From The Surrey Shore . . .
The Newsletter of the Hated Rivals on the Surrey Shore Vol. 3, No. 2, April 2004
****A Scion Society for All Who Enjoy Sherlock Holmes in All His Manifestations!****
. . . waiting for the sun? Well, not exactly. (Nor, we hope, for the English rain.) But we will be sitting in Garfield Park, near its lovely gardens, having a picnic under the Indiana sun. Close enough (and saves a ton of money on airfare!). We do expect all in attendance to flower at our next Hated Rivals on the Surrey Shore meeting (so do bring plenty of pollen) on Saturday, May 15, from noon to 4 p.m., as we picnic at historic Garfield Park, on the near south side of Indianapolis. Yes, we do plan to have a traditional picnic, along with a tour of the park’s gardens and a related program. So please plan to bring your own picnic lunch (although your officers will provide additional goodies should your pic-a-nic basket be a bit on the light side—whether the result of mooching bears or a rushed schedule). We will gather at one of the picnic tables on the hill above the MacAllister Center (band shell) in Garfield Park around noonish for the picnic portion of our program. Following lunch and sparkling conversation, as well as our standard Sherlockian toasts and a quick business meeting, our very own Amelia Peabody (Suzanne Snyder) will present a short paper on Victorian Gardens. Wrapping things up will be our self-guided tour of the gardens (which, as I recall from childhood visits, are quite spectacular). We plan to end the festivities around 4 p.m. or earlier—although you’re free to leave earlier, if necessary. We hope that you’ll join us for this outdoors event—and bring a friend or two as well! (And please note: All rumors that Professor Moriarty has trained a battalion of army ants to disrupt our fun are just that—mere rumors.)
As your humble correspondent has had to spend most of the past month and a half recuperating at home from a bout of open-heart surgery (fortunately performed by a competent surgeon and not by angered cultists or criminal masterminds), I’ve asked one of our other club officers to fill in for me on this month’s “Letter from” column. So without further adieu, let me turn things over to our own Historian/Recorder, Amelia Peabody (Suzanne Snyder), for . . .
Here it is May—the daffodils have bloomed and the irises are getting ready to bloom. The bees are out and about, replenishing their stores from winter. I encourage you, if you should see a bee, to take a moment or two to observe it; they’re really quite fascinating creatures. As Holmes observed to Watson, during his beekeeping retirement days in Sussex, “I watched the little working gangs [of bees] as once I watched the criminal world of London” (“The Second Stain”). As was typical of his scientific and scholarly nature, Holmes wrote a monograph on the subject around 1914, Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with Some Observations upon the Segregation of the Queen. He would be disturbed to discover that many of our wild and domestic honeybees have fallen prey to the parasitic varroa and tracheal mites (varroa jacobsoni and Acarapis woodi) that have decimated hives over the last twenty years. A sinister plot of the fiendish Professor Moriarty, perhaps? But good will overcome evil—methods have been found to keep these mites at bay—and beekeepers throughout the United States are working hard to replenish our bee stock. So, while they might not be as plentiful as they once were, the magnificent honeybees are still around. If you should see one, appreciate it as the survivor that it is!—Amelia Peabody
Our extreme gratitude goes to Suzanne for filling in not only here but in this months’ Victorian Trivia section. Till next issue, I remain, as always (although now with even more heart), ever yours . . .
—C. Barker, Esq.
A game group of Hated Rivals (no, not a gamy group) met at the Warren Library on Sunday, March 14, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. to solve the mystery of “The Fenian Murders”! And solve it they did. The action (ably refereed by game designer extraordinaire Chris Engle) took the player-characters to a manor house in the rurals of Kent to investigate the murder of a government agent, investigating a possible Fenian plot against the Crown. Called in on the case was, of course, the Great Detective and his ever-faithful companion, the Doctor. The game used Chris’ Engle Matrix Games system, in which the players actively helped create the storyline, while die rolls determined whether their creative ideas (known in the game as “arguments”) were true or not. (The stronger the argument, the easier the die roll for it to prove true.) As the game progressed, and Rival creativity came into play, the plot grew ever clearer — as did the identity of the culprit. In the end, the murder proved not to be part of the Fenian plot (which continued on for possible resolution at another time), but the result of mistaken jealousy on the part of one of the guests at the manor. (And for once, it was the Doctor who was allowed to nab the killer, while the Great Detective took the opportunity to let the Fenian cabal know that he was onto them.) All in all, it proved to be great fun — and the ample munchies added to the event as well. (Chris also helped the players by explaining the context behind the game and the Fenians’ role in Victorian England as Irish radicals — precursors to the IRA — for those not up on their Victorian trivia.) Following the game, a short business meeting was held to discuss possible changes to this year’s schedule (to be announced at a later date). At the appointed time, all Rivals in attendance bid each other farewell and headed off into the windy weather, until our May meeting brings us together once again and the game, once more, is afoot!
