Tag Archives: Solar Pons

‘From the Notebooks of Dr. Parker’ – A New Entry!

 Pons_MyLibraryAugust Derleth wrote a “From the Notebooks of Doctor Parker” piece for 1965’s Praed Street Papers, a rare little gem of Ponsiana by the author. It was reissued in a somewhat revised format in 1968 as A Praed Street Dossier and I’m fortunate to own a copy of that one (it’s the unadorned, black-covered one in the bottom row, next to an original Pontine Dossier. It’s an absolute treasure.

Derleth wrote two more sets of ‘Notebooks’ entries for early issues of The Pontine Dossier, the newsletter of The Praed Street Irregulars. Apparently not lacking in hubris, I wrote new ‘Notebooks’ entries for a few issues of The Solar Pons Gazette, my own Pons newsletter, created to fill the hole left by the cessation of The Dossier. I think I’ve written about 9,000 words of ‘Notebooks entries,’ which ain’t bad.

And, to go ahead and Play the Game… 

I was recently looking through my collection of miscellaneous papers and found a bundle of papers, mixed in with some notes on the cases of Flaxman Low. I was pleasantly surprised to discover they were as yet unread (by me) excerpts from the notebook of Solar Pons’ Boswell, Doctor Lyndon Parker! I have already published some of his Notebooks writings, but these were new to me. Here is one such entry, with a truly startling revelation! More to follow…

October 2, 1921

I was surprised at Pons’ visitor today: his younger brother, Winford. The junior is an Anglican priest! He is being sent to work in the Jamaican colonies and came by to say goodbye to his brother.

 After his departure, I observed that Winford had taken a very different path than the ones followed by his elder brothers. Pons sighed. “Indeed, Parker. As my father had little to bestow upon Bancroft, once it became obvious his faculties were rare indeed, a career in government service was sought for my older brother. There was some discussion of my entering the military, but I was determined to set out on my own path, leading me to become the private enquiry agent which you so ably assist.”

 “But from an early age, Winford felt a spiritual calling. I rely on facts, empirical data and supportable deductions as my lodestones. Winford, however, relies on an ethereal faith to guide him.”

 “But Pons,” I protested. “I have heard you say that there is more to the world than we can yet explain.”

 He waved a hand of dismissal. “Of course, Parker. We are not all-knowing. But that applies in instances that cannot be explained in a secular way. My brother does not deny logic. But that is not his foundation. His faith cannot be validated or proven. I could not practice my profession if I approached it from his vocation’s viewpoint.” He paused and shook his head. “Though there is that Irishman, Byrne, who fancies himself the world’s foremost religious consulting detective.” He gave a short, barking laugh.

 I nodded but remained silent. Pons had not even told me of a younger brother and I wanted him to continue talking about him.

 “I follow the evidence where it leads. But as Scotland Yard does all too often, Winford begins with a conclusion and looks for evidence to support it.” Pons reached out and took his pipe from the side table and busied himself with lighting it. I waited expectantly, hoping for more, but he was finished talking about his brother.

 I would only encounter Winford once more, when the tragic affair of the fiery tobacco plantation took us to Jamaica at his brother’s request.

Vincent Starrett on Holmes

Starrett_221BThere are a few names that stand above all others in the Sherlockian world. Edgar Smith, founder of the Baker Street Irregulars, of course. Christopher Morley and Father Ronald Knox loom huge.

Vincent Starrett, one of the great bookmen of the twentieth century is another. Today over at BlackGate.com, The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes looks at two Starrett collections The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and 221B: Studies in Sherlock. Both were part of Otto Penzler’s classic Sherlock Holmes Library.

Starrett was a huge Solar Pons fan and even wrote introductions to two of the short story collections. One is an intro that should be looked at as a standard in the field.

And he was a great supporter of Derleth in the latter’s battle with the Doyle brothers in publishing The Adventures of Solar Pons.

Catching up on Black Gate

Dorak_BookI continue to post over at Black Gate every Monday morning. I just might make it to two straight years! Along with my ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ column, I toss in an occasional RPG-related post and I’m still helping with the ‘Discovering Robert E. Howard’ series.

Recently, I went back-to-back with posts on Solar Pons (the guy this site is named after!). The Dorak Affair drew heavily on a real-life archaeological scandal. And I also wrote a post that looked at how August Derleth manged to successfully write Sherlock Holmes pastiches during the hard-boiled era.

I LOVE J.R.R. Tolkien’s word building and history development in ‘The Silmarillion’ and wrote about one piece of it regarding the famed ‘Necklace of the Dwarves.’

Continue reading

Robert Bloch – Poet

BlochRobert Bloch is best known as the author of Psycho, which became a spine-chilling movie by Alfred Hitchcock. He authored several books and short stories. He also was a fan of the Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street. In fact, he even wrote a poet about Pons, working several well-known detectives and private eyes in. So, I give  you, Robert Bloch’s A Toast To Solar Pons.

We don’t dispute the toil
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Invested in creating Sherlock Holmes;

And Miss Marple, fat and frisky,
Thanks to Miss Agatha Christie
Appears in a variety of tomes.

And a MacDonald – Ross –
Is never at a loss
For getting Archer into quite a bind;

While MacDonald’s namesake – John D. –
Created Travis McGee
Whose problem is that he is color-blind.

Wolfe, Poirot and Vance
Perchance enhance romance
Detection and deduction are their field;

And while Philip Marlowe guzzles,
Charlie Chan solves Chinese puzzles
And Perry Mason’s cases aren’t appealed.

But we salute a sleuth
Who dignifies, in truth,
The mantle of the master that he dons;

All the others, irrespective,
Must defer to our detective-
So, gentlemen-I give you -Solar Pons!

