I was listening to an old Harlan Ellison interview, last night, and he was saying that if you want to get a proper education, you have to read the Canon, that is, all the Arthur Conan Doyle stories about Sherlock Holmes.
Those will set you straight, Ellison said, because they are stories about the power of rationality, the power of observation. And they teach you that there are no mysteries if you pay attention.
And I think it’s a sound suggestion.
Hell, you can’t go wrong with “Read Sherlock Holmes!”
I am not a Sherlockian – or I am not anymore. I used to be one of the Hounds of the Internet, an old mailing list/reading group born when you still had to use a dial-up connection to go online.
But while not being a committed Sherlockian, I have read all of the stories, once or twice at least, and also a few pastiches. I love Seven Percent Solution, and A Study in Terror, and have a few collections of apocrypha.
I saw all or most of the movies and the telefilms – except the modern adaptations, the ones featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Dee Miller respectively.
I like my Holmes the old way.
And I could spend long hours debating Rathbone and Cushing and Jeremy Brett and all the rest. I even sort of like the Robert Downey Jr. take on the character, even if it turns him too much into a superhero – which is the thing I don’t like about the modern adaptations/updates. Holmes is exceptional but still human, and his powers of observation and deduction are not the sort of “magic” that the TV series tend do show sometimes.
Anyway, yes, do like Harlan Ellison said, read yourself some Holmes.
And as luck would have it, this morning my friend Marina made me aware that, for reasons unknown but welcome, Amazon.it was selling Shadows Over Baker Street for 99 cents in ebook.
And I bought it.
The collection, edited by Michael Reaves and John Pelan, features Lovecraftian tales about Holmes, by authors such as Neil Gaiman, Caitlìn R. Kiernan, Brian Stableford, Steve Perry, Tim Lebbon and Barbara Hambly, and many more.
Each author tackles a year in the canonical life of Holmes.
Looks like the good thing to have handy in these long summer afternoons when the heat and the humidity force me to stop writing.
Get thyself some Holmes! the man said. And I did.