An idea that's been brewing in my head since I saw Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr., is a steampunk adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Sherlock Holmes, of all the public domain works, has always appealed to me most for an app/book adaption. There are many stories and lots of opportunities for fun interactions. In addition, Sherlock Holmes remains one of the biggest selling book series in history.
I've been in love with the idea of steampunk since I first read The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling about 10 years ago. The Difference Engine was about an alternate reality in the Victorian age. The idea is that Babbage's Difference|Analytical Engine was actually built and ushered in the computer age about 100 years earlier than in reality.
It's a fascinating story and I think to a large extent this book defined the entire Steampunk genera. Since then steampunk has taken on a life of its own with people doing jewelry, art work, and costumes based on the fusion of Victorian fashions and advanced steam and clockwork technologies. There are many sub-generas. Anyway, you can read more about at the Wikipedia article on the subject.
Combining Sherlock Holmes with Steampunk aesthetic would be really awesome in my opinion. I would have one of the stories adapted to a Steampunk era with lots of cool gadgets and a CSI kind of approach. It would be so fun to create and it could be a hit, or a total flop, but either way I don't have to wait for copyright permissions to move forward with it. After spending months chasing Lord of the Rings and then Dune actually working on something would be welcome.
Here is my plan as its has formed thus far in my head: I will hire a illustrator/artist to create the characters, devices, and environments which will be part of the book. I'll also hire an author to adapt one of the Sherlock Holmes stories to the Steampunk genera. I'll try to convince my favorite Art Director, Pam Mariutto, to work with me on the design of the book and I will do all the coding myself.
To fund the project I will go to Kickstarter.com, which is a social funding site that has helped lots of artists (yes, I think of this as art) by providing them with funds with few strings attached (except for cool gifts for nice donations). This project seems like a natural for Kickstarter.com - I feel confident that people will see the value of the project and want to help out. I'll use the funds to pay the artist and writer. I'll do the coding and design without charge and share the revenue with Pam Mariutto if she decides to work on the project.
There are dozens of Sherlock Holmes stories to choose from but one of my favorites, only because its the one in which Watson and Holmes meet, is "A Study in Scarlet". Although Holmes has a bum leg from being shot in a war in all the other stories, in "A Study in Scarlet" - the first Sherlock Homes story - he has a wounded arm. I think the need for a mechanical arm is far more interesting then a mechanical leg so I'm going to keep it that way.
As far as the flavor of Steampunk - I'm shooting for something very close to the premiss on which The Difference Engine was written but with women who are more liberated (so they can carry fire arms and fight like Buffy). I've even thought of making Holmes or Watson a Woman with a kind of love interest. Of course all of this is an abomination to hardcore Sherlock Holmes fans but I don't see them as being my audience. I'm more interested in adults and young adults who would enjoy this kind of adaptation.
What is really nice about the Sherlock Holmes-Steampunk adaptation is that the stories are shorter than full novels - many of them - and there are many stories. If the first Steampunk Holmes app/book is a success I'll have plenty more material to follow up with. I really love this idea and it brings me back to my roots nearly a year ago when the first app/book I started designing was a straight Sherlock Homes story (i.e. Sherlock Holmes HD).
I'm so stoked about this idea that I've already placed adds on Elance looking for an artist and writer. I'm also sending out an email plea to Pam Mariutto to join me on what I thin will be a really fun and rewarding project.
As soon as I find an artist and get some imagery to work with I'll post the project on Kickstarter.com and hopefully raise the capital needed to develop Steampunk Holmes . Btw - I now own the domain SteampunkHolmes.com and I may even apply for the trademark.
Note: The photos above are just examples how characters might look - I took them from the web.