Sidney Paget, The Illustrated Holmes & Solar Pons


Sidney Paget himself, with some of his famous creations, drawn by Holmes illustrator extraordinaire Phil Cornell

A few weeks ago, The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes post over at http://www.BlackGate.com was about Holmes illustrator Sidney Paget. The information pretty much came from my essay, The Illustrated Holmes.

The 2014 issue of my free, online Holmes newsletter, Baker Street Essays, consisted primarily of that essay, which is one of the more useful pieces of Sherlockiana I’ve written. It led off with a short essay about Vincent Starrett’s Evolution of a Profile.

If you’re at all interested in the various artists that illustrated Doyle’s stories as they appeared, I think you’ll enjoy that issue.

Tonight, it occurred to me that The Illustrated Pons would be a natural for the 2016 Solar Pons Gazette. Frank Utpatel, Stefanie K. Hawks, Les Edwards and some people I haven’t identified yet haven’t been written about yet.

I think this one is definitely coming.


Solar Pons – I named this blog after him

Pons_MyLibraryThis blog is named Almost Holmes. You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to know that. And most of my posts are Holmes-related. But the name is really meant to be about Solar Pons.

You can go to Amazon, type Sherlock Holmes, and an almost uncountable number of stories by authors not named Arthur Conan Doyle will come up.

Some are very good, some are very bad, and others fall in between. I happen to think that August Derleth’s Solar Pons is the best Holmes pastiche you will find. For the most part, it’s not even debatable.

This post I wrote for my The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes column over at the Black Gate website is a pretty good overview of Pons. And if you want to delve a bit more deeply into “the Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street,” SolarPons.com is the only website dedicated to him.

I would love to see Les Edwards draw some more Pons

I would love to see Les Edwards draw some more Pons

Another Black Gate post I wrote looked at the four science fiction Pons tales that Derleth wrote with Mack Reynolds and I think it’s worth a read. We’ve even got a growing Facebook community, with over 130 members (I was just hoping to reach 20 when I started it).

The Pons tales are not out in ebook form, and the last major reissue of Derleth’s stories was by Pinnacle circa 1974. So, you need to look a little (but not too much) for used copies of a few of the collections. But if you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan, there’s a treasure trove of stories out there for you to discover. Come, Parker, the game’s afoot!

Lately over at Black Gate…

PreTwenties_BaffledIf you’ve visited SolarPons. com (and you have, right???), you know that the heart of the site are the Case Commentaries on the August Derleth stories. Some day, I’ll get to the Copper tales! Well, I gave The Bruce Partington Plans the Case Commentary treatment a few weeks ago for The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes.

Then, it was a look at Sherlock Holmes on film before the Stoll series starring Eille Norwood. With a few exceptions (need to bone up on Clive Brook), I’ve written a pretty informative history of Holmes films up to Basil Rathbone.

Last week, I shared ‘Why Solar Pons’, my favorite self-penned piece of Pons writing.

BrucePTwidle2I’m a fan of the Pathfinder role playing game system. I asked Dave Gross, author of the latest Pathfinder novel, to write a guest post on his series starring Varrian Jegarre and Radovan. He wrote an amusing post on how he pitched this series, which is a mix of fantasy and mystery. He mentions Holmes and Watson all over it.

And I’m happy to say that the first post in the three-part look at Granada’s Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, was the second-most popular post on Black Gate in May (out of 128). The second in the series was seventeenth: folks still love Jeremy Brett!

Tomorrow, I move back into the hard boiled genre with the man who invented it, Carroll John Daly.

The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes – Catching up

I got so wrapped up in finishing the 2014 Solar Pons Gazette I forgot to post The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes updates!

Pons_ReynoldsThis week, I made my second post about Pons, looking at his collaborations with sci-fi author Mack Reynolds.

The week before, I looked at some Christmas stories featuring a certain detective residing at 221B Baker Street.

If you are looking for a laugh out loud fun game to play with two or more friends, check out Munchkin.

On November 17, I brought Solar Pons to Black Gate with an introductory article.

Prior tot that, I took another stab at ‘playing the Game’ with The Abbey Grange. Was Holmes fooled by a pretty face?

And I got to scratch my RGPing itch with a post on a third edition campaign setting, Warlords of the Accordlands.

So, I’ve remained busy with the column. Check in every Monday morning and see what’s up next.

The Solar Pons Gazette is back!

This blog’s name, ‘Almost Holmes,’ refers to my interest in Solar Pons, the Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street. Of course, a solely Pons (see what I did there?) site would be pretty unrealistic. So, lots of Holmes and other subjects.

But I do stay active in the Pons world with occasional updates to http://www.SolarPons.com (the world’s only Pons-centric website), posts to my Pons FB page and new issues of The Solar Pons Gazette.

The Gazette is my free, online newsletter dedicated to Pons. It picked up the mantle from The Pontine Dossier, last published in 1977. There were two Gazettes in 2006, two in 2007 and one in 2008. I wrote about 95% of each issue. And the Gazette went on hiatus when I took a long Pons break after that 2008 issue.

My Pons flame sparked again in 2013 and I put out a new Gazette in late December.

And on November 20 of 2014, issue eight of the Gazette went live on at SolarPons.com. This issue had essays from several contributors and marks the first new collection of Pons writings (other than all mine) since that 1977 Dossier.

So swing on over to the site and check it out. There’s also some big news about the 2015 Gazette, which will also make its mark.

Solar Pons is alive and well on the internet: if not at bookstores and ereaders…


Pons_Adventures1And today, The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes finally tackles Solar Pons! There will be future posts, delving into more specific Ponsian topics, but today, we open the door.

Last week, I took another stab at ‘playing the Game’ with The Abbey Grange. Was Holmes fooled by a pretty face?

And I got to scratch my RGPing itch with a post on a third edition campaign setting, Warlords of the Accordlands.