With the Case of The Seven League Chimney Flue now at our backs, Professor Pi and I turned our pensive steps to home. It had been a demanding case, both as an intellectual puzzle and as an emotional calliope. Lady Lydia Van Lilithann, famed tattooed balloonist and explorer, had once again entered Pi’s life like a tigress. She was the only woman to leave marks on the Great Intellect’s heart and mind, for her breath-taking beauty was only matched by her courage and intellect.
I knew, even as we tread down the mist laden street, his thoughts were turning to her last words before she had allowed herself to be carried by the fierce updraft to a fate unknown,…. “ Remember my dear Professor, when I get low, I get high”.
Pausing before the door of 237 C Dough Maker Street, he gave a rueful smile, “ Even Old Carnacki and Charlie Fort would have found this one a real skull cracker. It is right up there with the Curious Case of The Rower, The Bull and the Missing Man with the Dustbin, don’t you think ? ”
“Only The Uncanny Cane Toad and The Green Monkey’s Kiss comes close to matching it.”
With that we entered our lodgings and base of operations, little knowing what would soon await us ……..
………And so began Shadows’ Speakeasy of Death.
A Note on Processes and inspirations: 1) During a CBC Radio interview ( Listen Here ) of Zach Dundas ( The Great Detective ) about Sherlock Holmes , Dundas comments about the unpublished mysteries that Watson mentioned in the narrative. The strange and suggestive titles of cases not yet ready for the world to know and how they generated or extended the fictional universe.
2) The interview also brought to mind the various interpretations of Holmes and the other fictional characters influenced and connected to him. Steampunk aesthetic owns a great deal of its characteristics to Doyle’s writing. The whole pulp and comic book hero trope/archetype can be seen growing out of much of Holmes persona. There is also the whole Wold Newton shared universe which builds on the idea that Holmes stories are true and that other fictional characters share a familial meta-fictional lineage.
3) In that woolly frame of mind I listened to online music and read a variety of blogs. While reading a couple of very interesting posts on Derrick Knight’s blog , a couple of his intriguing tales brought to mind potential mystery stories and possible titles. Those titles appear in this post and link to his accounts of his life present & past. Do visit and enjoy them.
4) I added some Victorian & Edwardian touches references, the fictional occult detective Carnacki the Ghost Finder and the real journalist & documenter of the odd & strange anomalies Charles Fort are referenced & linked. For the illustrations in this post, I imagined them belonging to The Casebook of Professor Pi . As with real books from the era, they come captioned with lines from various stories collected in that publication. Hopefully this surreal exercise in imaginary fiction brought you a smile and chuckle or two.
He woke up next to an empty teacup. His mouth was as fuzzy as his memory. He looked around at the room, a dog’s breakfast of broken furniture pieces, scattered papers and a flipped battered filing cabinet. Whoever they were, they had been looking for answers. It left a grumbling dread in his stomach to match the taste in his mouth – ashes of kisses and regrets as smokey as a Turkish rug after a fire sale.
He shouldn’t have been surprised. He had been gnawing away at the clues for days, while his gut said it was as simple as a little black dress and red lipstick. Every lead had him running in circles and tailed by shadowy guys trying to collar him with the goods. All he had to show for it was the fading scent of perfume that lingered like midnight moonshine, and an ache in his heart that was a dusty spider web of pain that clung on past yesterday’s bitter black coffee. It was all there in the stark grey light of morning, if he didn’t bring her in and retrieve the jewels today, he would have the biscuit.
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Here is the latest model of a Raygun Television done in the retro-classic Raygun Gothic style. Note the blend of metal & wood with the rustic charm of the digital future. This model comes with High definition 4D capabilities for the most rapid online matter transfer shopping. You can have the future today & yesterday all at the same time with multi-channel recording & doppelgänger settings. Schroedinger setting allows you to observe the show when you are not there . Security features ensure that inter-dimensional spam is filtered out and Cthulhu fields are blocked.
Raygun Gothic was a term coined in the short story, The Gernsback Continuum (pdf) . I encountered William Gibson’s story in the anthology, Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded (Highly recommended). Gibson uses the story to explore the dark side of the bright shiny future first envisioned in the early Science fiction pulp magazines introduced by Hugo Gernsback.
Cohen introduced us and explained that Dialta [a noted pop-art historian] was the prime mover behind the latest Barris-Watford project, an illustrated history of what she called “American Streamlined Modern.” Cohen called it “raygun Gothic.” Their working title was The Airstream Futuropolis: The Tomorrow That Never Was.
— William Gibson, The Gernsback Continuum
This future society was depicted as the triumph of technology in the service of mankind. This fictional world, like most of the pulp fiction of the time was full of the biases that filled American Media. The future would be an idealized American society that contained only a white-anglo culture. Robots and aliens would replace other races and ethnicities.
In Gibson’s story a photographer is hired to gather images of the architectural remnants that were based on this vision of the future. As he explores the American country-side taking photographs, he becomes aware that reality is shifting. He is somehow entering this alternate America. Is he having a mental breakdown ? Is he tuning into parallel time line ? Or is reality bending to accommodate his photographic vision ?
Note: While double checking background information, I discovered a short British film, Tomorrow Calling, an adaptation of The Gernsback Continuum. It is an an interesting & effective adaptation, but I suggest that you read the story first ( see link above).