Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

A story for which the world is not yet prepared

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Matilda Briggs was not the name of a young woman, Watson, … It was a ship which is associated with the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared.

holmes_wildcardThe reference to adventures that the good doctor never wrote down is one of the fun elements of the Sherlock Holmes canon.

As a Holmes reader I went through various phases – at first enthusiasm then irritation, and finally acceptance.
I will never be a Sherlockian1, meaning, I can’t quote you chapter and verse of Holmes adventures, but I like the Sherlock Holmes stories – and I saw the Basil Rathbone movies before I read the books, so there.
When it comes to the written word, I detest doctor Watson with a vengeance, but I’ve come to appreciate and respect Sherlock Holmes: anyone that can stand Watson as a housemate for any length of time is quite obviously a better man than I am.

And then there is the Gian Rat of Sumatra, which has that nice pulpy feel to it that it’s really a pity the facts concerning the Matilda Briggs were never published. It is obviously Holmes moonlighting in the territories in which his counterpart Sexton Blake was more at ease.

10818271There’s a number of Apocrypha, of course. I have here the ebook version of Richard L. Boyer’s The Giant Rat of Sumatra, part of the wonderful line The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – because as an heterodox Sherlockian, I like Apocrypha, a lot.
And then there’s the worst special effect in human history the giant rat (of Sumatra?) that faces Tom Baker as a very Holmesian Fourth Doctor in Talons of Weng-Chiang.

But now I was researching the Giant Rat of Sumatra for Hope & Glory (because injokes are a good thing), and it turns out that there actually is a giant Sumatrese rodent, the Large Bamboo Rat, Rhizomys sumatrensis, that happens to be a big fat rat indeed- according to Wikipedia, individuals can reach lengths of nearly 50 cm (20 in) with a 20 cm (7.9 in) tail, and weigh up to 4 kilograms (8.8 lb).
And to add further pulp goodness to this fine specimen of Sumatran fauna, the thing is venomous, being the natural host for the Penicillum marneffei, a mold that causes fever and anaemia, and then death, in infected humans.
Isn’t nature wonderful?

And now, the true story of the Giant Rat of Sumatra, from the man himself… well, part of it…


  1. but I was once one of the Hounds of the Internet 
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Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

23 thoughts on “A story for which the world is not yet prepared

  1. Gotta love a bit of Sherlock! πŸ™‚

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  2. Nice content Man, I am still watching Sherlock Holmes.

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  3. I love Sherlock! Great post! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I also love Sherlock Holmes stories. This is one great post…..worth sharing πŸ™‚

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  6. How can you hate Watson? I don’t understand? Is it because he was a doctor, perhaps an intellectual?

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    • No, I hate the fact that he is so incredibly dull and banal. Holmes is a very exciting character, he’s dashing and brainy at the same time, and he has a subtle sense of humor…
      Mind you, Watson “works” as a character, because his being unexceptional helps make Holmes look even more exceptional. Watson is a good literary device – but as a person? No, a man that thinks the news of the death of a woman in a train wreck (Irene Adler) should be celebrated is not my kind of character.

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  7. It looks like a great story!

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  8. Nice we all love Sherlock here

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  9. I love Sherlock! Great post! Even now, I still watch the tv series and become fascinated by sherlock.

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  10. I love the way Sherlock Holmes approaches things, not stumbling on the surface of them, but digging up for the hidden, his incredible spirit of observation and his inquiring mind. He was a source of inspiration for me years ago when I first read about him and saw the first movies. I might go back and read again, thanks for reminding me about such a great character.

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    • You are welcome.
      I think we all were struck as kids by Holmes’ skill in truly seeing what was going on.
      He is a magic character, really – almost a superhero – but with mundane, “real” powers.

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  11. Sherlock Holmes is still such a great legend/story today! I still Love it! Thanks for sharing! -Karen http://www.eastcoastcontessas.com

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  12. I think Sherlock is so successful because of Watson character, as well…
    Anyway – the best detective character ever written… It’s always great to go back to Sherlock…

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