writers, but for the most part observing it as an outsider on an alien world. Sherlock fan fiction, for the most part, was not written for my sort of brain . . . there are triggers meant to be tripped by a lot of it that don't seem to be as developed in my too-male mind. Yet hope springs eternal, as writing, at its core, is always an attempt at one mind to convey its truest thoughts and feelings to another mind, to make that other mind understand.
It's a connection every writer hopes to make, and one every reader delights in.
And after months of looking for that connection -- though I will admit they have not been months fully dedicated to the task -- I hit it. I found a book I couldn't put down. And I found it in the oddest of places . . . the Omegaverse.
One thing I love about the Three Patch Podcast has been its interviews with fanfic writers. Even if I'm not interested in what a particular writer is writing about, hearing them talk about the process can be rewarding in and of itself. This month, however, I found a writer who goes by "BeautifulFiction" striking a particular chord, so I went and checked out her massive, nearly 327,000 word work -- bigger than the largest Harry Potter volume, bigger than any two of the three Lord of the Rings books combined -- on a whim.
I started reading that book, The Gilded Cage by BeautifulFiction, on my computer, but quickly moved to reading it on my phone for portability. And I've been reading it while I do things like brush my teeth, which is one of my tests of any novel for that much desired "can't put it down" quality. I am, I will admit, only three chapters in, but they are very long chapters, the first being a case unto itself, and enough that I have a feel for the thing, and that I'm actually getting what the author is writing.
So lets talk Omegaverse. The Gilded Cage is good science fiction, the sort that doesn't feel the need to dump every detail of the new universe you find yourself in up front, but lets you explore it through the characters and what's going on in their lives. What is going on in their lives? Well, typical John and Sherlock and Inspector Lestrade stuff, just like you're watching BBC Sherlock. But underneath that, hidden like a secret held by one of those three main characters, is an overlay of a reality that makes this a science fiction tale and not a flat-out Sherlock mystery.
I don't want to spoil much, just in case you're as much a newbie as me and wanting to explore this tale on your own, but here's where BeautifulFiction is getting it right: Part of the fantasy of Omegaverse rules is rebuilding human sexuality to create new ways for two men to have crazy sex with each other and actually get pregnant, and it gets used a lot for porn, as I understand it. (Total newb taling here, forgive me if I over-generalize or mis-state.) But The Gilded Cage is written so well that it uses that mechanic to explore the relationship between Sherlock and John without diving into sex right away. Like any good book, it holds back on the big impacts, letting tension build. BeautifulFiction takes even that a step further . . . she uses Alphas and Omegas in a way that can communicate to even a male like myself aspects of what it is to be female.
Sure, it's a science fiction world and the role of the Omega is an extreme caricature (well, I hope) of female cultural roles, but it's there's more than just a gay male love story going on here. It's the sort of work that makes you think about your own life and world while walking your mind through a fantastic fictional one.
From everything I'd heard about Omegaverse, from podcasts, at cons, I had pretty much assumed it was a girls-only club. Something I'd never really get simply because I'm not really into guy-on-guy romantic entanglements. But a good writer . . . and BeautifulFiction started well and seems to be growing even as the chapters move along . . . can take you out of your personal headspace and move you closer to theirs. And that is what I'm getting out of The Guilded Cage: Something new.
Like I said, being a Sherlockian these days is a real opportunity. Everything in it might not appeal to you, but it's big enough, diverse enough, and so full of fascinating stuff that something out there is apt to capture your interest.
And you just never know when that might come along. Even in the Omegaverse.