Read Sherlock Holmes: Cthulhu Mythos Adventures (Sherlock Holmes Adventures Book 2) Online

Authors: Ralph E. Vaughan

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Sherlock Holmes: Cthulhu Mythos Adventures (Sherlock Holmes Adventures Book 2)

BOOK: Sherlock Holmes: Cthulhu Mythos Adventures (Sherlock Holmes Adventures Book 2)
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Lurking Terrors!

 

 

Sherlock Holmes is the ultimate embodiment of logic in a world where darkness still plays a huge role in society, where superstition remains a mainstay of the human condition, where myths and old wives’ tales vie with newspaper and magazine accounts in forming opinions. In a world beset by dark forces of bigotry and prejudice, he is the epitome of the objective observer, who by noticing traits and actions can deduce a man’s entire life-history and perhaps even his future. And yet even Holmes knows seeing is not always believing, not in a world where the greatest minds of the Victorian and Edwardian Ages are extending man’s senses by means of special lenses and infernal devices that manipulate strange energies. By extending the senses science opens up new worlds…and some of those worlds are inhabited. But even the advent of strange new worlds and infinite vistas of being cannot baffle Sherlock Holmes, the finest mind of his, or any, age.

 

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Also by Ralph E. Vaughan

 

Paws & Claws Series

Paws & Claws: A Three Dog Mystery (Paws & Claws #1)

A Flight of Raptors (Paws & Claws #2)

K-9 Blues (Paws & Claws #3)

The Death & Life of an American Dog (Paws & Claws #4)

Dogs of S.T.E.A.M. (Paws & Claws #5)

The Dog Who Loved Sherlock Holmes (Paws & Claws Special)

 

Sherlock Holmes Adventures

Sherlock Holmes: The Coils of Time & Other Stories

Sherlock Holmes in The Adventure of the Ancient Gods

Sherlock Holmes in The Dreaming Detective

Sherlock Holmes in The Coils of Time (Gryphon Books)

Sherlock Holmes in The Terror Out of Time

Professor Challenger in Secret of the Dreamlands

 

Folkestone & Hand Interplanetary Steampunk Adventures

Shadows Against the Empire (Folkestone & Hand #1)

Amidst Dark Satanic Mills (Folkestone & Hand #2)

 

Other Works

Reflections on Elder Egypt (nonfiction)

HP Lovecraft in the Comics (nonfiction)

Life & Death in the Alien’s Universe (literary criticism)

Oh, Mr Yoda! (play, with Patricia E Vaughan)

The Horses of Byzantium & Other Poems (poetry)

Midnight for Schrödinger’s Cat (poetry)

Beneath Strange Stars (short story collection)

 

As Editor and/or Illustrator

The Many Worlds of Duane Rimel (Duane Rimel)

The Second Book of Rimel (Duane Rimel)

Dreams of Yith (Duane Rimel)

Fungi From Yuggoth (HP Lovecraft; with Nick Petrosino)

Martian Twilight (John Eric Holmes, with David Barker)

Ancient Nights (anthology)

Beneath Twin Moons (anthology)

Fantastic Realms (anthology)

A Walk in the Dark (anthology)

Lost Lands (anthology)

 

Sherlock Holmes:

Cthulhu Mythos Adventures

 

 

 

 

by

 

 

 

 

Ralph E. Vaughan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dog in the Night Books

2015

 

 

© 2015 by Ralph E Vaughan

All Rights Reserved

 

 

All the stories in this collection are new and have never before been published, with the exception of two: “The Adventure of the Ancient Gods,” was first published in the fanzine
The Holmesian Federation
in 1983, then again in 1990 under the title
Sherlock Holmes in The Adventure of the Ancient Gods,
under the Gryphon Books imprint (Gary Lovisi, Publisher), and is here presented revised and expanded; also republished here is “The Terror Out of Time,” which first appeared as
Sherlock Holmes and the Terror Out of Time
in 2002, also under the aegis of Gryphon Books.

