scfrankles: knight on horseback with lance lowered (Default)
[personal profile] scfrankles
[community profile] holmestice has come to a close, so I thought I'd just do a few recs. And looking at the fics I've picked, they all seem to have as their underlying theme an examination of friendship.

First of all, there's my own gift fic Five Times Kincaid Encountered a Dog with Disastrous Consequences to All and Sundry, and One Time It Went Slightly Better Than Expected, Do Wipe That Smug Smile Off Your Face, Watson by language_escapes. This is set in the Without a Clue 'verse, and contrasts how that 'Holmes' (Reginald Kincaid - the actor Watson hires to play the part of Holmes) feels about dogs, with the canon Holmes' more positive feelings. Which is done by rewriting the canon adventures that feature dogs with Kincaid as Holmes instead. And it's both hilarious and rather touching - because in the end the fic is really about the friendship that lies underneath Kincaid and Watson's awkward relationship.

I myself wrote a Without a Clue fic for the previous Holmestice, after getting horribly stuck for an ACD idea. So I had rewatched the film on YouTube after a gap of about 20 years, and I rather fell in love with it. When I first watched it all those years ago, I think I was probably watching it mainly for Lysette Anthony. It sounds odd when you're talking about a film that also stars Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine, but she was the member of the cast whose work I was most familiar with and who I had the most affection for. Certainly her storyline was the only part of the plot that had stuck with me. To be honest, if I hadn't seen a clip of WaC in [personal profile] sanguinity's excellent Something Good (Will Come From That) vid, I'm not 100% sure I would have remembered who played Holmes and Watson before seeking the film out. But this time, older and wiser, I really enjoyed the Holmes & Watson partnership.

From the outside it can seem like a simple role reversal film: Kincaid/Holmes is the traditional bumbling Watson; Watson is the brilliant Holmes. But like all good comedy, there is something a bit more complex going on. In WaC, as in our world, ‘Sherlock Holmes’ is a fictional character. Well, of course he is - no-one as wonderful as Holmes could ever really exist. But this doesn’t mean that his intelligence and deductive abilities don’t exist - Watson has those. It’s just that Holmes is the one with the charisma and all the respect. So Watson in this ‘verse represents the canon Watson, as a writer and former Army doctor, and he represents the canon Holmes, with his intelligence and detective skills. But he also represents Arthur Conan Doyle. Who was the real Holmes - the one coming up with all the clever puzzles and solutions but who got overshadowed by the imaginary man he gave all those clever lines to. WaC is a story about Watson and Holmes eventually acknowledging their friendship but it’s also a nod to ACD perhaps learning to accept his most famous creation and his importance to others.

Two Shoes for a Hat by rachelindeed: This is Rachel writing in a new ‘verse for her - Ritchie ‘verse in fact. An inspired and very, very funny look at Holmes and Watson’s first meeting(s), with a wonderfully original Stamford. It’s quintessentially Rachel in that the fic appeals equally to heart and head, and is full of fresh ideas. Before reveals, I did manage to guess which was Rachel’s fic (it appears to be an innate ability. Bit of a specific superpower but a pleasing one to have nonetheless ^^) and it was partly the unknowing enthusiasm of my own comment that reassured me I had made the right choice ^_^

The Question by trobadora: I perhaps wouldn’t have expected to enjoy this fic - I prefer to keep away from Moriarty and Reichenbach as much as possible. But this is such an impressive and moving meditation on the power of friendship. And the writer is evenhanded about Moriarty - though this is a fic that examines his positive aspects, the writer never ignores the fact he is a terrible man. At the end of it all, I was left feeling some sympathy for Moriarty - which is something I had definitely never expected.

Nostoi by sanguinity: This is set in the New Russian Holmes ‘verse, and is a crossover with ACD’s The Lost World. Firstly, it’s a marvellous adventure involving Holmes and Watson trying to get the last European pterodactyl back home to South America. But it’s much more than that - it’s a deeply moving look at the renewal of Holmes and Watson’s friendship after Reichenbach.

The Case of the Six Marmalades: This one is also by [personal profile] sanguinity, and is set in the Whitehead Holmes ‘verse. Charming, lighthearted, captures the characters so well and is so funny ^__^ Holmes likes Watson so much he wants him to share in his pleasures, but then he goes too far…

And I think everyone has seen it by now, but I wrote the other Whitehead Holmes fic this round: The Case of the Deceased Marmalade Thief. Which hilariously involves sliding a corpse down a staircase. I think I may have attracted the attention of karma for this because on Tuesday night I lost my footing on the stairs at home and slid down myself. Luckily I was already halfway down and fell backwards, so I escaped with a thumped upper arm and a bruised bottom. But I can’t help but wonder if this is the late Ormesher’s revenge from beyond the page ^^”

So one challenge ends and another begins. Flash Fiction Month starts tomorrow on DeviantArt, so I will pottering off to embrace original fiction once again. I’ll be putting links in my journal as usual in case anyone wants to have a look. And I won’t be abandoning the world of fanfiction of course - this July will also involve [personal profile] smallhobbit and me completing our stint at [community profile] sherlock60 before handing over to [personal profile] alafaye. End of an era, but I am looking forward to having a bit more free time. I must admit I’ve been neglecting [community profile] holmes_minor, and I haven’t had time to get involved in other comms.

To be honest, I haven’t really felt enthusiastic about writing at all in about a year. But I’m reluctant to let it go because it’s such a positive part of my life. So hopefully FFM will get me back into the swing of writing every day - and more importantly, coming up with new ideas every day. And then once I’ve come to the end of co-running sherlock60 (I’ll still be reading and commenting), I can look around for other things to rekindle my enthusiasm.

