Illustration by Mike Mignola

Gaslight Arcanum

Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes

Edited by

J.R. Campbell & Charles Prepolec

E-Book Edition

Published by

EDGE Science Fiction and

Fantasy Publishing

I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere…

by Charles Prepolec

Welcome to Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes, the third in our series of anthologies to pitch Sherlock Holmes into weird and supernatural stories. Yes, that’s right; third. The book you now hold in your hands follows Gaslight Grimoire: Fantastic Tales of Sherlock Holmes (2008 EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing) and Gaslight Grotesque: Nightmare Tales of Sherlock Holmes (2009 EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing). Let me tell you a little story about how we got to this point….

It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play … okay, maybe not, but time flies when you’re having fun, and I’ve definitely been having fun with Sherlock Holmes over the last few years. It was 2006 when my co-editor Jeff Campbell and I first set out to plunge that most rational of detectives, Sherlock Holmes, into the murky realms of supernatural, or weird fiction. At that point it had been three years since we had edited our small press anthologies of traditional Sherlock Holmes pastiche — Curious Incidents: Volumes 1 & 2 — and we were looking to do something else, something new, something different, maybe something a bit ‘out there’ with the character. Most of all we wanted to do something that would be fun — fun for us to put together, but more importantly, fun for our readers. It set me to thinking about exactly which Sherlock Holmes stories, by authors other than Arthur Conan Doyle, had given me the most pleasure over the years. Which were the most memorable or had left some strong impression on me? Which ones made me smile when I first read them? Given my lifelong enthusiasm for horror fiction, comic books and pulp tales, it should come as no surprise that my list was populated with books and stories that referenced these interests.

Fred Saberhagen’s The Holmes-Dracula File and Seance For A Vampire, Loren D. Estleman’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes, Manly Wade Wellman and Wade Wellman’s Sherlock Holmes’s War of the Worlds, Martin Powell’s Scarlet in Gaslight, Phil Farmer’s The Adventure of the Peerless Peer, Cay Van Ash’s Ten Years Beyond Baker Street, Michael Dibdin’s The Last Sherlock Holmes Story, P. H. Cannon’s Pulptime, Mark Frost’s The List of Seven and The Six Messiahs, Ralph Vaughan’s Sherlock Holmes in the Adventure of the Ancient Gods, Sam Siciliano’s The Angel of the Opera, Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula and Diogenes Club stories, Reaves and Pelan’s Shadows Over Baker Street, etc. … are the books, comics and journals that have left a lasting impression on me and colored my view of what I enjoy the most in Sherlock Holmes stories. Some are mash-ups with other characters, some are pulpy adventure, some are science fictional, and some are just outright horror stories, but all of them take Holmes beyond the confines of straight mystery stories, or slavish pastiche, and have some fun with the character.

Of course there were also various other factors that influenced our decision to take Holmes down the supernatural road. There seemed to be something in the air at the time, maybe a premonition, maybe an educated guess that the time for Holmes and horror was at hand. Magic and the supernatural seemed to be on the upswing in popular culture with the likes of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and Mike Mignola’s Hellboy making it to the silver screen. Speaking of Mike Mignola, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that a Batman story written by Mike, for DC’s Elseworlds line in 2000 — Batman: The Hell That Came to Gotham — was a direct influence, to say nothing of the Hellboy: Odd Jobs prose anthologies edited by Christopher Golden. The former showed me that you could pitch an established detective character into a supernatural world without missing a beat and the latter practically served as a template for the sort of book we set out to produce in terms of both style and approach. We wanted to bring in writers who could work effectively with Conan Doyle’s creation in much the same way Christopher Golden had successfully brought in writers to work with Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. In short, we wanted folks who were fans of Sherlock Holmes who would take the character beyond the realm of simple pastiche. After a bit of thought Jeff and I put together a list of writers we thought would fit and deliver the sort of stories we were after. Some we’d worked with on Curious Incidents, others we’d admired for some time, and others still were friends and acquaintances within either the Sherlockian or fantastic fiction communities. In any event we were thrilled with the response and were delighted to have stories from Barbara Hambly, Kim Newman, Martin Powell, Barbara Roden, Chris Roberson and all the other talented writers we pulled together for our first Holmes/horror anthology. Rounding out the text was a fine foreword from noted Sherlockian, writer and my former editor at Sherlock magazine, David Stuart Davies. For the icing on the cake we commissioned an atmospheric cover by artist Timothy Lantz and interior illustrations from the amazing Australian Sherlockian Phil Cornell. We had our first book!

The question then became who would publish it? Happily, by the time we pitched the concept to Calgary- based publisher Brian Hades, of EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing in 2007, a few other factors had come into play that would add to our project’s appeal. First off, a Sherlock Holmes film was announced as being in- development by Warner Bros, which would bring Sherlock Holmes back into the pop culture limelight, a place from which he’d largely been absent since the Sherlock Holmes boom of the late 1980s. Secondly, Calgary had won the bid to host the 2008 World Fantasy Convention. The theme for the convention was “Mystery in Fantasy and Horror” with one of our writers, Barbara Hambly, as guest of honour. The logo for the convention featured a dragon wearing a deerstalker hat. If you want to talk about a perfect fit, it doesn’t get much better than that! Serendipity is a wonderful thing. So we had a concept, writers, a publisher, a target date for publication and a great venue for a release. Finally, in October of 2008, Gaslight Grimoire: Fantastic Tales of Sherlock Holmes hit bookstores around the globe … selling out its initial printing in under seven weeks. The book went on to garner

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