Friday, 17 October 2014

Guest Post: James Lovegrove on super heroes and Sherlock Homes

Hi, Lydia.

Here you are.  The first two paragraphs are optional (by which I mean, not for publication). Obviously.


David Thomas Moore is quite clearly the greatest man who has ever lived and will ever live, a colossus who bestrides the world of publishing and every other world, showering those around him, those lucky enough to know him, with his genius.  His talent for just about everything exceeds that of the foremost experts in any field.  He also has a beard.

But enough about David Thomas Moore.  Here’s a blog piece about my tale for 221 Baker Streets.
[ED: Err not sure this was meant to be included Gittins - have you been at Guy Adams' drink cabinet again?]


I'm a fan of superheroes. 

Always have been.  

I was into superheroes long before it was fashionable,long before Marvel movies were raking in billions at the box office and everyone knew who Green Arrow was thanks to the hit TV show.  Since the early 1970s I've eagerly followed the exploits of comic book costumed folk with super powers.  I've stuck with them through the lean years, when even the people responsible for writing and drawing stories about them seemed to lose faith and be overwhelmed with a sense of futility and despair, and will continue to stick with them despite the fact they’re now ubiquitous and big business.

I've also always been a massive Sherlock Holmes fan.  My father read me the Conan Doyle stories when I was little, and the character and his world have stuck with me ever since.  Holmes is, I would argue, a superhero himself, a prototype of the caped adventurer who rights wrongs and fights for justice with a loyal sidekick forever accompanying him.  Holmes’s super power is his brain, his amazing ability to analyse, deduce and ratiocinate, his unerring eye for the small, telling detail which leads him to unlock mysteries and collar crooks.  Like many a superhero he is flawed, sometimes insufferable, his main Achilles heel being his boredom-driven manic depressive episodes and his penchant for pharmaceutical stimulants – but you can still be sure that, come what may, he is staunchly, resolutely on the side of the angels and will never succumb to his dark side.

When I was asked by David Moore to contribute to an anthology of short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes in various different settings and configurations, my immediate thought was to write something which involved super powers.  From there it was a short hop to imagining a world where everyone had a power of some sort, a preternatural attribute which they could utilise to varying degrees.  There could be people who were extraordinarily strong, people who could fly, people who could swim underwater…  The setting would be the Victorian era, exactly as we know it, with this one major twist.

And then I thought, what if Sherlock Holmes was someone who lacked any such power?  What if he was a rare anomaly, born vanilla, without the abilities which everyone else took for granted?  How would that change him?  Would it alter what he does?  Would he still be the world’s first and only consulting detective?

Of course he damn well would!

And so I wrote “The Innocent Icarus”.  It isn't my first Holmes outing, not by a long shot.  I have written two novels featuring the character (The Stuff Of Nightmares and Gods Of War) with a third (The Thinking Engine) due out in 2015.  I have also penned a short story, “The Fallen Financier”, which appeared in George Mann's Encounters Of Sherlock Holmes anthology, and I am starting work next year on a trilogy which pits Holmes against creatures from H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.

“The Innocent Icarus” is, though, I think the sheerest fun I've had with a Holmes tale.  It’s a fusion of classic detective yarn and superhero fantasy, and thus reconciles my two earliest and most enduring literary passions in a single, unified whole.  

You could say it’s a story I've been waiting all my life to write.


James Lovegrove ( was born on Christmas Eve 1965 and is the author of more than 40 books. His novels include The Hope, Days, Untied Kingdom, Provender Gleed, the New York Timesbestselling Pantheonseries—so far Age Of Ra, The Age Of Zeus, The Age Of Odin, Age Of Aztec, Age Of Voodoo and Age Of Shiva, plus a collection of three novellas, Age Of Godpunk—and Redlaw and Redlaw: Red Eye, the first two volumes in a trilogy about a policeman charged with protecting humans from vampires and vice versa. He has produced two Sherlock Holmes novels, The Stuff Of Nightmares and Gods Of War.

James has sold well over 40 short stories, the majority of them gathered in two collections, Imagined Slights and Diversifications. He has written a four-volume fantasy saga for teenagers, The Clouded World (under the pseudonym Jay Amory), and has produced a dozen short books for readers with 
reading difficulties, including Wings, Kill Swap, Free Runner, Dead Brigade, and the 5 Lords Of Painseries.

James has been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the British Fantasy Society Award and the Manchester Book Award. His short story ‘Carry The Moon In My Pocket’ won the 2011 Seiun Award in Japan for Best Translated Short Story.

James’s work has been translated into twelve languages. His journalism has appeared in periodicals as diverse as Literary Review, Interzone and BBC MindGames, and he is a regular reviewer of fiction for the Financial Times and contributes features and reviews about comic books to the magazine Comic Heroes.

He lives with his wife, two sons and cat in Eastbourne, a town famously genteel and favoured by the elderly, but in spite of that he isn't planning to retire just yet.

James Lovegrove is the author of The Innocent Icarus in the Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now from Abaddon Books!

Order: UK | US

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