Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Getting Your Name on the Books

The Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes named some new members this week at their autumn meeting, with a lot of familiar names on the list. Congratulations all 'round on that, because  . . . well, in American Sherlockiana, getting your name on the lists, be it BSI or ASH, is something most of us aspire to. Is it because we don't have knighthoods and such over here?

I don't know. But getting your name on those lists, announced and preserved more than those of any other Sherlockian club, has long been a mile marker, as well as a "blue check mark" that some editors of collections like to use to show that they've got contributors of note.

Are the letters "BSI" or "ASH" our own blue check mark? Could the head of one of those organizations pull a Elon Musk and just start selling those titles like some Scottish lord title you can buy with a square foot of land? It could happen, if the wrong billionaire ever gets their hands on the reigns, I guess. The "benevolent dictator" thing does have its dangers.

The digital age has certainly showed us how things can change, very dramatically. Getting your name on the books . . . the actual books, as in seeing your name on the spine of a book . . . used to be a very hard thing to do. Vanity publishers did exist, if you wanted to invest hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. But you couldn't just upload something to Amazon with the only investment being owning a computer with the right software and taking the time to put something book-ish together.

Yet all of these things still have the same core they've had from day one: Loving Sherlock Holmes (and hopefully John Watson) and wanting to express that love in the greatest way possible. One way to look at the bestowing of investitures in the Baker Street Irregulars or Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes is as the finish line in Sherlockian achievement, but I think I might prefer to look at them as "taking your vows" in some religious order, a statement of future committment. For what are the BSI and ASH if not brothers, sisters, and gender-non-specific siblings in the Order of Sherlock Holmes?

Perhaps I puzzle over the common customs of Sherlockiana too much on occasion, but, hey, it's what we socially awkward sorts tend to do out of habit. And, like those customs themselves, it's one more way of celebrating the deerstalkered figurehead at the center of it all.

1 comment:

  1. Never aspired to being listed or initialed, though I think that I am - somewhere.