One of the best bargains in Sherlockiana arrived in my mailbox Monday after I'd downloaded it for free the day before -- the Baker Street Almanac 2021. Having just gotten back from vacation with copies of Sherlock Holmes of Baking Street waiting for me, it may have not been such a big thing to get a new Holmes book in the mail, but Baker Street Almanac is really more than just a book.
It really taxes my brain just a little bit to try to take in what Baker Street Almanac is. Collections of essays and stories, one understands immediately. but "An Annual Capsule of a Timeless Past & Future," as the BSA subtitles itself? The wrapping, the enclosures -- I get the green bag it comes in this time, as greenbag.org is where you get the thing from, and the slide-off ribbon was much less complex than the string ties of past years, but the visors with an upside down "V" and "pscc" and "1901" on them?
More stuff to tax the brain!
Okay, 1901 is the year "Priory School" takes place, which is annotated within this year's Almanac. "ps" has to stand for "Priory School." But the "cc?" Charing Cross? Card club? Corn-chandlers? I suppose I'll have to read the almanac to find out. Ah, but there's the challenge!
Ross E Davies has assembled an ever-expanding team of editors, writers, and agreeable content creators in one place, and the diverse wealth of pure data they put between the covers of the almanac is, as I've said, a bit mind-boggling. It might seem to trend toward the Sherlockian old school, since the "new school" of our hobby is a bit nebulous, far-reaching, and . . . well . . . the book would go from mind-boggling to madness inducing. Could any one tome report on everything in the Sherlockian world in a single year, the way years have been lately? Life is just not as simple as it was in those olden times when The Baker Street Journal could pretty much keep up with our hobby by itself.
Of course, the absences are hard to notice in the deluge of info that the Baker Street Almanac showers the reader with. A critic only begins to challenge it after a first impression that it has near-omniscience, and who could expect God-level knowledge for the mere thirty dollar price tag of this production?
Having Peter Blau's Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press for the year all condensed in one place is divine enough, as Peter remains the best-informed among us, a position he's held for decades. Scion reporting from across the globe is only limited by having correspondents to report it all (and I shan't call out those groups I found notably absent, but wish they were there). Adding another annotated version of a Canonical tale each year is a treat (though I fear I won't survive until the Almanac completes its Canon), as are the other surprises that await the reader.
The Baker Street Almanac 2021 is a marvelous accomplishment now in its fourth year. Definitely a great resource for the old hand at this hobby, and a wealth of info for the newer Sherlockian if they are mentally prepared for it. (One could almost picture a total newb getting a little freaked out at the arcana and finding some easier to grasp fandom.) And the mere fact one can download it all for free at http://greenbag.org/almanacs/BS/bsa.html should really eliminate the need for any further review from a mere itinerant blogger. Go have a look for yourself!