Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The things we used to do.

The pre-internet, pre-Cumberbatch world of Sherlockiana might be hard to imagine for someone who came into this hobby in the last decade. There's a lot of old stuff to catch up on, more pastichery than any human can read, and the new just keeps on coming.

And all that makes me wonder if anyone is going to read Christopher Morley novels any more. Or Vincent Starrett's stuff, which was always a little harder to find. Or even Conan Doyle's non-Sherlock work.

Because it used to be that as a Sherlockian, you occasionally ran out of specifically-Sherlock things to do sometimes. Can you imagine?

Before Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and the thousand other ways to buy things on line, we actually had to go out into the world and find stuff about Sherlock Holmes. Unlike using the internet, it was actually possible to go on a massive, all-day, hundreds-of-miles quest for Sherlock and come up empty-handed.

Rather than come back empty-handed, a lot of times, we would just pick up anything at all with a Sherlockian connection. Find an old copy of Where the Blue Begins by Christopher Morley for a couple of bucks? Good enough. A book on British history? That would do. Yet another edition of Doyle's The White Company with a different cover? Sure.

It's why I have a John Kendrick Bangs collection, although I found Bangs more to my taste than some of the later ancillary Sherlockian authors. (And it did make it great fun when he appeared in the Alan Moore comic Promethea.) So many old bookshops had a single J.K. Bangs novel for sale and curiously enough, each store usually had a different one.

But looking at the deluge of material and the availability of a "search" function, I have to wonder if any Sherlockians from here on in are going to go down those sideroads. Will Morley be left to the few true Morley fans in some local region of New York that still celebrates his memory? Will there be new sideroads, as Sherlockians try to get a handle on all the things that occurred during the latest boom, the aftershocks of which have spread wider than anyone could have predicted?

And how deep into Doyle will the voracious readers go?

The future is made for curiosity, and I definitely have some about it.

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