3. – A Study in Emerald
Now we find ourselves with a short story set in a nonexistent past, but not of the past (real or imagined) – the story is almost a decade old (it won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 2004) but it is a piece of the modern, internet world. You can call it a form of fan-fiction. As a matter of fact, it is a Crossover – the characters and style from Sherlock Holmes have been transplanted into the world of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.
Not only that… it is a world of alternate history. In it, 700 years prior, Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones have… well, if you want to know what they have done, you have to read the thing.
Finally, it is in a unique and modern form. It’s published on the ‘net as a PDF – in the format of a Victorian Newspaper, complete with odd and disturbing advertisements. Take a close look at the ads, BTW, they are full of interesting references.
Clever and cleverer. The short piece manages to cram a lot of (alternate) history and backstory in and around its detective yarn.
Be careful about that yarn… you are forewarned. Nobody is who you think they are. Black is white and white is black. See if you can figure it out. If you can’t, the Wikipedia Page will illuminate it all for you.
So it is all clever and as skillfully put together as a Swiss Watch… but it is worth reading? Of course it is. It is a lot of fun. It is a puzzle inside a puzzle, wrapped in a puzzle. It is a pastiche. It is a homage. It is the sort of think you will like, especially if you like that sort of thing.
I shall not forget the mirrored surface of the underground lake, nor the thing that emerged from the lake, its eyes opening and closing, and the singing whispers that accompanied it as it rose, wreathing their way about it like the buzzing of flies bigger than worlds.
That I survived was a miracle, but survive I did, and I returned to England with my nerves in shreds and tatters. The place that leech-like mouth had touched me was tattooed forever, frog-white, into the skin of my now-withered shoulder. I had once been a crack-shot. Now I had nothing, save a fear of the world-beneath-the-world akin to panic which meant I would gladly pay sixpence of my army pension for a Hansom cab, rather than a penny to travel underground.
—-from A Study in Emerald, by Neil Gaiman