The Paradox Series

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Title: The Paradox Series
Author(s): wordstrings
Date(s): August 1, 2010 - present
Length: 98,862 (so far)
Genre: slash
Fandom: Sherlock (BBC)
External Links: (original master post, deleted)
series page on AO3
PDF/ePub/mobi download (all stories in one file)

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The Paradox Series is a very popular series of Sherlock/John stories by wordstrings that explores the ups and downs of a romantic relationship where one partner is a genius sociopath. The series is ongoing, but each story can stand on its own.

Although much of Sherlock (BBC) fanfic assumes that the character of Sherlock is a sociopath, The Paradox Series is notable for focusing on this aspect of his character and imagining how it would affect him and his relationships. The stories also explore what John's attachment to Sherlock says about John.

The stories have been podficced by FayJay,[1] bronwynferchdai,[2] revolutionaryjo,[3] and Songlin.[4] Other fans have made art, fanvids and fanmixes (see below). Portions of the series have also been translated into French[5] and Vietnamese.[6]


In posting order:

  1. An Act of Charity
  2. The Paradox Suite
  3. The Death and Resurrection of the English Language
  4. Entirely Covered in Your Invisible Name
  5. New Days to Throw Your Chains Away
  6. Wider Than a Mile
  7. A Thousand Threads of What-Might-Have-Beens
  8. The Dying of the Bees

Note: These were originally posted to LiveJournal, but wordstrings subsequently deleted her account due to being overwhelmed by the comments received.[7] The series is currently available on the Archive of Our Own.


In 2011 annajcook did an extensive review of the series. Portions are excerpted below; to read the full text go here, Archived version.

Personally, I'm drawn in by a few particular aspects of the way Wordstrings writes. The first is her ability with dialog and interior dialog. Her characters speak with very particular rhythms, and very human rhythms. Their sentences are fragments, faltering. Backing up and beginning again as the characters struggle to put language to their emotions and order to their thoughts. This is true for both John and Sherlock, though in utterly distinct voices.

The second thing I'm captivated by is the interiority of the narratives, the attention to detail. This makes me think that Wordstrings is (or has been) a poet, because her narrative prose has a lilt to it, a rhythm. And her language is very visual -- it has texture and precision the way my poetry professor years ago in undergrad used to encourage us to write. This fic explores the world of the senses. Something that both makes sense in terms of the way Sherlock makes sense of the world (what else is he but a creature of his senses?) and is also incredibly sensual. Because it encourages us to move into a mode where we are conscious of sensory input.

Third, I am seduced by the depiction, in Paradox, of a relationship in which each partner puts an incredible amount of care and effort into understanding the person whom they love. Again: it's the attention to detail. For Sherlock, this means cataloging John. He observes, notes, narrates, explicates John's material and emotional landscape in a way that is often much more nuanced than John himself can manage (or cares to undertake). He documents. Which is -- in my opinion -- an act of love.
youreabloodycrimescene writes on tumblr:
The Paradox Series is probably the most heartbreakingly intense thing I’ve ever read. I’ve been reading it for two or three days now and I just finished the most recent installment, and I’m just sitting at my desk in a kind of shock and awe, and wishing that really amazing fanfiction got the kind of recognition that really amazing novels do, because goddamn, the author of this series really deserves it. I’m REELING over here.[8]
Keira Marcos explains:
Why You Should Read This: Because Sherlock is real and honest and horrible and great in this fic. The character work in this story speaks to his inability to be “normal” and the true beauty that can be found in his mind. This author ROCKED my world and I’m a very jaded reader.[9]

More reader reactions can be found in the Tumblr tags paradox series and the paradox series.

Fannish Inspirations

The author has welcomed and embraced other fannish creations in her universe: "Meanwhile, her default positions: if you are a fan of this lunatic LJ account and would like to friend, please do so. If you want to make podfic, art, icons, fanmixes, translations, or anything else based on the series, she's both staggered and flattered. Go right ahead, and thank you very, very much for spending any time here."


Fan Art



All of the stories in the series have been podficced. FayJay read stories 1-4, bronwyn read 5-6, revolutionaryjo read the 7th, and songlin read the 8th. The Multifandom Podfic Rec Blog on Tumblr has a masterlist of all the podfics and writes, "This was my first introduction to podfic, almost a year and a half ago, and I have listened to it so many times over I can mouth the words along with the readers. This story is my favorite work of literature ever written, and it's beautifully read."[14]


  1. ^ seriesact-of-charity on the Audiofic Archive
  2. ^ bronwynferchdai. PODFic - Sherlock BBC - New Days to Throw Your Chains Away, posted 10 February 2011
  3. ^ revolutionaryjo. Sherlock Podfic: A Thousand Threads of What-Might-Have-Beens, posted to the amplificathon community, 19 December 2011
  4. ^ songlinwrites. Podfic for The Dying of the Bees, part of the Paradox Series by Wordstrings. Tumblr post.
  5. ^ Un Acte Charitable by yminga, dated March 6, 2011.
  6. ^ [Sherlock BBC] Cái chết và sự hồi sinh của tiếng Anh 1/2 by Phỉ Thúy, dated October 26, 2011; WebCite.
  7. ^ wordstrings' ao3 profile, Archived version(Accessed 31 March 2013)
  8. ^ youreabloodycrimescene on tumblr posted dated Sept 7, 2011, accessed November 12, 2011.
  9. ^ A Thousand Threads of What-Might-Have-Beens by Wordstrings, Archived version Post dated March 6, 2011.
  10. ^ Strangelove: A Paradox Series Mix by oldblueshoes for the Paradox Series by wordstrings, dated March 6, 2011.
  11. ^ Give: A Paradox Series Mix by mresundance dated November 15, 2010.
  12. ^ To see the full list of Valentine Day cards: Valentines Cards (Sherlock BBC) by andrea_deer, dated January 18, 2011.
  13. ^ Vid: Of Paradox by mresundance, dated July 24, 2011
  14. ^ podficrec. Title: The Paradox Series, posted to Tumblr 10 December 2013. (accessed 17 May 2014)