Saturday, 19 July 2014

Advance Review: A Scandal in Bohemia by Petr Kopl

Strange, eh? The book isn't even out yet. But I am one of the privileged few to see it (thank you, Steve Emecz and Petr Kopl), and I couldn't be happier. The funding of this comic book on Kickstarter has gathered well over thrice the amount aimed at. There's still time left, so it will probably cross four times the required amount. If you haven't booked your copy yet - do so right away here; I have a feeling all places stocking it would put up "sold out" boards within days of its release, and Steve will have to run to the press again to get the reprints out.

Anyhow - back to the matter at hand - the review. I have been wondering for a week now - what can I possibly say about this graphic novel that would do justice to the brilliance of its artwork, the cleverness of its adaptation and the sheer genius of the man behind it? The conclusion - anything I say will be inadequate. Anything anyone ever says will be inadequate - for there are no words in in the languages I know to measure or capture the "superlative" quotient of this book. I could start rattling off in alphabetical order - astounding, bedazzling, charming, delightful, elegant, fantastic, glamorous, humorous, impeccable, jolly, kaleidoscopic, lovely, magnificent, neat, outstanding, perspicacious, quick-witted, radiant, sophisticated, thoughtful, unique, vivid, witty, xtra-ordinary (well, I can't think of another with x), youthful and zany. No, it's not enough. It's not even close. You cannot measure the immeasurable. You can only revel in its glory. 

Surprisingly true to the canon (yes, true enough to satisfy even the most rigid of purists), the adaptation captures the spirit of every character so well, you would be drawn into the plot, whether you want to or not. Even if you know the canon by heart, you are in for a surprise - Petr seamlessly weaves two tales into this one (A Scandal in Bohemia and The Adventure of the Speckled Band) - with interesting results. Ingeniously placed cameos by well-known (and well-loved) literary characters as well as original Petr Kopl characters are a delight. Sherlock Holmes is a deadly combination of genius, sassy and adorable, Dr Watson is at his most virtuous and Irene Adler is drop-dead gorgeous (and smart).

I don't speak Czech, so I honestly can't say if anything has been lost in translation. From what I can see, the translators have done an amazing job - the dialogues are witty and amusing, and remarkably true to the canon. When I read the Czech version months ago, it was thanks to Google Translate - a bit tedious, but all right to get the gist - obviously, I missed the clever quips that the English version has now captured. I am very, very impressed. In any case, offers of translations in other languages have started flowing in (and this, before the book is out - can you imagine what it's going to be like when it is actually out?) - so if you speak neither Czech nor English, do not fret. Go ahead and take a look...and then ask Steve if your language is on his list yet.

You can't afford to miss this. Still need more reason? Here are a few:

  • To the Sherlockians out there, I say - this is the most gorgeous and intelligent adaptation of "A Scandal in Bohemia" I have ever seen. If Sir Arthur could see it, he would be overwhelmed. This is a must-have for the collection of every Sherlockian in the world. 

  • To the comic-lovers out there, I say - the artwork is immaculate. Rarely would come across such a talented artist. Every panel, every stroke is perfect. You will not be able to take your eyes off, I can guarantee.

  • To those fond of English literature, I say - the quirky and delightfully twisted literary references will leave you breathless. The more you read, the more you shall spot, and the cleverer you shall feel. 

  • To the brainiacs, puzzle-lovers and armchair-detectives out there, I say - think yourself smart? Think again...unless you have been able to pick up every single clue Petr has surreptitiously hidden away in plain sight. 

In the end, at the risk of sounding like a teenage-boy-band, I'll say no matter who you are, what you do or where you're from, "A Scandal in Bohemia" will leave you stunned, impressed and hungering for the next book. I am rubbing my hands in anticipation...are you?

And last, but not the least, I have to thank Ales Kolodrubec, the President of Česká společnost Sherlocka Holmese (the Czech Sherlock Holmes Society), for giving me the opportunity to take a look at Petr's work. Ales, you are a true Sherlockian!

And here's the cover of the book:


Friday, 20 June 2014

SHSI Annual Meet #2 - Calendar

All right, folks - here are the promised details of the SHSI Calendar - specially made for our upcoming Annual Meet #2! Do save the date/place - 24 August 2014 (Sunday), New Delhi, India. Venue details will be uploaded later, when we have a better idea of how many people will turn up.
 
