Wednesday, September 18, 2019


"There's a scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it."
-- Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet

Okay, calm down, ya sillies. I'm not going to write about Sherlock Holmes exposing every inch of it. This post is about tangled skeins.

Sherlock Holmes loved his tangled skein metaphors. He uses it in at least three cases, and even gets Watson following his lead to use it in another. A skein bundling up a bunch of yarn or thread, with a particular colored strand to follow through it, pulling out piece by piece, untangling it where necessary . . . it's a great metaphor for an investigation.

It's also a great metaphor for how one has to approach Sherlockiana as a whole.

So much has been written about Sherlock Holmes at this point that one could pinball from book to book, article to article, website to website, etc., all the live-long day. One could rocket from Doylean biographical detail to omegaverse fic to Sherlock showing you how to play bridge to limericks to statistical analysis of Sherlockians, and onwards. No two topics alike, going from new writer to new writer and never looking back, one can follow the tangled skein that is Sherlockiana all over the place without rhyme or reason.

And yet we all pick our threads to follow.

You might try to read all the old standards of Sherlockian scholarship. You might work through a curated stack of Holmes/Watson romance novels. You might seek out the untold cases that Watson mentioned in the original Canon and never wrote.  Or you might pick any one, five or ten of all the fine writers in this hobby and start to pick up all of their work.

So many ways to find your way through this skein, but inevitably, we all find our favorite threads. We have to. There are so many facets to Sherlock Holmes, none of which is a simple one-and-done that even the most exploration-based among us find ourselves diving deep into the skein to see where a thread of interest will take us.

Just like Sherlock Holmes liked to do. Sherlockiana follows the lead of its hero so often that this hobby of ours just makes perfect sense sometimes, doesn't it?

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