Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Two Way-Out Problems for Solar Pons

SOLAR PONS: As far as Sherlock Holmes pastiche characters go, many enthusiasts concede that August Derleth's "Great Pretender" is probably the best. As with Holmes 
(and Max Carrados, for that matter), the majority of Pons's adventures involve down-to-
earth situations with earthly solutions, but unlike Holmes a few of them have an unmis-takable aura of the supernatural, of Poe's grotesque and arabesque, for which no ordi-
nary explanation can be found. Here are two of them.
~ ~ ~
   "Unless I am in egregious error, our visitor is from another world."

"The Adventure of the Snitch in Time."
By August Derleth (1909-71) and Mack Reynolds (1917-83).
First appearance: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 1953.
Collected in A Praed Street Dossier (1968; HERE).
Reprints page (HERE).
Short short story (7 pages).
Online at The Luminist League Archives (HERE; scroll or jump down to page 17).
(Note: Anticipate a very slow load.)

   ". . . the complete story of the one truly science fictional problem ever faced by the great detective." [But, as it turned out, it wouldn't be the last.]

The fate of more than one universe could be at stake as the greatest detective since You-Know-Who consults with an individual who is, as far as Dr. Parker is concerned, evidently either a mountebank or a lunatic . . .

~ Mr. Solar Pons, the Sage of Praed Street:

  "I have always felt that one death at the Reichenbach was as false as the other."
~ Dr. Lyndon Parker, our narrator, friend and chronicler of Solar Pons's adventures:
  "Our visitor looked briefly at me and said, 'Ah, the famous literary doctor, I presume?' and smiled, as if in jest."

~ Tobias Athelney, Agent of the Terra Bureau of Investigation, Planet Terra, of the Solar System League (or so he says):
  [About the individual threatening our world] "He sent one of his own men to another space-time continuum to acquire the services of a most astute lawyer named Randolph Mason." [And there's still more name-dropping in the story.]

~ ~ ~
   "There is a sinister pattern in the very fact that there is no similarity whatsover . . ."

"The Adventure of the Ball of Nostradamus."
By August Derleth (1909-71) and Mack Reynolds (1917-83).
First appearance: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 1955.
Collected in A Praed Street Dossier (1968; HERE).
Reprints page (HERE).
Short story (10 pages).
Online at The Luminist League Archives (HERE; scroll or jump down to page 42).
(Note: Anticipate a very slow load.)

   ". . . here is a possibly even stranger episode [than 'The Adventure of the Snitch in Time'] in the annals of Praed Street: the one case which Solar Pons occasionally wishes that he had never solved."

There are almost as many reasons for someone to commit murder as there are people, but if Solar Pons were to be pressed for what he thinks of the motive for this series of murders he would probably smile ruefully and simply shake his head . . .

~ Dr. Parker:

  "On that day in the 1920's that Pons entered the case, in the second decade of our sharing his quarters at Number 7B, Praed Street, I had been reading about the murder of a child — 
the second in the streets of London."
~ Abraham Weddigan:
  "I hope and pray that you are not of the race of doubters and the army of the Philistines. I have the gift of true precognition."

~ Inspector Jamison:
  "This time, Pons, we have done it without you!"

~ Solar Pons:
  "My congratulations! But what is it you have done?"

- There is much more about August William Derleth (HERE; Wikipedia), (HERE; the SFE), (HERE; the IMDb), (HERE; the ISFDb), and (HERE); as for Dallas McCord Reynolds, see (HERE; Wikipedia), (HERE; the SFE), and (HERE; the ISFDb).

- For a good background article on our sleuth, see the one by Charles Prepolec:

   "Solar Pons may have started out merely as a Holmes pastiche, but through attention to character and a distinctly lighter tone he had developed into his own persona. Derleth created a character, to borrow a phrase 'which was not so much a 19th century man looking into the 20th as a 20th century man harkening back to the 19th.' The stories take place in the 1920's and 30's, yet have a distinctly Holmesian feel to them. The relationship between Pons and his chronicler Dr. Parker is almost identical to Holmes and Watson as is the method of their meeting. The locale for our stories has shifted from 221B Baker Street to 7B Praed Street. Likewise Mrs. Hudson has become the erstwhile Mrs. Johnson and Mycroft is represented by Bancroft. There is far more to these stories than merely the changing of names. There is a charm to these stories that somehow manages to differentiate them from Doyle's work. Pons is a less melancholy figure and more prone to laughter than his illustri-ous predecessor. Pons is not so much a clone as he is cut from the same cloth and could stand shoulder to shoulder with Holmes."
   — "The Great Pretender: Solar Pons" at Baker Street Dozen (HERE)

- The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (otherwise the ISFDb) has a fine Solar Pons bib-liography (HERE), and The Thrilling Detective has a short but informative page devoted to Pons (HERE).
- Mack Reynolds wrote four Solar Pons adventures, the last two without Derleth:
  (1) "The Adventure of the Snitch in Time," F & SF, July 1953 (above)
  (2) "The Adventure of the Ball of Nostradamus," F & SF, June 1955 (above)
  (3) "The Adventure of the Extra-Terrestrial," The Final Adventures of Solar Pons (1998)
  (4) "The Adventure of the Nosferatu," The Final Adventures of Solar Pons (1998).
- We've met Reynolds before: (HERE) and (HERE).

No comments:

Post a Comment