 

 

 

 

Dedication

 

To my family, especially The Wife, who often supports me in my literary and artistic endeavors, even if they do not quite understand them, or, at times, entirely approve.

Foreword: A Study in Eldritch Shadows

 

 

Sherlock Holmes and the Cthulhu Mythos.

Are they really such an odd couple?

I don’t think so, and I did not think so in 1981 when I started working on “The Adventure of the Ancient Gods.” Back in those days, print was still king and the small press industry was going strong, though “industry” is a word best used cautiously about the small press – we were all very industrious, but most of the small presses were actually micro presses, and although there were a few success stories from time to time, most of them made no money, not the publishers or editors and certainly not the writers. And yet we wrote on heroically, the last defenders of an art form fast vanishing from the literary landscape – the traditional short story.

In addition to the myriad single-shot chapbooks on every imaginable (and some not so imaginable) subject there were a few magazines – I tended to refer to them as journals since virtually none had newsstand distribution – with frequencies of publication more variable than their life spans…i.e., there was always a real chance that the latest long-delayed issued might be the last.

One minor success of the period was a small fanzine called
The Holmesian Federation
, edited by Signe Landon, a young and enthusiastic Star Trek fan-writer fond of “tall, thin men with a penchant for logical reasoning” (as she wrote in
HF#1
), which would, of course, include not only Mr Spock but Sherlock Holmes.  In fact, writer Priscilla Pollner explained it all to us in that first issue when she proved, quite logically, “Holmes Was a Vulcan,” echoing the title of Rex Stout’s “Watson Was a Woman.” Yes, the premise behind
The Holmesian Federation
was a literary mash-up between the universes of Sherlock Holmes and Star Trek.

The ingenious writers brought the Nineteenth Century into the Twenty-Third (or vice-versa) via a number of clever methods. I always suspected the producers and writers of
Star Trek: The Next Generation
must have had copies of
The Holmesian Federation
on hand when they sent the android Data into the holodeck to play in Conan Doyle’s London, or brought Moriarty out of legend to briefly take over the
Enterprise
in “Ship in a Bottle.”

I have been a Star Trek fan since the beginning, but back in 1981, when I decided to give
The Holmesian Federation
a try, I was caught in Trek-induced doldrums. The much-anticipated overly-hyped very-disappointing
Star Trek: The Motion(less) Picture
came out in 1979. I was not alone in thinking it so bad it had destroyed any chance of a second feature, much less a television series, which was what we all
really
wanted. We were premature, as it turned out, in burying Star Trek because the very good
Wrath of Khan
came out in 1982. Who knew? Signe, probably, but not me.

I still, however, wanted to write a Sherlock Holmes story for the journal, but not about Star Trek. I wrote Signe a letter, pitching the idea of a story that brought Sherlock Holmes into contact with fantasy writer H.P. Lovecraft and his literary creation, the Cthulhu Mythos. In my letter, I cited reasons such as my familiarity with Lovecraft, my past experience in writing mythos tales, and the idea that it would be “cool” to see what the uber-realist Sherlock Holmes would do when confronted with Lovecraft’s monster gods; quite wisely I did
not
tell her I thought Star Trek was dead. She was not entirely convinced, but was intrigued enough to give me the go-ahead for a story, which eventually appeared in
The Holmesian Federation #4
(1983, after
Wrath of Khan
proved me wrong) as “The Adventure of the Ancient Gods.”

To me, writing a Sherlock Holmes story in which Lovecraft and his eldritch creations figured prominently was the most natural of things. After all, Lovecraft’s early years overlapped Holmes’ later years, and I would argue they were both Edwardian gentlemen. What I did not realize is that it was only obvious to me – many hundreds of Sherlock Holmes pastiches had been written, but no one had ever included either Lovecraft or his literary children.

