Solar Pons

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Solar Pons
Solar Pons character
First appearance 1928
Created by August Derleth
Information
Gender Male
Occupation Consulting detective
Family Bancroft Pons (brother)
Nationality English

Solar Pons is a fictional detective created by August Derleth as a pastiche of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.

Approach[edit]

On hearing that he had no plans to write more Holmes stories, the young Derleth wrote to Conan Doyle, asking permission to take over the job. Conan Doyle graciously declined the offer, but Derleth, despite having never been to London, set about finding a name that was syllabically reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, and wrote his first set of pastiches. He was to go on to write more stories about Pons than Conan Doyle did about Holmes.

Character model[edit]

Pons is quite openly a pastiche of Holmes; the first book about Solar Pons was in fact titled In Re: Sherlock Holmes. The similarities can hardly be missed: Like Holmes, Solar Pons has prodigious powers of observation and deduction, who can astound his companions by telling them minute details about people he has only just met, details that he proves to have deduced in seconds of observation. Where Holmes's stories are narrated by his companion Dr. Watson, the Pons stories are narrated by Dr. Lyndon Parker; in the Pons stories, he and Parker share lodgings not at 221B Baker Street but at 7B Praed Street, where their landlady is not Mrs. Hudson but Mrs. Johnson. Whereas Sherlock Holmes has an elder brother Mycroft Holmes of even greater gifts, Solar Pons has a brother Bancroft to fill the same role.

It cannot be said, however, that Solar Pons is merely Sherlock Holmes with the name changed, for the important reason that Sherlock Holmes also exists in Pons' world: Pons and Parker are aware of the famous detective and hold him in high regard, but whereas Holmes' adventures took place primarily in the 1880s and 1890s, Pons and Parker live in the 1920s and 1930s (when Derleth began writing the Pons stories.) Pons fans also regard Derleth as having given Pons his own distinctly different personality, far less melancholy and brooding than Holmes'.

The Pons stories also cross over, at times, with the writings of others, such as Derleth's literary correspondent H. P. Lovecraft in "The Adventure of the Six Silver Spiders", Fu Manchu author Sax Rohmer, and Carnacki the Ghost-Finder in "The Adventure of the Haunted Library".

We know that Pons is physically slender and that he smokes a pipe filled with 'abominable shag'. [1]

The tales in the Pontine canon (as the collected works are known) can be broadly divided into two classes, the straight and the humorous, the straight being more or less straightforward tales of detection in the classic Holmesian mode, while the others—a minority—have some gentle fun, most notably by involving fictional characters from outside either canon (most notably Dr. Fu Manchu, who recurs); perhaps the most outstanding example is "The Adventure of the Orient Express", in which we encounter, among others, very thinly disguised versions of Ashenden, Hercule Poirot, and The Saint.

Several of the Pontine tales have titles taken from the famous "unrecorded" cases of Holmes which Watson often alluded to, including the matters of "Ricoletti of the Club Foot (and his Abominable Wife)," "The Aluminium Crutch," "The Black Cardinal," and that of "The Politician, the Lighthouse, and the Trained Cormorant." Others of the canon are riffs on Holmesian tales, such as "The Adventure of the Tottenham Werewolf" paralleling (in some ways) Holmes' case of the Sussex Vampire.

Legacy[edit]

The Basil Copper Pons Stories[edit]

After Derleth's death in 1971, further stories about the character were written by the author Basil Copper. Four of these volumes were published by Pinnacle Books - The Dossier of Solar Pons, The Further Adventures of Solar Pons, The Secret files of Solar Pons and The Uncollected Cases of Solar Pons (all 1979). A further two volumes of Copper's continuations were published by Fedogan and Bremer - ''The Exploits of Solar Pons (1993) and The Recollections of Solar Pons (1995). Fedogan and Bremer also issued a limited edition chapbook of Copper's preferred text of the story The Adventure of the Singular Sandwich. More recently, Sarob Press published two further volumes of Pons work by Copper - the novel Solar Pons versus the Devil's Claw (2004) and a collection titled Solar Pons: The Final Cases (2005) which contains five stories, four being revised editions of earlier Copper Pons contributions, and one new story ("The Adventure of the Baffled Baron").

