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|REVIEWED: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE TERROR OUT OF TIME|
|I confess to having a fondness for Sherlock Holmes cross-universe pastiches when handled with a bit of flair, so when Iíd discovered that Gary Lovisiís Gryphon Books was releasing a third Holmes/H.P. Lovecraft pastiche by Ralph E. Vaughan, I lost no time in ordering it. On arrival it went directly to the top of my ever-increasing pile of pastiches, such is my regard for Vaughanís previous work Sherlock Holmes in the Adventure of the Ancient Gods (first published in Holmesian Federation #4) and to a lesser extent Sherlock Holmes in the Dreaming Detective (sorry, but Iíve never been terribly fond of HPLís Dreamland based stories). After devouring the book in one sitting, Iím happy to say that my regard is still intact and my fondness for Vaughanís approach to Holmes and HPL has increased once again.|
|Sherlock Holmes and the Terror Out of Time is far less of a blatant HPL inspired story than the overly dramatic title would lead one to believe. Although the plot is still pure undiluted Weird Tales-style pulp fiction, Vaughan has developed considerably from a stylistic viewpoint, not even once invoking the well worn name of Cthulu! His use of locations and descriptive phrasing is solid throughout. The dialogue is strong and faithful to the spirit of Conan Doyle and by putting Watson out of the way, Vaughan has managed to side step the usual pastiche pitfall of providing Watsonian-style narration and has opted instead to use a third person omniscient narrative. Holmes well-known disregard of the supernatural is effectively explained away, not damaging his credibility or rationality in the least. My only serious annoyance is in the handling of Professor Challenger, who is strangely relegated to the role of Watson substitute and never quite lives up to the brash and impetuous character of The Lost World.
Beginning with an establishing prologue set in British pre-history, we jump quickly to Baker Street where the dying seaman, India Jack Neville, has dropped a package of unspeakable horror literally at the feet of Sherlock Holmes, Professor Challenger and Inspector Wilkins, interrupting their fascinating discourse on Darwinism. With the Macguffin safely in their hands and Watson away, Holmes and Challenger set out to unravel its secrets. What does this ugly idol have to do with the KiíMítollo sect of the Maldives? Could it be tied into attacks in the docklands by three giant serpent-like beasts? Holmes and Challenger, the detective and the scientist, are determined to find out! Their quest for knowledge takes them to the British Museum and puts them at odds with a mysterious dark magician named Laslo Bronislav, who is deemed so evil that even Aleister Crowley refers to him as ďThat Devil!Ē Aided by the late Professor Moriartyís chief information man McBane, Bronislav is determined to retrieve the idol from Holmes at all costs. How do the dark magicianís plans tie-in to the Elder Gods? Can Holmes and Challenger defeat Bronislav and the voracious elder gods terrorizing London? What do you think? Of course they can, but the fun of the tale is in the telling!
Sherlock Holmes and the Terror Out of Time is an oversized paperback with illustrated colour covers (donít be put off by the poor choice of cover art). The book is $15 USD and available directly from Gryphon Books. Visit the Gryphon Books website by clicking here or send an email to GryphonBooks@worldnet.att.net While you are at it, be sure to order a copy of Ralph Vaughanís first Holmes/HPL pastiche Sherlock Holmes in the Adventure of the Ancient Gods, if you like the idea of Holmes and Lovecraft combating the threat of Cthulu, you wonít regret it, as it beats P. H. Cannonís similarly themed Pulptime hands down!
Highly recommended for those who enjoy a fun pulp-fiction style adventure story! Not recommended for the Canonical purist, but if youíve been considering trying something a little more on the outrť side of Holmesian storytelling, this is a good choice!
|Sherlock Holmes and the Terror Out of Time
By Ralph E. Vaughan
First Published: 2001 - Gryphon Books ISBN: 1-58250-041-X
Price: $15 USD
Reviewed by Charles Prepolec
|Other Holmes and Lovecraft inspired stories by Ralph E. Vaughan available from Gryphon Books.|
|Also available from Gryphon Books is Professor Challenger
in The Secret of the Dreamlands.