Podcasts are legion now, and 2017 has brought a couple of new ones on old Canon to the Sherlockian fore: "I Grok Sherlock" out of Toronto and the just-announced "Trifles" from the "I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere" crew. But as much as a fan of podcasts as I am, this morning I find myself all about the Sherlockian discussions that take place live and in person.
Most of my experience with Sherlockian meet-ups in the past has been the varied styles of scion meetings that usually include food, can be at a restaurant or someone's home, include papers or presentations, possibly a quiz, and a lot of socializing. After well over thirty years at this hobby, now I'm actually discovering something new that I'm sure has previously existed in other places for a very long time: the library discussion group.
Meeting folks in a library to talk about Sherlock Holmes takes away the food and those ancillary folks who are just coming for drinks, dinner, or socializing, and really seems to focus matters more on the subject at hand. And unlike a book club, only seven percent of original Holmes works are novels, so the focus tends to get even better in devoting the time to a short story. And what perfect short stories they are for that focus!
My favorite podcasts, I've noticed, are the ones with multiple voices and multiple points of view, playing off each other in new and unexpected ways every episode, and what does one get with a good discussion of a Holmes tale with a table full of people?
That very thing.
Podcasts can be very entertaining, but their one-sided nature does have its downfalls. I've found I tend to dearly love Sherlockian podcasts about fanfic which I know nothing about, yet am never as happy with podcasts about Sherlockian topics I know too much about. When the podcasters stretch for some piece of data they don't have at hand (yet is right in the front of your brain) or make a statement that's completely wrong in the heat of the moment . . . and then elaborate on it . . . the inability to talk back can bring a little frustration. A good discussion group can give you all of the fun of a podcast, yet you're there to interact, ask questions, and enjoy the fun first-hand.
Don't get me wrong here -- I love podcasts. They've replaced radio for background listening for driving, chores, or anything else that doesn't command your full attention. And there's plenty of time between actual meet-ups for those. But, oh, a good Sherlockian discussion group!
I'd like to thank my St. Louis friends in the Parallel Cases for demonstrating to me that a library group could be a very stimulating environment for Sherlockian fun, as well as the Peoria folk who turned out last night to talk Sherlock. On to next month!