Monday, February 24, 2014

The Case Of The C'Thulhu Creator!

I stumbled across this peculiar piece of fan fiction as part of a slightly larger volume called The Lovecraft Papers which includes Pulptime, a novel featuring Sherlock Holmes teaming up with H.P.Lovecraft as told by Frank Belknap Long Jr. as well as some shorter tales of P.G.Wodehouse's Jeeves if the latter were involved in some of Lovecraft's more famous mysteries.

So far I've only read Pulptime and sadly I must report it was a bit of a trudge to finish. The central conceit is an attractive one as it seemingly involves the great Detective in the cosmic horror of Lovecraft in a most direct way, save that the author here, P.H. Cannon, doesn't decide to do any of that. We are instead presented with a very old Sherlock Holmes acting sometimes wildly out of character visiting New York City to pursue a case of smuggling and ends up down the hall from Lovecraft and his visiting friend Long. They get meshed up into a slight mystery which leads to encounters with Houdini and assorted other small celebrities of the time which seem of interest to Cannon.

All things considered it's a pretty slow boil as the mystery really doesn't come to much and most of the time  Long, who functions as something of a Watson narrator type for the tale, talks about the relationship between Lovecraft and Holmes and what everyone is wearing at that moment. For diehard fans immersed in the tiny details of Lovecraft's career, there are bon mots here and there, but rarely does the story really get up any steam.

One thing that hurts is that Sherlock Holmes is almost unrecognizable, rarely indulging in his classic deductions and spending most of his time commenting on his two young friends. And that's the heart of why I don't think this story works, and that's I cannot imagine Sherlock Holmes ever finding H.P.Lovecraft a bosom buddy, in fact the opposite would seem indicated to me. Cannon seems to think since they were both eccentric that proves sufficient, but Holmes to my mind would find Lovecraft's stuffy manner and high minded opinions nauseating, and likewise I suspect Lovecraft would find Holmes a tradesman type, beneath him despite his intellect. I don't see the two working together at all.

The core problem is Cannon allows himself to indulge his fanboy interests and becomes mired in insignificant details at the cost of his larger narrative, a fatal mistake which fails to serve any of the characters real and fictional at all well.

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