Monday, April 22, 2013

The Revenge of Irene Adler

I love Sherlock Holmes now, but it wasn't love at first read.

I don't remember the first story I read when I was eight or nine, but I definitely remember being angry after I finished it. How on earth was I supposed to solve that mystery along with the detective? Did the writer expect me to know what a smear of brick dust meant? Well, no, Arthur Conon Doyle didn't expect anyone to solve the mystery. Anyone except Sherlock Holmes. And that was the point of his stories. You were supposed to sit back and marvel at how brilliant Sherlock was.

Well, Pffffffft to that.

However, I'd read almost every other mystery novel in the library and I was desperate for a fix, so I gritted my teeth and decided to give ACD another try. It was either fate or luck that the next Sherlock Holmes story I read was A Scandal in Bohemia. There wasn't much to solve, except where the picture was hidden, but it hooked me because of the character Irene Adler.

Irene was the first female character I met with a career. Better than that, she didn't behave properly, didn't play fair, and she got away with it. Oh, she was a lovely revelation. She was the smartest person in the room, and the smartest man - Sherlock - not only acknowledged she'd outwitted him, he admired her for it. Even Moriarty, the Napoleon of Crime, couldn't manage that! That's what made her The Woman. How sad that she only existed in one short story, but I carried her as a silver of hope in my heart. 

While I'm a fan of  BBC's show Sherlock, the Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey jr, and I'm even okay with Elementary, I have a huge issue with how they handle Irene Adler. Both BBC Sherlock and the movies for some odd reason decided to intertwine her character with Moriarty. Worse, they made her his subordinate. Irene isn't The Woman if she doesn't outwit Sherlock, but in both the BBC series and the movies, Sherlock and Moriarty outwit her. Wait! What? Oh no. (We'll see how Elementary handles her. I suspect that in their version, Irene is Moriarty. Not sure how I feel about that. We'll see if I'm right.) Here's a strong female character created by a Victorian gentleman, but modern (male) writers demote her to henchman? What the hell, guys? 

 I had already written Devil's Concubine and the first draft of Devil Incarnate before I saw the second SH movie or any episodes of the BBC series, so DC and DI aren't a rebuttal to them. I didn't even plan to write a character that could, in some light, be seen as Irene Adler fanfic. I simply wanted to write a story about an interesting woman. I'd already 'met' QuiTai, but as I filled in her background, the similarities between her and Irene were clear to me. So I asked, "What if Irene Adler were born on a different planet?" She'd have adventures that tested her brilliant mind. She'd be cunning and resourceful and never once apologize for being herself. She certainly wouldn't have to lose just to make Sherlock look good. Really, writer dudes, what is your issue with Irene?

QuiTai’s final words in The Devil Incarnate are, “I win.”
Yes, you do, because you are The Woman. 
Love, Me.

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