Saturday, June 18, 2022

Sneakier booms for Sherlock Holmes

 Sometimes it seems like my blogging tendencies dive right toward comparing the past to the present. At a certain age, it's hard not to go that way. The world is different than it was, and we all have to adjust. The easy route is to go "Yeah, things were better in the good old days!" and feast upon nostalgia, but they weren't always better for everybody.

This morning I was thinking about the boom of the 1970s, after 29-year-old, pre-K (K for "Khan") Nicholas Meyer hit the New York Times bestseller list with The Seven-Per-Cent Solution. The evidence of Sherlock Holmes still having some power in the market set publishers on a book-publishing spree of Sherlock Holmes pastiches, some better some worse. Yet here's the thing: That book of the 1970s is a little baby boom compared to the amount of Sherlock Holmes being written and published today.

Is any one piece of Sherlockian fiction sellling as well as The Seven-Per-Cent Solution? Probably not.

Is the entire mass of new published Sherlockiana available to a reader larger than the new available Sherlockian fiction of the late seventies? Without a doubt.

As a new Sherlockian of the 1980s, I was reading every Sherlock Holmes book I could lay hands on. Even just Sherlock-related stuff like Everybody's Favorite Duck by Gahan Wilson. Bought it all, read it all. Because you could do that back then. It was possible. Today? in 2022? I'd like to meet the Sherlockian who reads the most fiction starring Sherlock Holmes and just see what their consumption numbers and titles look like. Have they read all of the Belanger Books collections? The "Warlock Holmes" series? Picked up the AU anthology The Only One in the World?  Barque Lone Star collections? Keeping up with David Marcum, Laurie R. King, Liese Sherwood-Fabre, Bonnie MacBird, Lyndsay Faye, etc., etc. etc.? Graphic novels? 

I'm not even touching fanfic repositories with that above, because I know even the most ardent devotee of reading online has come close to getting through that always-fresh universe of reading. Putting the simple filter of "published on paper" is the humble defense against infinity that I used in the previous paragraph. And even that proves completely inadequate in 2022. In 1982, we knew what it was to be hungry for Sherlock Holmes. Now? Perhaps there are some gourmets among the gourmands who want for something of a particular seasoning or with just the right flavor notes, but if Sherlock Holmes had calories, Doctor Watson would definitely be doing PSAs advising us to cut back.

What a difference forty years can make. Not sure which of us found the genie in the bottle and made the wish for all this, but, hey! Hope you're enjoying the wealth, you spoiled Sherlockian you!

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