Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Back to Baker Street

Forget the purists, Calgary publisher keeps Sherlock Holmes evolving

Charles Prepolec did not want to add to the perception that Sherlock Holmes fans, or Sherlockians as they call themselves, are rigid and overly protective of their territory when it comes to interpretations of the famous detective.

But the Calgarian admits he has found it necessary to enforce at least one rule when gathering short stories for collections that mix Arthur Conan Doyle's famous Baker Street investigator with horror scenarios: Do not bring a certain serial killer into the mix.

"No Jack the Ripper stories," says Prepolec, one of the editors of Gaslight Grotesque: Nightmare Tales of Sherlock Holmes (Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, 336 pages,$16.95) "We see him in short stories so often, and novels. No Ripper stories."

After all, having Holmes face the historical slasher isn't exactly a new idea. With an encyclopedic knowledge of all-things Sherlockian, Prepolec and co-editor J.R. Campbell can rhyme off the more notable attempts to bring the two Victorian icons together. The 1979 film, Murder by Decree with Christopher Plummer and 1965's A Study in Terror with John Neville were among the high-profile trips to that particular well.

So if you want to get your story into one of the collections, you will need to find Mr. Holmes a more original opponent.

"There are some things you have to avoid," says Campbell, who also contributed two stories to the book. "Your stories still have to be exciting. There's a lot of pastiche that tends to be more style over storytelling. You have to avoid that. There's a lot of stories that bring in a historical person. Which is fine . . . if they have a place."

With the Christmas Day release of Sherlock Holmes, a high-octane blockbuster featuring smirking Yank Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role, it could be argued that this latest release of short stories is perfectly timed to cash in on what could be a full-blown resurgence.

But Prepolec and Campbell are hardly bandwagon jumpers. Gaslight Grotesque is the fourth book that has been put together featuring creepy Holmes tales and the second to be published by Calgary-based genre kings Edge Publishing. They are working on a fifth. Both are members of Calgary's Singular Society of the Baker Street Dozen, a group that has been getting together in one form or another since 1987 to discuss the constant evolution of Doyle's character in the pop-culture consciousness.

And both have fairly high standards when it comes to what they'll accept as additions to the Holmes legend. The 13 tales come from a wide variety of authors who hail from Canada, the U.K., the U.S. and Australia. The book has gotten some high-profile shout-outs from Canuck sci-fi king Robert J. Sawyer and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola.... (click to read the full article at the Calgary Herald)

1 comment:

Derrick said...

This collection sounds right up my street (or darkened alleyway!).
I see you mentioned the film with Robert Downey Jr - have you seen the new BBC production? I loved it, though Moriarty was a let down.
Look forward to checking out your book!