I don't think the word "pastiche" gets used more by any other group of human beings than Sherlock Holmes fans. What's kind of amusing to me is that unlike the "elite devotee," pastiche commentators are usually use their very fine word to describe something they find of lesser quality. It's also kind of curious to me that one of my more (to my eyes) mundane blogs a couple of days ago got a few more eyes for being on that topic.
It's one of those topics that never becomes less controversial. Heck, I'd even argue with myself on that topic. When I was between 18 and 35, I read a ton of pastiche, both fan written and professional. Even wrote a bit myself. It's what an enthusiastic freshman Sherlockian does. Later, between ages 40 and 55, they just became very had to read . . . or maybe there just wasn't a writer taking to the keyboard who could quite excite my more jaded tastes. Nothing is ever quite so good as every single thing that occurs when we're young. Or so it seems sometimes.
But just because we might become old and jaded doesn't mean we're untouchable. Discovering BBC Sherlock was like that first read of the first Harry Potter for me, one of those moments when you know something special just occurred, when you feel little switches getting flipped in your very soul that don't often turn over. I know for certain that particular Holmes pastiche didn't do it for everyone. I can think of a few folks who didn't make it through the first episode. But I'm sure those fans have their triggers as well . . . heck, CBS's accursed Elementary might be their cola of choice. If you've ever been a fan of Holmes, there are some triggers in there somewhere, just waiting for the right finger to pull them.
Because we all started somewhere. And as much as we might rally around the Canon, the original sixty stories, as the source of all the Sherlock goodness, I would bet that most Sherlockians out there have gotten more hours of enjoyment out of Sherlock Holmes as presented by persons other than Conan Doyle, if the totals were added up and put into a pretty graph.
There is just so much Sherlock out there. And lots of fun to be had. Which is why pastiches are such a hot button issue with Sherlockians. We roll the dice every time we look into a new Sherlock Holmes. We might hit the jackpot, but most times we just lose our bet. Over time, a lot of us become bitter and leave the game rather than place another losing bet on another Sherlock.
These days there are so many more amateur productions easily available, thanks to Amazon and the like, books that often see less peer review before publishing than an old-school fanzine, the game can seem more like a state lottery than a spin of the roulette wheel. So many chances to lose your money on a bad guess. And yet, there's always the chance that somewhere in the million monkeys we're going to get a Shakespeare of Sherlock. So fans keep writing, and fans keep reading.
And when that Shakespeare of Sherlock does come along, you can bet that there's going to be at least one fan out there ready to say his work sucks, royally. Because fans are going to keep getting old and jaded in the process as well.