The View from Sherlock Peoria (70)
October 7, 2003
Sherlockian Flashback Week
This was a week to remind me of earlier times in the land of Sherlock. While Im not the sort of person who likes to dwell on those mythic "good old days, every now and then it helps to be reminded of those times that defined us, and made us who we are today.
When I came home from work on Thursday, two things were in my mailbox, amid the junk mail and newsletters from those sorts of organizations you never joined, but somehow claim you anyway. Those two things were a box from Amazon and the Autumn issue of The Baker Street Journal.
The box from Amazon contained two things, a Pimpernel book and a collection of Sherlockian pastichery. The former was part of an attempt to finish a reading quest started long ago, and the latter was a definite departure from normal: I havent bought a collection of Sherlockian pastiches for years. The reason for the change? This collection actually featured a few writers I would read even if they werent doing Holmes, and it also took an approach that big-publisher Holmes books havent done in a while: crossovers with other fictions.
In this case, the crossover was between Holmess world and that envisioned by H. P. Lovecraft. Sherlock Holmes in the Cthulhu mythos? You couldnt keep me away from that one with an arcane ritual and a cult of inbred amphibi-humans.
Unlike many a good Sherlockian, I didnt come to Holmes via the one true Conan Doyle source material. I started reading Holmes with Sherlock Holmess War of the Worlds by Manly Wade Wellman and Wade Wellman, followed by the a long string of adventures involving Sherlock Holmes meeting Dracula, Teddy Roosevelt, Hitler, Fu Manchu, etc.
I always loved a good crossover. Spiderman against Superman (heroes always have to scuffle for a bit when they meet), King Kong versus Godzilla (how could that ape have ever won that one?), Billy the Kid against Dracula, the crew of the Enterprise fighting the X-men . . . . and the 1970s were a great time for Sherlock Holmes crossovers, with Holmes meeting Sigmund Freud leading the charge in The Seven Per Cent Solution.
During the eighties and nineties, things turned all copyright-issues-and-Doylean-purists for a time. Maybe it was a reaction to the earlier crossover craziness, maybe it was even a second stage of growth for all the Sherlockians drawn in during those flashier times, as they rediscovered the depths of the original material. Whatever the case, Ive been a long time waiting for something like the new Shadows Over Baker Street to make a welcome reappearance and the really great part? This time crossover Holmes has the complete approval of the Doyle estate.
Looks like somebody finally realized that crossover Holmes doesnt necessarily lead people away from the one true Holmes. And if the Doyle estate can learn that lesson, maybe a lot of us old-school Sherlockians can learn to take it easy on Laurie Kings Mary Russell. Well, maybe . . . . .
The other notable thing in Thursdays mail was the latest issue of The Baker Street Journal, which printed an article that I wrote a couple years ago, entitled "A Day In The Life, A Day In The Times." Perhaps Ill get into the flashback part of getting published another day, but for this week, its time to get going.
Your humble correspondent,