Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Merged: Comparing Time-Travel Traits

This is not a post glorying about how Merged will be better than any other girl-travels-back-in-time story out there.  It’s simply making some points about how it’s different from other such stories (and why, therefore, you should read it).

1. The Heroine Is a Detective.
Now that’s a pretty big deal.  I’ve only ever seen one other story in which that was the case, and… the plot wasn’t really that similar to mine, which is good.  =)  More specifically, Kathleen Stewart is an independent investigative consultant, a.k.a. private consulting detective.  She is not an official part of law-enforcement, but neither does she choose to identify herself as a P.I.

2. The Novel Uses a Canonical Story.
You don’t see too much of that, though nomdeplume30’s awesome A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Set did actually send Jeremy Brett and David Burke to the events of “The Dancing Men.”  Anyway, Merged uses “The Final Problem” in a very important way—in fact, the modern-day characters go back about a year before the events of FINA.

3. The Method of Time-Travel Is a Machine, And the Government Is Involved.
A crucial plot-point.  Some time-travel stories basically use supernatural means to cross time, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  But the reason we have an adventure in the first place is because the CIA’s secret superweapon, a time-machine, is stolen by the (fictional) mastermind criminal of our day.

4. The Modern Big Bad Seeks Out Moriarty.
Yesss.  Indeed.

5. Both the Modern Heroine And the Modern Villain Are Sherlockians.
Sometimes the girl is a Sherlockian; sometimes she isn’t (though that doesn’t seem to be often).  But what you’ve never seen before is a modern bad-guy who’s actually a fan of Sherlock Holmes (no, Sherlock!Moriarty doesn’t count—different circumstances).

6. Sherlock Holmes Is the Heroine’s Hero.
Hero, role-model, and longtime fangirl crush—considering that Kathleen grew up with Jeremy Brett as her Holmes, you can’t blame her for that last bit.  The reason she’s a detective in the first place is because of Sherlock.  And despite her determination to make her hero see that she’s fully as capable as he is, she’s also not afraid to let him and Watson know that she’s a hardcore fangirl.

7. The Heroine Has Unique Characteristics.
+A: Heroines in these stories tend to be short, 5’4” or shorter.  Holmes is at least 6’ (commonly written as being taller).  Now, there’s always Han Solo and Princess Leia (6’1” & 5’3”) and Anakin and Padmé Skywalker (6’1” & 5’4”), and shorter females tend to be feistier than their taller counterparts.  But Kathleen Stewart is very Scotch-Irish and tall at 5’10”, which comes to her advantage in her line of work.  There’s less than half a foot in height between her and Sherlock.
+B: Heroines are either beautiful or just plain-looking.  Kathleen is neither—simply nicely attractive (although she can look gorgeous if she really dolls herself up).
+C: Heroines are often blue or green or hazel-eyed—anything but the very common brown.  Kathleen has brown eyes courtesy of her Spanish-Jewish mom, and the color works well.
+D: Time-travel heroines typically don’t have the same IQ as the Great Detective.  Kathleen does.  She’s as good as he is at what they do.  And yet, their personalities remain different…
+E: Heroines don’t usually have very much family and/or friends holding them back from staying in late Victorian London.  Kathleen, on the other hand, has parents she adores, eight brothers and sisters (the youngest of which is a full twenty years her junior), a team in the New York Police Department (NYC) with whom she loves to work, and an overall well-developed life that would be difficult to give up.  The two things she does not have are a husband and children of her own.
+F: Heroines tend to be in their early or mid-20s.  Kathleen is 32, the same age as Sherlock when they meet.

8. The Story Takes Place When Watson Is Married to Mary.
As far as I know, this has never been done before.  The heroine either arrives before Watson’s marriage or after the Great Hiatus.  (And there’s always a third bedroom created at 221B that was never mentioned in the Canon, since it’s now three people sharing rooms.  But in this story, since Watson is married and moved out, Kathleen takes his old bedroom.)

9. The Girl Could Hold Her Own Against Holmes in a One-on-One.
This is not Mary Sue-ism.  This is just being realistic.  Kathleen is a private detective who often gets herself deep in trouble.  Thus, she’s made sure she’s gotten the best combat training a civilian can have.  You’d better believe a person with that kind of training could take on the Great Detective.

10. The Girl’s Got a Gun.
Though she’s determined not to use it often in order to conserve on expensive ammo that can’t be replaced in 1890, Kathleen is a dead shot with her customary Glock 10mm (which is a very powerful handgun).  And she is.  Not.  Afraid.  To Use.  It.  Her view on killing and murder differs from the views of a lot of people today, and she has no moral compunction about killing a person to defend herself or others.

11. More Than Just Holmes & Watson Know.
Mary Watson, Inspector Lestrade (and possibly Gregson and maybe Hopkins), Wiggins, and maybe Mrs. Hudson all know the origin of the individualistic American woman living in 221B.  And, of course, Moriarty finds out.

12. “Just Like a Married Couple.”
Oh snap, I just lost half of you, right?  Well, if you’re willing to keep reading, yes, it’s Sherlock/OC—which, I’m well aware, isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.  But I hope to bring something fresh and new to the concept, partially based on the characters’ ages.  Sherlock is 32, old and mature enough to have learned some lessons about a few of the ideas he formed as a young man, and—contrary to popular belief—he is not a misogynist.  He simply doesn’t understand what makes women tick, and he doesn’t like it.  Kathleen, however, has an intelligence equaling his own, character traits not unlike Watson’s, and an overall mature but fun personality that enjoys sharp, witty banter.  He can be at ease around Kathleen, because she lets him be at ease.

Those are the twelve major points I can think of at the moment.  Now that I’m starting to actually post up experimental vignettes for Merged, you’ll probably be seeing more about it in the future.  (Although the very next post may well be about Deliver Us from Evil.)

And just to remind my readers… At the Mercy of the Mind is now available for purchase, and it's begging to be bought!  At least go check out the page!

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