Monday, 10 April 2017

Times Three

Within Poul Anderson's fictional multiverse, Sherlock Holmes exists in at least three universes, the timelines of:

the Time Patrol;
the Rustum future history;
"The Word to Space."

The Holmes who visits the Old Phoenix might be one of these three or might instead come from a fourth universe. I thought that Eric Sherrinford, emigrant from Beowulf to Roland in the Rustum timeline, was a direct descendant of Holmes. However, Sean pointed out in the combox here that Sherrinford's family claimed "collateral" descent from an early inquiry agent, which could mean direct descent from Mycroft. "...collateral descent from..." sounds contradictory. The descent is not from Sherlock if "collateral" means that Sherlock and Sherrinford had common ancestors.

Sherrinford is not sure whether the claimed descent is true but, in any case, has modelled himself on the Great Detective. This is clear to the reader even before Sherrinford confirms it. Thus, "The Queen Of Air And Darkness" counts as a Holmesian work. Why does Sherrinford also say that his family's tradition of detective or police work might come from its Cherokee side?

This "collateral descent" business strengthens the symmetry of Anderson's Holmesian references:

two appearances by Holmes and Watson;
one descendant each of Mycroft (?) and Moriarty;
two alien counterparts of Holmes.

In The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Alan Moore plays with Holmes, Bond and other literary references. Mina Harker thinks that Campion Bond's superior known only as "M" nust be Mycroft Holmes whereas in fact he is Moriarty. However, Mycroft does take over the Secret Service when Moriarty has been fired into space by Fu Manchu's stolen Cavorite. (Imagine if everything were true...)


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I did wonder about Eric Sherfinford's mentioning his Cherokee ancestors. Were there an unusual number of Cherokee police officers among his ancestors? We don't know!


Baloo said...

Speaking of M's, interesting speculation here...

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Baloo!

Very interesting and amusing, these speculations that among some of the M's who ran the British Secret Service were Professor Moriarty and Mycroft Holmes. And Lord Peter Wimsey's invaluable butler and valet, Mervyn Bunter, no less!