I cannot really claim any credit for the idea. Like the
first
of anything (first potato chip, first oyster to be eaten, or first bottle of yogurt) it grew out of circumstance, happenstance and ignorance. All the others who came after with their own stories (Holmes and Lovecraft crossovers have become a cottage industry in the already-crowded world of Holmes pastiches) do so without ever reading my story. If Peter Cannon had written
Pulptime
(1984) only a couple of years earlier, people would tell me I was emulating him (some still do), just as some editors in the 90’s told me my stories about a female warrior named Kira were too derivative of Xena, though I had published my adventure tales (set in a well-researched Bronze Age) a decade before the advent of a certain Warrior Princess.

To be a writer is to live an insular life. Even the most extroverted gadabout life-of-the-party self-promoting writer still sits down to his typewriter (or laptop now) and writes alone. Writing is a solitary venture. And, yet, no matter how isolated each of us is, we are affected by similar tides of ideas and notions.

Now, more than three decades after Signe Landon provided the venue for a Holmes-related story and I suggested a Cthulhu angle because I was depressed about Star Trek, when I read a story that brings the Great Detective into contact with the Mythos, I think,
Good job, chap…but I was there first
. And I smile a secret smile.

Almost ten years after first publication, “The Adventure of the Ancient Gods” was reprinted as a separate publication by Gary Lovisi of Gryphon Books. It had a wonderful black and white cover by Earl Geier with beautiful hand drawn lettering…that misspelled my surname, dropping the second “A,” changing my ancestry from Welsh to English. With a name like mine, mistakes are inevitable, so I took it better than did either the publisher or the artist. They corrected it in a second edition, for which I was grateful.

Later on, after a couple of sort-of sequels that brought Holmes, and, afterwards, Professor Challenger, into contact with Lovecraft’s Dreamlands, I again returned to the subject of monsters. This time, I brought Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger into the same story, which was published by Gryphon in 2002 as
Sherlock Holmes and the Terror Out of Time
. I specifically set out to
not
write a Cthulhu Mythos story, but something more along the lines of Conan Doyle’s
The Lost World
, calling upon the “orm” of British myth, and a legend of the Maldives, related to me by the famous explorer Thor Heyerdahl, who died that year. I thought I had succeeded in writing a non-Mythos story, until more than one reviewer pointed out that I had written a “good Cthulhu Mythos story without even once mentioning that dread name.” Well, who am I to argue? So, here it is, included in this volume.

One of the untold tragedies of Hurricane Sandy (2012) was Gryphon Books. A Bronx basement that had never before flooded in the entire history of the Borough was transformed from a clean and dry storage area for all Gryphon’s publications (including all my titles) to a seething cauldron of mud and water. Gone, all of them.

Gryphon Books is not out of business, not by any means, for Gary remains the same dynamo of creative energy he has always been. But reality is what it is, and as much as he would like to go back and recapture what was lost, it is more important to look to the future, to move forward and bring new projects into the light.

The first book rescued by me from the wrath of Sandy was
The Coils of Time
. Since it is in print in German and Croatian, I think I could have interested another small press in reprinting it, but like Gary I felt the need to move forward and do something new; also, I have to face the reality that most of my years are now behind me.

Like Lovecraft, I have been slow to accept a changing world and have neither tablet nor cell-phone. I admit I now type on a laptop, but with all submissions being required in digital format, what is the choice? Even I have to admit, though, the computer age has worked to democratize publishing. With social networks, e-mail and print-on-demand technology (along with the decline of the brick and mortar bookstore) small press publishers, and even individuals, can give the Big 5 a run for their money.

Sherlock Holmes: The Coils of Time & Other Stories
was published in 2013, received very good reviews and enjoyed brisk sales. In addition to the title story (which was revised for the new book) there were a half-dozen new tales, either about Holmes or related to Holmes in some way.