The Basil Copper-edited Derleth Solar Pons[edit]

Copper also edited the Pons stories of August Derleth for Arkham House under the title The Solar Pons Omnibus (2 vols, 1982) but made extensive edits in the stories. The stories in Copper's edition are also arranged by their internal chronology, rather than by the date of their release. Copper "edited" the tales in ways that many Pontine aficionados found objectionable - Roger Johnson states "After August Derleth's death the published stories were edited by Basil Copper, who rather controversially corrected many errors and adjusted many Americanisms, into a handsome two-volume omnibus edition."[2]

A later omnibus, The Original Text Solar Pons Omnibus Edition, was issued by Mycroft & Moran in 2000, reverting the stories to Derleth's original versions. The later omnibus also discarded Copper's chronological arrangement in favor of the order in which the stories had appeared in the original Derleth volumes.

Other Appearances by Solar Pons[edit]

In "The Adventure of the Other Brother", included in The Papers of Sherlock Holmes Volume II by David Marcum (2011, 2013) Holmes and Watson travel to Yorkshire in 1896 to defend Holmes's older brother, Sherrinford, from a charge of murder, as first briefly mentioned at the conclusion of William S. Baring-Gould's biography, Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street. While there, they encounter Sherrinford's youngest son, 16-year old Siger Holmes, (named after his grandfather.) Siger looks like a young Sherlock Holmes, and also shows a remarkable facility for deduction. After the solution of the mystery, an extended epilogue relates how Siger Holmes, with the blessing of his uncle, also became a consulting detective, and eventually chose to be called "Solar Pons" in order to make his own name, instead of relying on that of his famous uncle. An explanation is also given stating how the name "Solar Pons" was chosen, and a number of other biographical details match those listed by Derleth in a short précis that he wrote describing Pons's background.

Solar Pons in Popular Culture[edit]

There is a dedicated Pontine web site, Praed Street; other Pontine pages of interest include the Solar Pons article at that other wiki, and a concise bibliography of the canon, which includes more stories than Doyle ever wrote about Holmes (all are short stories save one novel, Mr. Fairlie's Final Journey).

A society, the Praed Street Irregulars (PSI), is dedicated to Solar Pons. The Irregulars were founded by Luther Norris in 1966 in the style of the better-known Baker Street Irregulars.[3]

A branch, The London Solar Pons Society, was established in England headed by Roger Johnson. The PSI produced a newsletter, the Pontine Dossier, published by The Pontine Press between 1967 and 1977.[4]

Though it is not formally associated with the Praed Street Irregulars, publication of The Solar Pons Gazette began in 2006 and issues may be downloaded from the Solar Pons website below.

Solar Pons books[edit]

