Jun. 6th, 2010

starlady: Mary, Holmes and Watson at home in Baker Street (not impressed OT3)
[personal profile] starlady
As a follow up to [personal profile] spacefall's fandom books post, I'd like to rec (and hopefully discuss!) a fandom book that actually does manage to queer Holmes pretty thoroughly. By making Holmes a trilaterally symmetrical trisexual sentient crustacean, that is.

No, I'm not making this up. The book in question is Their Majesties' Bucketeers by L. Neil Smith, and I don't think I'm going too far out on a limb to say that everyone in this community would probably find it fascinating if only for the Holmes AU aspects. It's pretty awesome on most levels: depending on your point of view, this book is either a science fiction novel depicting a society of trilaterally symmetrical trisexual sentient crustaceans in the rough equivalent to Britain's Edwardian period, or it's a professionally published Sherlock Holmes OT3 AU.

I first heard about this book from [personal profile] melannen, in this long post about subordinate Holmes canons, and all in all Smith does not disappoint (though I ought to warn for colonialism and libertarianism in the background). (The following text is c&p'd from my longer review of the book here, with some discussion of queer and transgender experiences in this setup in the comments.)

Our narrator is Mymy (Mymisiir Offe Woom, to give rher full name), the surdaughter of the Empire's first surmale surgeon; rhe aspires to follow in rher surfather's footsteps, and has elected to join Their Majesties' Bucketeers to train as a paracauterist to that end. Mymy is quite proud of rher achievements in joining the Bucketeers, and in being rher surfather's child: deservedly so, given the gender-based discrimination surmales confront daily and the barriers that rher family's upper-middle class insistence on "decency" also present.

In the Bucketeers Mymy meets Mav, a brilliant Senior Inquisitor who is beginning to devise not only crime scene investigation techniques but also the science of detection, though Mav (a two-thirds-caste ex-Air Navy officer who nonetheless enjoys an unassailable social position in Imperial society) clashes often with his superior officers's traditionalism. When Mav's old friend and teacher Srafen, the devisor of the theory of ascension, is murdered at a public lecture, Mav seizes the chance to put his theories and ideas about detection to the test, with Mymy's help. Along the way Mymy meets Mav's friend Vyssu, a true original who has come up from the capital's mean streets through an unbeatable combination of luck and ingenuity, and comes to value her for her own sake as well.

It's hugely interesting to see Smith redistribute the traits of the major canonical Conan Doyle characters (Holmes, Watson, Morstan, Adler) amongst his crustaceans; to take just one example it's Mav who has the limp, because he's the one who served in a colonial war, because females don't join the military, period, and surmales only serve in the medical branches. It's also hugely interesting to consider what the lamviin's trisexuality means, for society and for queerness; Smith does a decent job of teasing its repercussions out despite the book's brevity, but of course there's always more to say. In the end, of course, one can't help but draw comparisons with humanity, which is definitely part of the point.


Queering Holmes

July 2010

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