So, with “The Coils of Time” now safe from everything but an EMP (prepping for Doomsday anyone?), the next logical step was to return to the beginning and give the first Holmes/Lovecraft story a new home, and a slight make over. I think any writer looking at something written more than thirty years ago would be tempted to “make it better” or at least “do it right.” And that’s what you have here. But, to tell you the truth, I was surprised by how few changes and corrections I made to the story. For the most part, except for a couple of places where the enthusiasm of youth overwhelmed the cautions of an experienced writer, the tale presented here differs from the original tale only in small degrees.

As I mentioned earlier, who am I to argue with reviewers and readers? I did not intend for “The Terror Out of Time” to be a Cthulhu Mythos story, made sure to not mention
that
name even once, but I am the first to admit writers do not always understand everything about their own stories, so by including the story in this collection I admit I have been overruled.

The other tales included represent themes and styles based on Lovecraft’s writings and ideas, as well as interpretations by others, such as August Derleth (some might argue the Cthulhu Mythos is really more the Derleth Mythos), Clark Ashton Smith, Lin Carter and Brian Lumley. And, of course, I have my own ideas about Lovecraft and his creations, some of which I expressed in a series of articles that appeared in
Crypt of Cthulhu
back in the day.

Although there are now many Holmes stories with aspects of the Cthulhu Mythos, they are not embraced by all fans, especially those Conan Doyle purists who decry Holmes’ involvement with anything that smacks of superstition, supernaturalism, religion or spirituality. I’m sure there are those who even resent Holmes working for the Pope in the matter of the Vatican Miniatures.

Putting aside the fact that Conan Doyle himself was an avid proponent of spiritualism, there is no reason to believe Holmes was anything but a complex and multifaceted human being, which means he must have had a spiritual nature as well as a material one. The number of times in which he let nature take its course tends to make one think he believed there was some sort of cosmic justice at work in the world, with himself as a very active agent.

If we look for a moment at Watson’s famous list of Holmes’ areas of knowledge and ignorance, we find he knew nothing about astronomy, not even that the Earth revolved about the sun. It was not that he did not believe or even did not know, but that he did not care. He did not need to know things like that to be an agent for justice and order, so he did not retain the knowledge that he was surely exposed to at Cambridge. On the other hand, if he had lived in a steampunk world where space travel was common and crime was interplanetary, the topic of astronomy would have been moved from the Nil column to the Profound column.

I think it is likewise when it comes the Cthulhu Mythos. He often demonstrated a deep knowledge of tribal and cultural beliefs. If the gods, demons and monsters of those primitive peoples had a demonstrable existence he would certainly have taken it in stride, as he did everything else – if knowing about Cthulhu and Dagon helped him solve crimes, he would know all about them; if not, then the gods would join astronomy in the dustbin.

People who believe Watson was absolutely right all the time (and told us everything) tend to think of Holmes as an ideologue and demagogue. They use the Canon to prove Holmes was an atheist and the ultimate cerebral, ignoring all the indications he was at times volatile, highly emotional and physical. I’ve also read a book using Holmes to prove religious issues. Personally, I tend not to take too seriously the arguments offered to prove one thing or another about Sherlock Holmes and his world, whether it’s that Holmes was a Vulcan or that Watson was a woman, or, for that matter, that Watson was a dog, proven by writer Susan Conant, though that does actually appeal to me as the writer of the Paws & Claws series.

I believe Sherlock Holmes was the ultimate realist, perhaps the only one who ever lived. He believed in things that were real, in things that could be deduced, as the ocean from a drop of water. I think he was enough of a realist not to disbelieve in anything that would help him solve a crime or bring a villain to justice.

We live in a world where people believe in gods and demons, where some people even believe in Cthulhu and will stand upon a moonlit knoll at Beltane to summon him. Like us, Holmes lived in a world of witches, warlocks and Ouija boards, of bloody cults and tricksters, of sacred books for which people will kill or offer their own lives, and where people could be scared to death by ghosts.

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