Before I start throwing in the pictures that everyone has been waiting for, do take note of a few features:
  1. It is a wall calendar, spiral bound and folded in half. When folded, it is slightly smaller than an A4 sheet. For those who understand these things (I don't!), the paper stock is: Premium Glossy 200-210 g/m² paper, and the specifications are: Document Trim Size: 279 x 216 mm; 1648 x 1276 pixels and Full Bleed Size: 282 x 219 mm; 1666 x 1294 pixels.
  2. It is very (very!) colourful. (What can I say? I like colours!) There are photos, artwork and cute images on the marked dates.
  3. The months covered are August 2014 to July 2015.
  4. I have included as many Sherlockian events as I could get my hands on. The biggest round of thanks has to go to Mr Ron Fish, who maintains Sherlockian Calendar. Besides Mr Fish, I had a lot of help from our Sherlockian friends across the globe, too! If there are any mistakes, I take full responsibility and forward my apologies to everyone. The uncertain events are marked with a "TBA" - "to be announced".
  5. The Indian holidays/festivals are marked with a smiley. I didn't do it, they came pre-arranged. I just added the smiley!
  6. The Sherlockian events have different markers, depending on the kind of event they are.
  7. Every month, along with a set of images, has a quote from the canon. Do not worry - the photographer/artist is always acknowledged. If you follow our e-magazine, you would have seen most of the images earlier.
  8. Each calendar costs Rs 235 + shipping. We save on shipping charges of the manufacturer if we order a good number at once, so, in turn, we will be able to give/ship it to you for less. Do note that whatever the expense, you're paying at actuals. If we have, say, about 25 people picking up their copies at the Annual Meet in Delhi - those 25 will have to pay no shipping charges at all.
  9. There is absolutely no obligation on anyone to buy these for the Annual Meet #2. There isn't any limit on the number of copies you want to buy, either. What we do need, however, is some time to get the calendars made (because we don't want to order too many and then be stuck with them). Barring force majeure, you should be able to get yours in a few weeks (or earlier!) after you make your payment.
  10. We have not yet worked out the payment mechanism. Give us the weekend, and we shall figure something out. Suggestions are more than welcome.
And now, on to the images!
 
  • The front cover - recognise the images?
 
 
  • August 2014 - images are of our Annual Meet #1 in Mumbai last August
 
 
  • September 2014 - London, the city of Sherlock Holmes!
 
 
  • October 2014 - Sherlock Wrap at Speedy's, London. Then there are our SHSI Sherlockian drinks - Sherlock's Stupor and Watson's Wish! ;)
 
 
  • November 2014 - artwork from our SHSI members - gorgeous, aren't they?
 
 
  • December 2014 - Art from the lovely Marilena Duca, of Italy!
 
  • January 2014 - Happy Birthday, Sherlock Holmes!
 
  • February 2014 - up for some Sherlockian tourism? Ooty (Tamil Nadu, India) and Lucens (Switzerland) featured here.
 
  • March 2014 - Sherlock and Sherlockians of Bohemia!
 
  • April 2014 - Meiringen, Switzerland. One of the loveliest places I have ever seen.
 
  • May 2014 - *shudder* Reichenbach. The star marks the spot where Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty fell.
 
  • June 2014 - yup, those are our e-magazine covers!
 
  • July 2015 - what better way to end the calendar than put in pictures by the best Sherlockian artist I know?
 
  • Back cover - just a B&W image of the front
 
 
Happy now? For any further details, get in touch with Sumalji or me.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Proceedings of the Pondicherry Lodge - Volume 2 Issue 1: June 1, 2014

And here we are - enjoy! There's an arrow button on the left that should allow you to download the file and read at leisure. If there's any trouble downloading or if you'd like us to email the file to you, drop us a line at shsieditors@gmail.com 




Thursday, 13 March 2014

Book review: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini in the Adventure of the Spook House



Thanks to the author, C. Michael Forsyth, I had a chance to read this very, very interesting book. And I have to say, I am quite impressed.

The book is thoroughly well-researched and cleverly written. As the title suggests, it follows the thrilling adventure of Sir Arthur and Houdini as they embark on a mission to America to solve a seemingly supernatural mystery. Sir Arthur is in his spiritualism days, and Houdini is determined to be grounded in reality. The portrayal of both protagonists (as well the supporting characters – though I will not get into details about them; no spoilers!) and the dynamics of their interaction is highly enjoyable – the easy camaraderie of their friendship, the friction of their heated arguments, the (occasional) self-righteousness on both sides…all of it is meticulously planned and executed by the author. The author’s attention to details is commendable – I can only imagine the amount of work it would have taken!

Anyway, since I must not give away any spoilers, I am simply presenting three brief, benign extracts from the book – these are my favourite bits, obviously:

Extract #1:

"Doctor Stratton, I am of course flattered that you'd seek me out," said the author. "But as I'm sure you are aware, I am not Sherlock Holmes nor do I have a means of contacting him, much to the disappointment of the many female admirers who've asked me to forward correspondence."

