Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Omegaverse fiction of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Watsonian was kind enough to publish a talk I gave this summer in their latest issue, the Fall 2018 number. The article follows my evolution of thought regarding John H. Watson, his marriages, his discontinuities, and, eventually, his existences in a multiverse that Conan Doyle portrayed more than one universe from in the original Canon of sixty stories.

There was, of course, one universe where the dates line up perfectly with our own history. But there's another universe where our Tuesday was on their Friday. And another where our Tuesdays are their Saturdays. One where Sherlock didn't take a hiatus after Reichenbach (the "Wisteria Lodge" universe), one where Irene Adler lived past 1891, and one where she didn't. The details of the original Conan Doyle Canon are ample proof that what we've long thought of as one universe were actually many.

And since my reading travels have just yesterday taken me to darkest_bird's A Fold in the Universe, a tale of the John Watson of two parallel Earths . . . one of which is an Omegaverse . . . I couldn't help but wonder if the many universes contained in the Doyle Canon didn't contain at least one adventure that came to Doyle from an Omegaverse Holmes and Watson. Doyle, of course, transcribing what mental images and thoughts he could get from that other place, would filter them through an XY/XX Victorian mind and get the sort of story he expected in a world like our own.

John Watson, one will recall, rarely left Baker Street in those early days there, usually thought to be recovering from a weakened constitution left him by the ravages of war in a foreign land. But what if Doyle had transferred those reasons to a different sort of house-kept Watson, an Omega Watson, to whom a particular adventure had occurred? Could one find a tale in the original sixty that shows all the possibilities of being one drawn from a six-gendered world?

"The Five Orange Pips" takes place entirely at Baker Street, from Watson's point of view. While it's true, there are little fill-in details about Watson's wife or practice around the edges, there is also that remnant of a page reading "sent the pips to A, B, and C" . . . and have you ever noticed how much a "C" is just an incomplete "O"?

This is all surely making little sense to anyone unfamiliar with the genre, but as we look at Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson with new lenses and new angles in our study of them, the possibility of one of Doyle's tales being a hidden Omegaverse case is a fun little bit of mental exercise.  For the mind that likes to play, all the modern threads of our hobby are a gift from the gods, and an "open world" greater than that of any video game. There's so much fun to be had there that opening yourself up to some new possibilities, like alternative readings no Irregular of the 1930s every conceived of, can just bring a smile to your face.

And the potential of a straight line like "There are a few of us who frequent the Alpha Inn . . ." well, there's gold in them thar hills!

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