Date: 2017-07-01 03:28 am (UTC)
gardnerhill: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gardnerhill
It was a good Holmestice this year. Lot of amazing offerings.

Glad to see you embracing the loveliness that is WaC - I've been a foaming fan of that film since it first aired in theaters in 1988. You're right - Ben Kingsley is essentially playing Doyle under the guise of Watson (a medical man who bitterly loathes the fictional sleuth he's saddled himself with). It's also awesome to have a Sherlock Holmes film in which both Wiggins and Mrs. Hudson are in at the denouement!

Tomorrow also begins the July Watson's Woes Promptfest (moved over to DW from LJ), open to all who are interested.

Date: 2017-07-01 03:39 am (UTC)
sanguinity: woodcut by M.C. Escher, "Snakes" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sanguinity
I hadn't thought of Watson being essentially Doyle, and the tense relationship between Watson and Kincaid analagous to the Doyle's feelings about Holmes, but that's a compelling reading.

July! When my friends all write many, many, many things, and there's always something to read over coffee. :-)

I'm glad the fall was no worse! And I always find it a bit eerie when an injury I wrote onto the page follows me back out into the real world.

And thank you for the (triple) rec!
Edited (STILL has the attention span of a gnat!) Date: 2017-07-01 03:42 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-07-02 05:32 pm (UTC)
sanguinity: woodcut by M.C. Escher, "Snakes" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sanguinity
I'm honestly convinced now that is how the creators were intending us to see the film - and it's such a clever idea from them. I'll keep it in mind the next time I watch!

I felt a bit of a fool more than anything... Such is the way of falls, when one isn't too badly injured! (And even sometimes when one is.) Good job on replacing the slippers!

Has this happened to you often then..? ^^" Hardly ever, taken against the number of times I've injured a character in my stories! (And aren't we all relieved by that?) The most memorable instance was the story about stirring one's coffee with one's thumb, where I wrote the scene in question and then promptly poured piping-hot coffee over my thumb. To make it particularly unsettling, it was the thumb with the same permanent injury that I had already given to the character, which made it feel a bit like me inflicting my wounds on Johanna, and Johanna in turn inflicting hers on me. It'd be in character of her; Johanna is a viciously self-protective little beast. (Um, word of warning: that story is probably the bleakest thing I've ever written, and thus not one I would expect you to enjoy overmuch. I did the best I could for my MC, but it's meant to be canon-compliant, and canon didn't leave a lot of space to work with.)

Excellent! I'd much rather you be amused than offended! :-)

Date: 2017-07-03 12:36 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] rachelindeed
Thank you so much for your Holmestice recs! I'm proud to be included (I love your superpower!) and I actually still have to read all of sanguinity's! I'm especially excited about the pteradactyl friendship journey. What a priceless idea!

I like Without a Clue, too. I'd never thought of Kingsley's Watson as a version of Doyle, but that's a perfect reading! I also find it interesting that they don't make any in-universe comment about Watson being a man of colour in the film, but I think that casting choice offers its own quiet commentary on why he has to hire someone else in order for his brilliance and authority to be accepted. As you said, it's a comedy that has some unexpected complexities.

Date: 2017-07-09 08:45 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] rachelindeed
what if this Watson had an elder brother, also British born, who had inherited darker skin?

Wow! What a fascinating idea for the Watson family backstory in this universe -- it really seems full of bittersweet potential.

I had forgotten that the movie establishes that this Watson was afraid of endangering his respectability in the detective business, that does complicate things a bit more than I remembered.

I did know that Ben Kingsley was of mixed white and Indian parentage, and I think I therefore assumed that WaC Watson was meant to be the same, since they never specified otherwise. But you're right that they may simply have written him, and Kingsley may have been playing him, as white. But I do think that it adds an interesting layer to the movie if we viewers instead read him as a man of mixed ethnicity who may or may not "pass" as white, or as you say might alternatively be acknowledged in Victorian society as an 'acceptably fair' Anglo-Indian.

In real life, Kingsley definitely has the ability to change his skin tone quite a lot depending on whether he chooses to tan or not. He tanned for Gandhi and obviously didn't for Without a Clue. That little real life detail makes me wonder -- do we imagine that Without a Clue's Watson took the canonical path of army service in Afghanistan before returning to England and starting up the detective charade?

If so, it would have been a very interesting choice for him, given that spending time in Afghanistan would have tanned his skin in a way that might have threatened whatever social status his light skin tone gave him. Wouldn't it be poignant if, seeing his older brother destroying himself in the face of this societal prejudice, Watson chose to do something with his own career that would place him in closer solidarity with his brother? To deliberately darken his own appearance, but to do so as part of a defiantly patriotic gesture that would basically dare society to say that his wartime service made him less acceptable as a British gentleman.

But then of course his gamble backfired -- he almost died in the war, struggled once he returned to England as both an invalid and a visibly dark-skinned man, and discovered that he had 'neither kith nor kin' remaining there since his brother had drunk himself to death anyway in Watson's absence. Once his injuries healed and his skin lightened again after spending sufficient time in England, I could see him becoming the proud, frustrated, risk-averse man we meet in Without a Clue. He would rather hire an actor than take a chance on destabilizing his respectability, which he had painfully learned was all too fragile.

I'm sorry, this is quite a melodrama to be writing for this silly little 'verse! :) But it just goes to show there are a million possibilities to imagine.

Date: 2017-07-11 06:18 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] rachelindeed
Of course, yes! I would love to see what a creative writer might do with Watson's backstory in this verse. "Light, with unexpected depth" is one of my favorite types of tone for a story, and Without a Clue rather invites that :)


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