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The Moriarty Paradigm is a planned series of Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories by various authors and set in a steampunk timeline. This book is a taster, containing three excerpts of upcoming works, an original short story that feels like another excerpt, and a batch of essays explaining the exercise. I thoroughly enjoyed the fictional pieces and some (though not all) of the essays were interesting. The alternative Victorian world conjured up was detailed and immersive, and not incredible by steampunk standards. And an abundance of references to minor Conan Doyle characters and events provide Easter eggs as well as demonstrating that the authors have done their homework.
One thing about it does bother me. Apparently the intention is to write a mix of original stories and mash-ups of Conan Doyle’s tales. To quote from one essay: “Writing original steampunk with Holmes would not prove our point… We therefore set out to capture the essence of the Holmes canon, as opposed to the Holmes icon, and this led us to the modern concept of a mash-up.”
I sincerely hope the authors will have the courage to devise their own stories and keep the mash-ups to a minimum. But if they do, some tighter editing to catch the occasional slip might not go amiss. In the original short story “The Intercepted Letter”, one character comes out with the expression “I studied hard and played hard”. It may well be that Victorian gentlemen did use this particular cliché but it jars about as much as, say, Watson replying to a teslagram with “LOL” (he would of course use “MOM”, for “Modicum of Mirth”).
No completed Moriarty Paradigm story has seen the light of day at the time of this review, as far as I can tell.