‘Steel True, Blade Straight’

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born today. I came late to enjoying Doyle’s work, insofar as it exists beyond Sherlock Holmes. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that Doyle wrote something other than the Great Detective, but when I did, boy howdy. I devoured The White CompanyThe Exploits of Brigadier Gerard, and all of the Professor Challenger stories in short order. 

There’s something unremittingly honest about Doyle’s writing, even though it’s a sufferer-in-extremis of the imperial romance syndrome. Lots of sturdy, but honest peasants (or, conversely, murderous lower classes attempting to overturn the established social order) and chivalrous knights in his historical fiction and quite a few evil-foreigners-who-are-evil-because-they-are-foreign in his short fiction. But there’s a charm there that’s hard to deny. A love of story and language that keeps his books popular even today. And by books, I mean Sherlock Holmes.

Well, that and the movies. And by movies, I mean Sherlock Holmes.

He’d probably hate that.

Myself, I love “Lot No. 249” like it was candy, you know? Pretty much every mummy movie ever is based on that story. I mean, yeah, Jewel of the Seven Stars, I know, but come on…that sequence where the mummy is stagger-dancing down that moon-lit country lane in Oxford, in pursuit of Abercrombie Smith? That’s the good stuff right there.

So, thanks, Sir Arthur. Thanks for making mummies cool. And happy birthday.

Also, thanks for The Lost World, because without that, we wouldn’t have gotten The Valley of Gwangi, and I don’t know that I could live in a world without the latter.

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