Sunday, March 6, 2016

At least 456,722 left to go!

Okay, help me on the math on this. Twenty-six to the fourth power . . . the number of possible combinations of four-letter abbreviations we can make using the twenty-six letters of the alphabet.


Sixty of those four-letter abbreviations have been used as shorthand by many a Sherlockian ever since Jay Finley Christ came up with them way back when. They're a little bit handy when you're referring to the original sixty cases of Sherlock Holmes at a pace when typing full titles will just slow your train of thought to an urban freight train docking pace.

But we're only using sixty of them.

60 out of 456,976.

That leaves 456,916 of them open for other use.

At some point, Peter Ruber and Ronald De Waal created another seventy-two similar abbreviations for the Solar Pons stories, like PRAE for "Praed Streeet Irregulars," BROK for "Broken Chessman," etc. that appear in places like The Solar Pons Gazette.  Solar Pons is one of the few Sherlock imitators to ever get his own spin-off Holmes groups, so it's easy to add those seventy-two to the pile.

And that leaves 456, 844.

And when Mary Russell came along, some fans of Laurie King's Holmes-work came up with their own set, like BEEK for The Beekeeper's Apprentice, MREG for A Monstrous Regiment of Women, etc. Since Mary Russell has appeared thirteen times, we can add those to the list.

Leaving 456,831.

And then we come to BBC Sherlock, with all the recent talk of ABOM for "The Abominable Bride," among its other episodes. Ten of those so far, but let's add the coming series four in just to leave room -- thirteen in total, then.

Down to 456,818.

Now that we're thinking ahead for Sherlock's fourth full season, why not take it one more step and add in CBS's Elementary just for fun. PILO for "Pilot," SLEE for "While You Were Sleeping," CHIL for "Child Predator," etc. At the end of the current season, we'll have ninety-six of those bad boys in the dumpster, so let's throw those in.

And here we stand at 456,722.

It's been a long time since grade school, so my math may be pretty bad here (not to mention the fact I did not include digits in my calculations . . . oops!), but the point is that we've got a whole lot of open space for more Sherlock Holmes, even if some of us continue to use four letter abbreviations as shorthand in our discussions of whatever incarnation of a Sherlock figure we choose. We can be Jay-Finley-Christing it into the far, far, future . . . one can even envision Mr. Data on that later starship Enterprise using four-letter abbreviations to denote his holodeck adventures pretending to be Sherlock Holmes.

Boy, do we have a lot to look forward to!

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