Friday, 19 May 2017
"Sherlock Nero Poirot"
no Nero Wolfe or Gideon Fell;
very little Miss Marple or Lord Peter Wimsey;
maybe two Fr Brown collections.
What I like about the Fr Brown series is that the villain reforms and becomes the detective's companion.
When Poul Anderson's Trygve Yamamura taunts a friend as "Sherlock Nero Poirot," we recognize at least two of these names and can easily learn the significance of the one that is less familiar. In fact, googling "Nero detective" brings up Nero Wolfe.
Anderson's text almost certainly means that Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe and Hercule Poirot are known as fictional characters to Yamamura and his friend as they are to Anderson and his readers but there is another possibility. Fictional characters can be real to each other. There is some evidence that Holmes is real to Wolfe. See here. Both Holmes and Poirot become celebrities in their fictional worlds. Therefore, one or both could be known to Yamamura as a celebrity rather than as a fiction. Holmes' world contains not only the events of "A Scandal in Bohemia" etc but also Watson's published accounts of those events - thus raising the question whether Watson reported accurately. Fiction can go through some very strange stages. Holmes is real to Anderson's Time Patrol. However, if Holmes is real to Wolfe, it does not follow that the Patrol and Wolfe are real to each other because Holmes can exist in more than one alternative world.
Discussing detective fiction has led to discussing alternative history fiction. Imagine all the detectives existing in their parallel worlds - and someone communicating between them.