Steampunk Sourcebook: Sherlock Holmes Part 3

Well, we’ve wended our weary way through the entire cannon of short stories over the last two posts, and now it is time for the four novels. I have also included some Steampunk adaptations at the bottom for those of you who are feeling inspired to hang with your Holmes-y. (yeah, that was a total groaner). In the fourth and final installment tomorrow I’ll have a gallery devoted to Sherlock Holmes cosplay. (Read Part 1 and Part 2)

Novel Synopses

Study in Scarlet coverNovel: A Study in Scarlet

Dates: First published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887, and released as a novel in 1888. The story is set in 1881. This was the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes, and it features the first meeting of Holmes and Watson. Though the story did not meet with wide appeal at the beginning, it is now one of the most famous of the Sherlock Holmes tales.

  • This murder mystery centers around the discovery of a body with the word “rache” beside it written in blood of the victim during his last moments. The first half of the book is the account of Dr. Watson about solving the case, and the second half gives the backstory for the circumstances of the murder.

Sign of Four coverNovel: The Sign of Four

Dates: Published in 1890, set in 1888.

  • Mary Morstan, who later becomes Mary Watson and is sometimes referenced by Dr. Watson in later stories, asks Holmes to investigate the strange circumstances of her father’s disappearance and a mysterious benefactor who has been sending her pearls for several years.


Cover_(Hound_of_Baskervilles,_1902)Novel: The Hound of the Baskervilles
Dates: Published in 1902, set in 1889.

  • A family legend rears its ugly and howling head on the lonely moorland, and murder abounds. Holmes sends Watson to investigate the family, while he pursues other lines of evidence in secret.

This is my personal favorite Sherlock Holmes story. I also really enjoyed the contemporary adaptation, “The Hounds of Baskerville”, in the BBC’s Sherlock which aired in 2012. I don’t put this series into the Steampunk category, but I am a huge fan of this contemporary re-imagining of the character and stories.


Valley of FearNovel: The Valley of Fear
Dates: First published as a serial in The Strand from 1914-1915, and later compiled into a novel.

  • Professor Moriarty is at the center of a murder mystery, and Holmes vows to bring him to justice.




Steampunk Adaptations and Character References in Literature:

  • Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life and Tarzan Alive!, by American sci-fi author Philip Jose Farmer, make references to Holmes, attributing his amazing powers of deduction as well as the amazing powers of many of the other “great Victorians” to the Wold Cottage meteor (1795).
  • CoverSteampunk Holmes: The Legacy of the Nautilus, by P. C. Martin, takes place in alternate 1885 where Sherlock is aided by his cyborg sidekick Watson and a female Mycroft to thwart evil-doers in their attempt to use the technology of Captain Nemo’s Nautilus for nefarious purposes. This book was also made into an interactive app that won an award in 2013. It is available free of charge through the iTunes app store.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels by Alan Moore, as well as the 2013 movie by the same name, features Holmes’ nemesis, Professor James Moriarty, as a villain.
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Stuff of Nightmares (2013) by James Lovegrove. Read a review from The Geek Girl Project website.

Steampunk Adaptations and References in Other Media:


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