Extract #2:

Conan Doyle flung open the door and in strode a tall, rail-thin man in a long gray cape and deerstalker hat, grinning broadly. The hawk-like nose, the piercing black eyes darting about and assessing the room—there was no mistaking who stood before them.

"Sherlock Holmes! Well, this is a welcome surprise," Conan Doyle shouted in delight. "My son returns to me. A prodigal one but a sight for sore eyes nonetheless."

The famous man took off his cap and tossed it onto a rack by the door.

"Yes, but you haven't been half as sporting to me as the fellow in the Bible, have you? As I recall, you tossed me off a waterfall once."

"Yet you're none the worse for wear," Conan Doyle chuckled genially and gave the other's hand a robust shake. "I fear it was you or me. If I hadn't bumped you off, I'd have taken a spoonful of strychnine myself to preserve my sanity."

Extract #3:

Houdini smiled. "Thanks for the compliment, but I think long after the world has forgotten Houdini, your Sherlock Holmes will be around and kicking."

Isn’t that intriguing? Doesn't it make you itch to get hold of the book?

All in all, a most enjoyable read – and if you are fond of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini – kindly proceed to the bookshops and get hold of the book immediately! You are in for a treat!


Further details can be found at the author’s website: http://freedomshammer.com

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Dedicated Sherlock Holmes Online Bookstore

SHERLOCK: Ah! Finally.
MOLLY: “Finally” what?
BILL: Good news?
SHERLOCK: Oh, excellent news – the best.

(“His Last Vow”, Episode 3, Series 3, Sherlock, BBC – transcript from http://arianedevere.livejournal.com/67234.html)

Good news for Sherlockians! A dedicated Sherlock Holmes online bookstore! Can you imagine? A bookstore filled with nothing but Sherlock Holmes! How much better can it get?

The physical library is on Baker Street, of course, where else? Watsons Lounge at the Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes, 108 Baker Street – yes, I’ve been there, and it’s fantastic.

Now, however, Watson's Lounge, the bookstore, has gone online – so here we are: www.parkplazasherlockholmesbooks.com

People behind this? MX is a BIG player, as usual!

Thanks to Julie Aguilera at Rooster PR, here’s a picture and a copy of the press release with further details:



From left: Sharon Emecz, Co-Director, MX Publishing; Ramesh Costa, General Manager, Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes Hotel; Lorna Taylor, Corporate Partnerships manager, National Literacy Trust


Press Release: 

Park Plaza helpS Holmes fans get their hit
Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes hotel launches Sherlock Holmes themed online bookstore for World Book Day and raises funds for the National Literacy Trust


In celebration of World Book Day, the Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes Hotel is delighted to announce the launch of the all-new Watsons Lounge Bookshop; a dedicated online Sherlock Holmes themed bookstore: www.parkplazasherlockholmesbooks.com

In partnership with MX Publishing, one of the main publishers of Sherlock Holmes books in the UK, the Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes Hotel now provides a one stop shop for Holmes fans to get their fix of the written Sherlock-related word.

A further partnership, with the National Literacy Trust, means that those purchasing items from the bookshop are also helping to raise literacy among the UK's most disadvantaged communities, with 10% of all proceeds generated from the bookstore going to the charity.

The Watson’s Lounge online Bookshop offers a unique collection of Sherlock Holmes material including short stories, biographies, Sherlock Holmes themed travel guides and even children’s books, in addition to the more traditional novels recounting the adventures of the infamous detective.

A lot more than just a bookshop, visitors to the site will also benefit from special offers, pre-releases and signed first editions and will also find free samples of books, reviews, author interviews, exclusive events and much more.

“The launch of the Watson’s Lounge online bookstore is the first of a number of Sherlock Holmes themed initiatives and events planned for 2014, developed with the aim of engaging and providing added value for Park Plaza guests, local residents and Sherlock Holmes communities” says Ramesh Costa, new general manager of Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes Hotel. “We are delighted to have joined forces with the National Literacy Trust and hope that our Holmes related activity throughout the year will raise much needed funds for the important work they carry out.”

Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes is a four-star boutique hotel in the heart of London. Located on Baker Street, the hotel is near to popular destinations such as Madame Tussauds and the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Marylebone High Street and Oxford Street, some of the best shopping locations in the Capital, are just a few minutes’ walk.

For more information on Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes Hotel, please visit www.parkplaza.com/sherlockholmes

For more information on the National Literacy Trust, visit www.literacytrust.org.uk

-ENDS-