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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The World is NOT Big Enough

“The world is big enough for us,” Sherlock Holmes said in “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire.” Fortunately, pastiche writers don’t always agree.

I just acquired and read The Science-Fictional Holmes, edited by Robert C. Peterson, although I’d read some of the stories in it previously. It’s a great collection – although a short one – published in 1960 by The Council of Four, a scion society of the Baker Street Irregulars. The seven stories give us alien Holmes wannabes, out-of-this world solutions to crimes, and a post-apocalyptic world in which the Canon has become Sacred Writ.  

The authors are Anthony Boucher, Poul Anderson (with and without Gordon R. Dickson), Mack Reynolds and August Derleth, and H. Beam Pipe and John J. McGuire. Most of these tall tales originally appeared in science fiction magazines, and rightly so.

Anderson’s “The Marian Crown Jewels” may be the most well-known story in the book. Boucher wrote the introduction and two of the stories.  The Reynolds-Derleth contributions include two of their four Solar Pons science fiction stories.

This is by no means the only collection of Holmes pastiches that venture into science fiction, fantasy, and/or horror, but it is the first. For good reason, this volume is included in John Bennet Shaw’s legendary “Basic Holmesian Library.”

I bought my copy from the BSI Trust, via Denny Dobry. Denny has a vast storehouse of donated goodies for sale at great prices to benefit the Trust – editions of the Canon, scholarship, pastiches, Sherlockian journals, posters, comics, and reference materials. Send a want list and e-mail address to dendobry@ptd.net and Denny will periodically send you an updated inventory.

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