The Complete Sherlock Holmes is just a book.
Sherlock Holmes is just a character in a story.
Just a movie, just a TV show, just a hobby . . . . there are so many ways to belittle a person's enthusiasm for something, if their passion for it gets in your way. Don't get upset if something to do with Sherlock seems wrong to you, if someone is twisting that tale to suit their own ends, if some blowhard starts spouting ridiculous inaccuracies . . . it's just a silly set of stories after all.
It's amazing how often that sort of argument is used even in fannish circles, where both parties have spent a significant portion of their lives devoted to exploring a single subject like Sherlock Holmes. It's not like Sherlock is a cure for cancer or something, right?
As of this moment, however, we don't have a complete and total cure for cancer. We do have Sherlock Holmes. We've had him for well over a hundred years, and he's done a lot of good in that time. He's inspired forensic scientists. He's given several gifted writers a boost off the ground with a first novel. He's offered logical comfort in an often incomprehensible world.
Just a book. Now, saying The Bible is just a book doesn't quite give a comparison that even makes sense to most, as that particular book has risen beyond bookness in a couple of millennia or so. But let's take something from the dark side: Mein Kampf. Ever read it? Ever going to read it? Why not? It's just a book, after all.
A book, be it fact or fiction, begins as a set of ideas. And if ideas aren't powerful enough, sometimes a book becomes symbol of what those ideas can do, or did do. We tend to take the books sold on the "fiction" side of the store a little more lightly than the ones on the non-fiction side, but ideas are ideas, whether they're cast in dates and details or captured in a metaphoric tale.
Stories like those of Sherlock Holmes don't stay with us for more than a century because they're simply entertaining. We have all sorts of entertainments, new ones showing up every day. But the ones that stick in our craw, the ones we feel we have to tell others about, those stories touch us in ways we know are important, even if we don't know exactly what that importance is.
We don't just love Sherlock Holmes for no reason. Even if we can't put it into words, we know a reason is there, and it's an important reason, one we can feel deep in our bones. And if someone who doesn't feel the basic truths of Sherlock deep in their bones wants to say, "They're just stories," well, maybe they are . . . to them.
To the rest of us? Well, we'll decide those things for ourselves, thank you very much.
Just a book. Pfffft.