Editor: John Joseph Adams
Published: 2009 by Night Shade Books
An anthology of short stories written by authors from the world of speculative fiction.
The world of Sherlock Holmes has always attracted what we now call fanfic; unlike certain other fanfic realms, however, the Holmes ouevre has attracted a lot of really excellent writers, who even publish under their own names without damaging their careers. (!)
The very broad range of authors and genres covered in The Improbable Adventures allows the writers to explore some non-canon ideas of SF and horror, as well as some 'straight' Holmes stories, exploring other popular fanfic themes like "that time Watson solved a case", "what the hell happened to Mary?" and of course, "Can we drag Irene Adler back in for the finale?" The mix of genres means that for any given story, the reader doesn't necessarily know what to expect, and it is that which saves it from being a predictable collection.
The individual stories are mostly excellent. Stephen King's offering, "The Doctor's Case", is tightly written but surprisingly pedestrian. Robert J. Sawyer pushes into the realms of creative physics in the excellent "You See But You Do Not Observe". A few stories recycle some of Conan-Doyle's own ideas to revisit old friends, but many authors have clearly been saving their very best ingenious Holmesian ideas just for this anthology. As might be expected, there are several stories based on those missing cases that Watson refers to from time to time in the course of other stories. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself even makes an appearance in a delicious tale that highlights the contrast between the greatest thinker ever imagined, and the gullible fool who created him.
There are a lot of bees.
The real standout in the collection, however, is the sublime Lovecraftian horror of Neil Gaiman's "A Study in Emerald", which twists the very familiar into a grotesque and exquisitely realised alternate world. Just when you think he can't fit anything more into the word limit of a short story... This story alone is worth the purchase price.
Recommended for: you. Off you go, it's available as an ebook. It shouldn't take you more than five minutes to find and purchase a copy of your own. I'd lend you mine, but I don't want to part with it.