It’s hard to relate how much I enjoyed The Game is Afoot: Parodies, Pastiches and Ponderings of Sherlock Holmes, edited by Marvin Kaye. This 1994 anthology is packed with Holmes pastiches and analyses that I have to imagine was well received when it was released in the early days of the world wide web.
Back in those stone tablet days, it might be difficult, unless you were a Baker Street Irregular or belonged to a scion society or subscribed to the Baker Street Journal, to find all the obscure pastiches contained in this anthology. A casual Sherlockian might have read The Adventure of the Circular Room by August Derleth, but how many people would know Sherlock Holmes Umpires Baseball, written anonymously and published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 1906.
Of course, some of the early pastiches aren’t very good, but the good ones leaven the bad and all are short. Well known contributors include Derleth previously mentioned, Craig Shaw Gardner, John Dickson Carr, Anthony Boucher, Vincent Starrett and Manly Wade Wellman. Slightly more unusual contributors include O. Henry, Daniel Pinkwater, ZaSu Pitts (ZaSu Pitts!) and even Arthur Conan Doyle himself.
A few of the ponderings were ponderous and unfortunately this includes Kaye’s own contribution, The Histrionic Holmes, which examines Holmes’ likely theatrical background. It’s an interesting take, just a bit long and probably didn’t need to be quite as exhaustive. I did appreciate his listing of the six “performances” of Doctor Watson; and I thought Kaye’s speculation about one of Holmes’ greatest performances, which links him to Doyle’s Professor Challenger story The Lost World, to be inspired.
I heartily recommend adding this book to your collection. It’s incredible value for money, even though it does mean squinting your eyes at night—the type is small to contain so many interesting stories. My husband bought this for me at The Hermitage Book Shop in Denver, but you can still order it from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.