By Mary Fan
When Russ first invited me to participate in the Love, Murder & Mayhem anthology for Crazy 8 Press, I was in the middle of publishing a Sherlock Holmes retelling, The Adventure of the Silicon Beeches, that takes place in the space opera future and reimagines both Sherlock and Watson as young women.
I could get on my feminist soapbox as to why I gender-swapped both roles, but I’ll save that speech for a Tweetstorm (or not… diatribes are so time-consuming, and I have fiction to write…)
Anyway, I’d written the Adventure of the Silicon Beeches as a standalone novella, but had so much fun that I decided I’d follow the Sherlockian tradition of writing multiple little mysteries starring the crime-solving duo. So when I first saw the prompt for Love, Murder & Mayhem, my mind immediately went, “Perfect! I’ll have Sherlock and Watson solve a murder mystery!”
The obvious thing to do would have been to introduce a deadly crime of passion and have the girls chase down the brokenhearted culprit. But that sounded cliché before I even started hammering out a plot. So I considered how far I could stretch the prompt and wrote to Russ asking, “Hey, does it have to be romantic love?”
Every retelling of Sherlock Holmes requires a close bond between the detective and his lifelong best friend, one that definitely qualifies as love whether it’s portrayed as platonic (most traditional retellings), romantic (the subject of a million slash fics), or somewhere in between.
In my reimagining, Watson is a young engineer named Chevonne who rescued Sherlock, a sentient AI modeled after a human woman who was discarded by her creators, from a scrap pile. I chose to keep their relationship platonic—as best friends and sisters-in-crime (or crime-solving)—though close to an almost co-dependent extent.
I was also determined not to have Chevonne be a passive narrator or a sidekick. And then it hit me—what if I turned tradition on its head and had Watson solve the mystery for a change? And to get Sherlock out of the way but keep her in the picture—what if she were the victim?
There’s even precedent of sorts in the Sherlockian canon—His Last Bow throws the detective off a cliff to his apparent death. In my story, “The Note on the Blue Screen”, what if Watson had to figure out what had happened and finish what Sherlock had started? What if getting involved put Watson in the bad guy’s crosshairs?
Boom: Love, Murder & Mayhem.
Mary Fan is the author of several sci-fi/fantasy books about intrepid heroines, most recently Starswept, a YA sci-fi romance about classical music and telepathic aliens. She is also the author of the Jane Colt space opera/cyberpunk trilogy, the Firedragon YA dystopia/fantasy novellas, and the Fated Stars YA high fantasy novellas. In addition, she is the co-editor of the Brave New Girls sci-fi anthologies about girls in science and engineering, proceeds of which are donated to the Society of Women Engineers scholarship fund. Chevonne and Sherlock also appear in Brave New Girls: Stories of Girls Who Science and Scene and the standalone novella The Adventure of the Silicon Beeches.
Find Mary online at www.MaryFan.com.