Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Philip Jose Farmer we did not see on Sherlock Holmes

I was perusing a local used book store Saturday and looking appreciatively at their selections from Peoria's local science fiction great, Philip Jose Farmer. Even though his name might not be as well known among the younger generations, his popular Riverworld series made the best-seller lists and even had an attempt at a TV series. For the Sherlockian, his The Adventure of the Peerless Peer is a nice little addition to the collection. First teaming Holmes up with Tarzan, and later, when the Burroughs estate ruled otherwise, rewritten with Mowgli as "The Adventure of the Three Madmen."

Sherlock Holmes, as Farmer wrote him, was that classic elder Sherlock of pre-Cumberbatch times. Farmer, it should be noted, did not think to write of Sherlock Holmes as a sexual being. This might not seem like an odd thing to most, as so many authors of the last century left Holmes mostly asexual. But Philip Jose Farmer? Did you ever read what he did with his two favorite younger heroes, Tarzan and Doc Savage?

It's been a while, and full details escape me, except for a particular pair of steel fangs and a slaver who liked jungle men a little too much, but if you know the full length and breadth of Philip Jose Farmer's works, you know that even fifty years ago, he was getting stuff in print that would do any modern writer of fanfic proud with its level of sexual detail and kink. He even did name-changed clones of his favorite pulp heroes to get them a little lusty adventures of the flesh.

But not Sherlock Holmes.

Had Phil Farmer still be writing when Benedict Cumberbatch showed us that Sherlock Holmes could still be a young and oddly-sort-of virile chap, one wonders where he might have gone with one of his favorite heroes along those lines. Not that there's any void of that sort of thing at the moment, needing to be filled, but still, a Peorian who spent his college years soaking in Farmer's works has to wonder what stories the author might have told.

Would Sherlock have appeared in A Feast Unknown, with his own clone to match those of Tarzan and Doc Savage? (Lord Grandrith and Doc Caliban) Or might he have struck out on his own dark sexual adventures, turning his acute senses and focus to pleasures of the flesh? One thing is for certain -- given the freedom writers now have with Holmes, and Philip Jose Farmer's love of playing in other authors' toy boxes, I think we would have seem something more than an older John Watson getting a little randy about a jungle girl in The Adventure of the Peerless Peer. ("The older the buck, the stiffer the horn," to quote Farmer's Watson.)

But the era of Philip Jose Farmer is long over, and we've got many a new writer to try their hand at exploring Holmes's bedroom potential . . . many a newer writer, he wrote, heading back to his fanfiction marathon.

No comments:

Post a Comment