At our next meeting, I—Amelia Peabody—will be giving a talk on Victorian gardens. This volume’s Victorian Trivia will give you a foretaste of my presentation, specifically as it concerns the Victorian mossery. What is a mossery, you ask? Mosseries were little garden huts, with interiors (and sometimes exteriors) covered in moss, such as having moss pressed in between the wall slats. Not only was it popular for Victorian homes to have mosseries in their gardens, but they were often a feature (or curiosity) of public parks. There was said to be a Mossery at the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow, near a miniature recreation of Loch Lomond.
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere!
Moonstone Books has scheduled for June release a second collection of original Sherlock Holmes graphic novels, Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, Volume Two—a 142-page trade paperback containing the two Holmes sagas Return of the Devil and The Loch Ness Horror, by Martin Powell and Seppo Makinen. The first involves a supply of poisonous cocaine hitting London—one to which Holmes himself falls victim. And in the detective’s fevered nightmares, Professor Moriarty returns to life to do battle with Holmes in the latter’s dreams. In the second Holmes is hired by the Vatican to investigate the disappearance of a powerful relic—possibly stolen by the evil Aleister Crowley—while Watson returns to Baskerville Hall to face yet another seemingly demonic force haunting the moors (a transplanted Nessie?). Both tales appeared in series form before, but are long out of print. No word on price yet, although it’s likely in the $15-18 range. We’ll update you as we get more information.
Recently released in hardcover from Schribner—a new Sherlock Holmes-Mary Russell novel by Laurie R. King, The Game ($23.95). According to reviews, this seventh in the series takes Holmes and his wife, Mary, to India in 1924 to save the life of “one of one literature’s most fabled heroes”—none other than one Kimball O’Hara, the adult Kim, from Rudyard Kipling’s novel of the same name. Holmes, who knows Kim from an encounter 30 years earlier—apparently during the Great Hiatus—sets forth with the intrepid Mary to rescue the now-missing British agent, taking part once more in The Great Game. The book should be available at most bookstores and online outlets (at substantial discounts) such as Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
The February 2004 issue of the Columbia House Video Club (which actually came out in early March) features the video edition of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen for the Club sale price of $16.95 (plus postage), which means that the video should be available in most video stores at comparable prices by the time that you get this newsletter. (Video stores such as Blockbuster are already selling pre-viewed copies for as low as $9.95.) The Club also offers new in this issue Sherlock: Case of Evil, the atrocious Holmes movie aired on USA last year as A Case of Evil, for the same sale price. (Look up our review of this turkey in our past online newsletters before you consider wasting money on it.) Finally, in the “Family Aisle” of the issue is Young Sherlock: The Mystery of the Manor House (270 minutes), from the British miniseries, on sale for $27.95 (regular price $39.95). Sale prices will, of course, be over by the time that you get this, so you can probably find League (and Sherlock: Case of Evil, if you really want it) in the stores for less.
