I haven't had time to do much reading in the yuletide archive yet, but I want to talk about the fandom I wrote in, which was Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective
When I was hinting around
about what it was, elspethdixon
guessed "a steampunk comic about superheroes fighting crime in 1890s NYC, that being the most awesome madlibs example I can think of at the moment."
She was incorrect: it's actually a collection of short stories and two mostly-lost silent films, not a comic; and they were written between 1909 and 1914, not in the 1890s.
...the rest was pretty much right. I was going for "A hundred-year-old book about lesbians fighting crime in gaslit New York City."
Since it's mostly only steampunk in that Madelyn carries a pocket telephone
, and in that it's set in the era when most of the steampunk technology was actually becoming real; and it's mostly only superheroes in that her dear companion Nora is a girl reporter working for the Daily Bugle
, and in that they are both very good at fighting crime.
But then, they're only lesbians in that ... no, actually they're fairly obviously lesbians to anyone who's read the book, and my yuletide feedback agrees with me on that :Dcinaed
, my assigned recipient, describes the fandom as " - it's pretty much a genderswap of Holmes and Watson". It's not the fandom we matched on (there will be a post about that one later), but how was I supposed to resist at least looking it up with a summary like that?The complete Madelyn Mack story collection is available for free download
through archive.org, and the PDF is illustrated with stills from the films. The Alice Joyce website also has contemporary reviews of the lost films
I started reading ...three pages in, and Madelyn telling Nora how she's a greater detective than "our old friend Sherlock Holmes" because women are naturally better at that sort of thing, and I was pretty much a lost cause.
So is it really just a genderswap of Holmes and Watson set in gaslight New York City? I have prepared a convenient comparison chart so you can judge for yourself!( Convenient Comparison Chart for Sherlock Holmes and Madelyn Mack )
Final score: Sherlock 4, Madelyn 12
Am I seriously claiming it's better than Holmes? No, of course not. Nora and Madelyn and the world they inhabit are fabulous and fabulously drawn, and as Edwardian genre stories they are certainly still eminently readable, and I am so very, very glad they exist; and a blatant Holmesian pastiche that consistently fails the reverse Bechdel is just so much *fun* to play in, and I really do wish they had a living fandom like Holmes has (or, failing that, they were part of Holmes-universe fanon!) But realistically, the mysteries aren't nearly as clever, as a writer Hugh C. Weir is no Conan Doyle, and with only five stories and two lost film shorts to work with, there's not nearly as much there.
And then there's the last and longest story, The Purple Thumb
. TPT is ... problematic.( Extensive notes on 'The Purple Thumb' and its problems )( An outline of the fixit fic I would have written, had I world enough and time )
As for the story I actually wrote, as opposed to the one I dreamed about:Silver Buttons All Down Her Back
, 4300 words, explicit Madelyn/Nora first-time, gratuitous Sherlock Holmes crossover and clapping-rhyme references. I think it's possibly the best fic I have ever published, certainly the best I've done for yuletide. Damning with faint praise, I know.( Notes on 'Silver Buttons' )
I really feel like I want to talk more about why Miss Madelyn Mack is so deeply awesome, but really, the story I wrote is 4,300 words of me showing you all why, and after staring at this entry for several
days, I realize that what I actually want to do is a line-by-line director's commentary of my fic. So...there is going to be another entry up shortly with that.
If you didn't feel like wading through all that, here's what you should know: Miss Madelyn Mack and Miss Nora Noraker are genderswapped Holmes and Watson in New York city; they are awesome and every bit as slashy as their counterparts, only with petticoats; and you can read the entire book at archive.org legally: Miss Madelyn Mack Detective
; and you should. Also I will so be cosplaying her at some point: I already have a vintage 1914 black gown and black lace petticoats a Victorian adventurer's magnifying glass and stompy boots and an awesome hat; all I need is some cola berries and a locket to put them in! (I really want to find & try some kola nut, actually, it sounds interesting.)
Here is a picture of Miss Madelyn Mack: