Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Freed Sherlock. Safe as houses.

Remember when Conan Doyle killed Sherlock Holmes because he was tired of him?

Didn't care about the money. Didn't care about the success. Didn't care to have Holmes go on.

Killed Sherlock Holmes because he just felt like it.

Even though I was just writing about "Final" tales of Holmes yesterday, I think I still would have thought of that fact today. And appreciated it, along with one more fact.

Sherlock Holmes, with a few minor exceptions, is a free man.

Yes, writers can put him through all sorts of silliness, suffering, or adaptation imperfections, but every single one of those tellings of a tale just adds one more alternate universe to an unlimited multiverse of Holmes-worlds.

None of the will ever affect Holmes-world Prime, the original sixty. With Conan Doyle's death and a popular acceptance of those sixty as The Complete Sherlock Holmes, both in description and Doubleday title, we were given the gift of a finished product, a stable world to be interpreted as each of us will, but not changed for anyone else's free interpretation of those same words.

Sherlock Holmes happened before corporate licensing took hold, before characters were created as "work for hire" and carried forward by a company rather than an individual. And today, seeing what one such company decided to do to one seventy-five-year-old icon just for a sensational moment and a little publicity . . .  well, I'm happy for Sherlock Holmes.

No one is going to make him give up detection in a moment of self-doubt.

No one is going to kill him once and for all.

No one is going to have his evil twin take his place for five years of real time.

No one is going to make Watson leave him after an act of ultimate betrayal.

No one is going to make him turn out to have been Moriarty's agent all along.

Sure, anyone could write a little tale of any of those things but nothing any of us has to even consider if it's Canon, unless we really want to. And even if we want to . . . well, it's just our head canon with a small "c" and up to everybody else to choose as they see fit.

Perhaps its all tom-ay-toes and tom-ah-toes, because stories are stories. And if you want to be one of the jaded cool kids and pretend not to care about this bit or that just to show your superiority to those who do, that's your choice, too. But the thing is, we're all at the table because we care about Sherlock Holmes in some fashion or another.

And for me, today was a good day to appreciate the place that object of our caring is in these days.


  1. Nope. In many cases Sherlock Holmes is now much like Basil Rathbone now, sterotyped, stuck with bad directors and worse scripts. No longer his own man, . . . if he ever was.

    1. The point was that no one bad writer or director has total control of him now. If that was truly the case, I'd have given up on Sherlock after a certain television show decided to do its thing. Always options for us these days.

  2. There are two well known ways to write. Either Holmes is a vehicle for a story that the writer wants to tell and Holmes is what it happens to or Holmes is in the driving seat. Fortunately, nobody owns him but if you are the latter sort of writer Holmes tells you the story, it's less borrowing him and more him borrowing you the writer, if you listen.