The final issue of Archard’s Agents—the Ruse spin-off featuring other characters from the well-written and excellently drawn CrossGen comic about the Holmes-like detective Simon Archard—arrived on the stands in March. This issue featured Theophilis Dare, the adventurer who’d appeared in a Ruse story arc several issues ago, as well as in the penny dreadful sequence in the next-to-last issue. The adventure had Dare and several companions set off in a top-secret “submersosphere” vessel in search of the lost, sunken city of Myrmoria (although Dare’s actual goal was to find the legendary sea serpent know as the “Jellicoe Monster”). Alas, neither Archard nor his partner, Emma Bishop, appeared in the final spin-off, although Archard did get a brief mention. (The absence wasn’t entirely unexpected, however, as the spin-off was designed to feature other Ruse characters, as its title implies.) At least Ruse fans had this one last related adventure after the demise of Ruse itself. The three Ruse collections of the first 15 issues are still available, although with the series itself gone, you may want to look for them soon, as there’s no telling how long CrossGen will keep them in print. (Check local specialty comic book stores and the online book sellers such as Amazon.com, doing an on-site search for Ruse. Note, too, that Amazon.com offers a new Comics and Graphic Novels store on its Web site.)
A last-minute update to the Ruse situation: In an ad for its Negation Wars series, CrossGen lists Ruse, along with its other series (most now canceled), as what’s gone before. No word as yet as to whether the characters from Ruse will play any part in that new series. (Our guess is no, since the comic tied in only peripherally to the rest of the CrossGen universe; we’re thinking that it’s merely a teaser to pull in former readers of Ruse. In other words, it’s a . . . well, ruse. If we hear otherwise, we’ll let you know.)
Spotted at a local game store: Mystery Rummy, Case 3: Jekyll and Hyde, a special version of the card game Rummy, focusing on Robert Louis Stephenson’s Victorian horror tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In checking for further information on the Web, I discovered that the first set in the series is Mystery Rummy, Case No. 1, Jack the Ripper. The cards apparently feature evidence and suspects, etc., and are played according to variations on the rules for Rummy (at least as far as I can tell, not being a Rummy player). Price appears to be in the $12 range. Another, different set (Case No. 4) focuses on Al Capone and the Chicago Underground, and Case No. 2 features Edgar Allan Poe’s “Murders in the Rue Morgue”—so can a Sherlock Holmes set be very far behind (especially with two sets already spotlighting two of Holmes’ pastiche adversaries)? We can only hope . . .
Speaking of the Ripper, a clarification appears to be necessary for our blurb last month about the Discovery channel’s Jack the Ripper episode of Unsolved History. In naming two noted Ripperologists in the same sentence where we stated that many now believe Aaron Kosminski to have been the Ripper, we didn’t mean to imply that those two (Donald Rumbelow and Stewart Evans) were of that opinion. Stewart, in fact, is the author of the book suggesting American Francis Tumblety as the Ripper, and Rumbelow has remained open on the Ripper’s identity, merely noting the plausibility (or nonplausibility) of certain of the suspects (at least according to my aging memories). Sorry for any confusion . . . but it is, of course, a case fraught with speculation, uncertainty, and . . . confusion.
The Dickens, you say? Well, you might, if you were to pick up the recent Death By Dickens, edited by Anne Perry (author of the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt Victorian mystery novels, among others), from the Berkley Prime Crime imprint ($23.95). Ten prominent mystery writers pay homage to Charles Dickens in this anthology, featuring such Dickens’ characters as Pickwick, Sydney Carton, and, of course, Ebenezer Scrooge—a must for mystery lovers who are also Dickens aficionados. Available at most bookstores and online book outlets (again at substantial discounts at the latter).
For the gamers among you, Chris Engle has collected all his Great Detective Case Book scenarios from his various Engle Matrix game books into a single volume, renamed the Sherlock Holmes Case Book. The book contains the umbrella scenarios “Save Gordon!,” “The Case of the Dead Duke,” and “The Fenian Murders” (see the “Meeting Notes,” earlier in this newsletter for more on this case), each of which contains information for three individual scenarios using the same location and characters but different plots — such as “The Case of the Oriental Dog,” “The Case of the Lopsided Duel,” “The Case of Bad Blood,” and “A Shot in the Dark.” Each umbrella scenario contains an area map (different sections of London in two and the Kent countryside in the third) and a number of characters with different motivations and secrets. The book also contains an easy-to-follow explanation of the Matrix Game System rules (which even a total novice can learn in minutes), guidelines on how to play mystery scenarios in particular, and background information for the different scenarios. The Sherlock Holmes Case Book is available from Hamster Press (www.io.com/~hamster) for $14.95. (Or see Chris at a coming meeting. He also has a few copies with a slight imperfection that he’s offering for the amazing price of only $5 to readers of this newsletter, but you need to act quickly, as they won’t last long at that price.)
