Sunday, March 20, 2022

The Monstrum Opus of Sherlock Holmes

 Do we need yet another collection of Sherlockian stuff?

Well, I'd say that depends. Depends upon the writers. Depends upon the subject. And it depends upon who's collecting. And even then . . . you have to wonder, right?

Yeah, me too.

But then somebody starts saying the right words. "Essays, instead of stories."  I like essays. I like articles. I like Sherlockians explaining how there were things in those sixty stories that we didn't see, despite the obvious clues being there. For some reason I've always found that more headcanon-expanding than pastiche, which is more of a tour of someone else's headcanon. Good for one kind of enjoyment, but I like seeing if someone can twist my own headcanon.

So when Rob Nunn said he wanted an assist in doing a collection of essays on the monsters hidden in the original Holmes Canon, I forgot for a moment that I'm a writer and not an editor, and went, "Okay." And now we already have a goodly number of writers already lined up with a monster and a Canonical story attached to their monster, and The Monstrum Opus of Sherlock Holmes is underway.

But Rob and I weren't sure who all to ask to write an article about a monster in the life of Sherlock Holmes. It's hard to say what anyone's view of that combo would be. And we don't know everyone. So we're opening up the invitation list, to see if anyone else out there might like to join in the mad monster party. We'll be publishing it through Amazon's little publishing arm, with any profits going to the Beacon Society helping teachers out with their lit programs. There are only a couple of rules:

No ghosts need apply, as our hero flatly stated.  (Also, not monsters.) Second, no vampires, as Holmes seemed to make a special point that those weren't real. Like the Batman, the sometime-batty monsters have been a bit over-exposed. The werewolf was checked off our list before a single writer was asked, thanks to a certain presentation that put the thought in Rob's head. So what's left?

Maybe Martha the bee-woman from "His Last Bow?"

A living voodoo doll from "Wisteria Lodge?"

A shape-shifting step-father from "A Case of Identity?"

"Black Peter" really being a were-whale?

Nobody picked any of those, nor any of my other suggestions (hey, they asked). And some of the writers who have jumped in thus far went even more imaginative than those. So many monsters out there!

Interested in contributing one of your own to our Monstrum Opus? Rob and I would love to hear from you. As I said, essays, not fiction. And we're very probably not moving from our "no ghosts, no vampires"  position, because . . . well, the former was Conan Doyle's turf, not Holmes's. And as much as I truly love vampires -- well, that's kind of the problem isn't it? They're just a little too sexy and lovable these days. 

But I digress. (And we won't even get into how the thought of the song "Monster" by InVader just triggered a vision of Stapleton and butterfly aliens. Monsters can be anything. And so many things.)

Seeing monsters in the Canon Holmes? Let us know.


  1. Interesting! I can't wait to read the results.

  2. Did I ever tell you my 'discovery' concerning 'The Giant Rat of Sumatra'? In a nutshell - Watson mentions it in SUSS, in 1896, as an earlier event - though this is not revealed until 1924. Eight years later, 1904, friend H G. Wells relates 'The Food of the Gods, which happened years earlier in the last century. Chapter 3 is titled (I believe on purpose) The Giant Rats. The size given, 6x its linear dimensions, gives us a rat(s) 8 to 10 feet long. I believe Watson related this then to suggest the case happened abroad, and I doubt there was a 'Matilda Briggs.' Supposedly this case was 'before Watson's time.' If so, why the cover-up? Wells reported 'what could be if...' AFTER learning the tale of a tail from Watson.

  3. I'm considering the Five Orange Pips case, that the Lone Star might have been attacked by a kraken/hafgufa of Norwegian legend - perhaps summoned by Holmes himself to avenge the death of John Openshaw?