Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Doctor Who

The second season (well, for Americans, anyway) of the new series premiers this Friday, Sept. 29th, at 8 p.m., on the Sci-Fi Channel.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Strange Suicides

What can I say? Actually, I just stumbled across this while working on another project, and since, between work and grad. school, I've been too swamped for a long entry, I thought I would mention it now. This is actually the second of two issues and contains the article: "Men Who Should Have Committed Suicide." Hard to believe it didn't last.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sherlock Holmes' Neighbor

Sherlock Holmes was not the only detective to reside in Baker St. He shared both that now famous street and even some of his own popularity with Sexton Blake, a private detective based in no small way upon the Master. Often referred to as "the office boy's Sherlock Holmes", Blake's career actually began in the penny dreadfuls of the late 19th century (specifically, the Halfpenny Marvel), continued with the pulp magazines of the early 20th century, and persisted in cheap paperback editions. Truly, Blake's trajectory from 1893 to 1970 spans almost the entire history of pulp fiction publishing.

Like Sherlock Holmes, Blake utilized his superior deductive abilities while solving his cases and was assisted by his sidekick, Tinker. Where he differs from Holmes is in his equal reliance upon his physical abilites. Though Holmes was no weakling (see The Speckled Band) and was an excellent boxer (The Solitary Cyclist), his cases are not nearly as action-packed as the average Sexton Blake thriller, which typically relies on the conventional pulp fiction cliff hangers and daring escapes. While Holmes has his Moriarty (in 3 stories), Blake grapples with a variety of Dick Tracy-style villians. My paricular favorite (and evidently the favorite of many others, as well) being Zenith, an elegant, opium smoking albino (trust me, he's more intimidating than that suggests), introduced in the Oct. 25th, 1919, issue of The Union Jack Library, which was Blake's home at the time.

Many of Sexton Blake's exploits can be found online, and the best place to begin is here:

Mark Hodder's Blakiana page contains a wealth of e-texts, information, and links and is beautifully designed, as well. It is a perfect tribute to one of England's most popular, fictional sleuths.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Just a Few Further Thoughts

In my last post, I mentioned August Derleth's, Place of Hawks, a collection of interwoven novellas, set in Wisconsin that have a dark and moody atmosphere similar to some of Faulkner's regional fiction but without the self-conscious experimentalism. However, I neglected to provide any bibliographic data. The collection was originally published by Loring and Mussey in 1935, but since the publisher has long ago closed shop and since this was Derleth's first published book, this edition is rather scarce and dear. It would probably be easier to obtain the anthology Wisconsin Earth (ISBN 837146968), which includes not only Place of Hawks but a novel and journal, as well. Cheaper still and in print is Jim Stephens' An August Derleth Reader (ISBN 1879483114), which includes one of the stories and a great cross-sampling of all Derleth's work. I didn't mention this information earlier, because I did not have these books at hand and was too lazy to retrieve them. There is an online resource, though, for this sort of information and much more. The August Derleth Society is comprised of scholars, fans, and even friends of the author who are dedicated to keeping green the memory of this writer. Membership is quite cheap and includes a subscription to the society's newsletter.

In the last post, I also mentioned Derleth's involvement with H.P. Lovecraft, but I forgot to mention the below web page:

It's a bit of fan fiction regarding Solar Pons' encounters with the "Cthulhu Mythos". Enjoy.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Soon after I'd composed my post about Zeppelin Stories, I discovered what should prove to be a fantastic pulp reprint: Lester Dent's Zeppelin Tales (Heliograph 2006, ISBN 1930658206). Dent is famous for his contribution to the hero pulps--Doc Savage, Man of Bronze--who followed Street and Smith's first great pulp hero creation, the Shadow.

I would also like to point out that August Derleth wrote much more than Sherlock Holmes pastiches. He is also famous for writing pastiches based upon the work of H.P. Lovecraft and even started, with Donald Wandrei, his own press, Arkham House, to publish HPL's work between hardcovers for the first time. As Bill pointed out in his earlier comments, Derleth's pastiches are not estimated very highly by many Lovecraft fans, and Bill's Brian Lumley recommendation is spot-on, as usual. Derleth also wrote several works of regional fiction and nonfiction set in his native Wisconsin, the short story collection, Place of Hawks, being an excellent example.

Coming soon: Sexton Blake.