As noted last issue, our own Bill Barton (Barker) writes a monthly column, “Horror from the Heartland,” for the online gaming magazine Space Gamer (www.spacegamer.com). We also noted that the March issue’s column was to focus on Cyrus Barker, Bill’s fictionalized version of the Canonical Barker, as described in our past two newsletters’ “Letter from Barker” sections. After the last newsletter went to press, however, we learned that Space Gamer had gone to a bi-monthly schedule—and that Bill had written enough about Barker to devote two columns to our favorite Hated Rival. The first has already appeared in the April issue of the online magazine and describes how Bill devised the character, similar to the article appearing in our December 2003 newsletter. The second column, due up in June, includes the original Call of Cthulhu/Cthulhu By Gaslight stats Bill composed for Barker that were never published—at least until now. The online Space Gamer is, as noted previously, a subscriber-only site, but trial subscriptions for a limited period are frequently available as well.
And finally, coming to a bookstore near you in early June, a novel by our own Hated Rival Will Thomas, Some Danger Involved, featuring a certain Victorian detective named . . . Cyrus Barker! (No, it’s not the same Cyrus Barker as Bill describes in his SG column and in past newsletters, but, yes, it is the one he referred to when he mentioned someone else coming up with the same name independently.) Although copyright restrictions prevent Will’s protagonist from being the Barker of the Canon, you can be sure that the character is one that we can all enjoy as a true “hated rival on the Surrey Shore” of Baker Street’s most famous sleuth. (And, for the benefit of the Doyle Estate, we’re referring here, of course, to Sexton Blake. Ahem.) The 300+-page novel is to be published by Touchstone Books and will retail for $22.95 (and for considerably less at online outlets such as Amazon.com, where you can find a more detailed description of the book). We’ll provide more information in the June newsletter, after we have a chance to obtain a copy. But in the meantime, we urge all true Hated Rivals to support Will in his budding career by picking up his first novel—especially so that the publisher decides to publish more of Will’s efforts and we can follow the further adventures of his (and our) favorite Victorian detective, Barker.
Following are the details of our upcoming meeting, plus the dates and tentative information about all our meetings for 2004. (Check our Web site or our Indianapolis Star Web page for updates.) So set these dates aside to join the Hated Rivals at the following soirées:
Sitting in an English Garden
Saturday, May 15, 2004, noon to 4 p.m.
2345 Pagoda Drive [on the near south side of Indianapolis]
Directions and Details: Take I65 to Raymond St. Head east on Raymond to Shelby St. (Note: if you are getting off I65 from the north, you’ll want to immediately get in the left hand lane on Raymond for the left on Shelby—it’s that close!) Go left on Shelby. You’ll pass the Conservatory Drive entrance to the park. Keep on going until you get to Southern Ave. Turn right on Southern. Go a little ways and you’ll see the main entrance to the park on the right. Turn right, then left on Pagoda Dr. You will see two parking areas; there are picnic tables there and we will be at one of them. This is on a bluff that overlooks the MacAllister Center for the Performing Arts. We’re hoping it doesn’t rain, but if it does, perhaps we can go inside the MA Center—or to a shelter further down Pagoda Dr. near the playground.
And don’t forget to mark your calendar for this year’s other great meetings . . .
Sunday, July 11, 2004: Barker Birthday Bash—An Afternoon on the Canal
September (tbd): A Sherlockian Surprise!
Saturday, November 13, 2004: A.C. Doyle Mini-Film Fest
(Note: Dates and programs are tentative and subject to change as circumstances
change—but we’ll try to stick to these as much as possible!)
For more information, contact us at P.O. Box 26290, Indianapolis, IN 46226-0290; or you can contact us electronically (via e-mail) at firstname.lastname@example.org. (And don’t forget to venture online to check out our Hated Rivals Web site, located at http://surrey-shore.freeservers.com, or to visit our Indy Star Web page at http://community.indystar.com/928/ for recent updates.)
See you again in two months, back on the ol’ Surrey Shore, where the game’s always afoot! (But you already knew that—right?)