By August Derleth

  • "In Re: Sherlock Holmes"--The Adventures of Solar Pons - (in the UK "The Adventures of Solar Pons") (1945)
    • "In Re: Solar Pons" by Vincent Starrett
    • "A Word From Dr. Lyndon Parker"
    • "The Adventure of the Frightened Baronet"
    • "The Adventure of the Late Mr. Faversham"
    • "The Adventure of the Black Narcissus"
    • "The Adventure of the Norcross Riddle"
    • "The Adventure of the Retired Novelist"
    • "The Adventure of the Three Red Dwarfs"
    • "The Adventure of the Sotheby Salesman"
    • "The Adventure of the Purloined Periapt"
    • "The Adventure of the Limping Man"
    • "The Adventure of the Seven Passengers"
    • "The Adventure of the Lost Holiday"
    • "The Adventure of the Man With a Broken Face".
  • The Memoirs of Solar Pons (1951)
    • "Introduction" by Ellery Queen
    • "The Adventure of the Circular Room"
    • "The Adventure of the Perfect Husband"
    • "The Adventure of the Broken Chessman"
    • "The Adventure of the Dog in the Manger"
    • "The Adventure of the Proper Comma"
    • "The Adventure of Ricoletti of the Club Foot"
    • "The Adventure of the Six Silver Spiders"
    • "The Adventure of the Lost Locomotive"
    • "The Adventure of the Tottenham Werewolf"
    • "The Adventure of the Five Royal Coachmen"
    • "The Adventure of the Paralytic Mendicant"
  • The Return of Solar Pons (1958)
    • "Introduction" by Edgar W. Smith
    • "The Adventure of the Lost Dutchman"
    • "The Adventure of the Devil's Footprints"
    • "The Adventure of the Dorrington Inheritance"
    • "The Adventure of the 'Triple Kent'"
    • "The Adventure of the Rydberg Numbers" (reissued from Three Problems for Solar Pons)
    • "The Adventure of the Grice-Paterson Curse"
    • "The Adventure of the Stone of Scone"
    • "The Adventure of the Remarkable Worm" (reissued from Three Problems for Solar Pons)
    • "The Adventure of the Penny Magenta"
    • "The Adventure of the Trained Cormorant"
    • "The Adventure of the Camberwell Beauty" (reissued from Three Problems for Solar Pons)
    • "The Adventure of the Little Hangman"
    • "The Adventure of the Swedenborg Signatures"
  • The Reminiscences of Solar Pons (1961)
    • "Introduction" by Anthony Boucher
    • "The Adventure of the Mazarine Blue"
    • "The Adventure of the Hats of M. Dulac"
    • "The Adventure of the Mosaic Cylinders"
    • "The Adventure of the Praed Street Irregulars"
    • "The Adventure of the Cloverdale Kennels"
    • "The Adventure of the Black Cardinal"
    • "The Adventure of the Troubled Magistrate"
    • "The Adventure of the Blind Clairaudient"
    • "A Chronology of Solar Pons" by Robert Patrick (sometimes given as Pattrick)
  • The Casebook of Solar Pons (1965)
    • "Foreword" by Vincent Starrett
    • "(Cuthbert) Lyndon Parker" by Michael Harrison
    • "The Adventure of the Sussex Archers"
    • "The Adventure of the Haunted Library"
    • "The Adventure of the Fatal Glance"
    • "The Adventure of the Intarsia Box"
    • "The Adventure of the Spurious Tamerlaine"
    • "The Adventure of the China Cottage"
    • "The Adventure of the Ascot Scandal"
    • "The Adventure of the Crouching Dog"
    • "The Adventure of the Missing Huntsman"
    • "The Adventure of the Amateur Philologist"
    • "The Adventure of the Whispering Knights"
    • "The Adventure of the Innkeeper's Clerk"
    • "Afterword"
  • A Praed Street Dossier (1968) - [associational volume]
    • "The Beginnings of Solar Pons"
    • "The Sources of the Tales"
    • "Concerning Dr. Parker's Background"
    • "The Favorite Pastiches"
    • "From the Notebooks of Dr. Lyndon Parker"
    • "The Adventure of the Bookseller's Clerk"
    • "Solar Pons, Off-Trail"
    • "The Adventure of the Snitch in Time" (with Mack Reynolds)
    • "The Adventure of the Ball of Nostradamus" (with Mack Reynolds).
  • The Chronicles of Solar Pons (1973)
    • "Introduction" by Allen J. Hubin
    • "The Adventure of the Red Leech"
    • "The Adventure of the Orient Express"
    • "The Adventure of the Golden Bracelet"
    • "The Adventure of the Shaplow Millions"
    • "The Adventure of the Benin Bronze"
    • "The Adventure of the Missing Tenants"
    • "The Adventure of the Aluminum Crutch"
    • "The Adventure of the Seven Sisters"
    • "The Adventure of the Bishop's Companion"
    • "The Adventure of the Unique Dickensians"
  • The Final Adventures of Solar Pons (1998)
    • "Introduction" by Peter Ruber
    • "Reception in Elysium" (poem) by Mary F. Lindsley
    • Terror Over London [novel]
    • "The Adventures of Gresham Old Place"
    • "The Adventure of the Burlstone Horror"
    • "The Adventure of the Viennese Musician"
    • "The Adventure of the Muttering Man"
    • "The Adventure of the Two Collaborators" by Peter Ruber
    • "The Adventure of the Nosferatu" (with Mack Reynolds)
    • "The Adventure of the Extra-Terrestrial" (with Mack Reynolds)
    • "More from Dr. Parker's Notebooks"
  • The Dragnet Solar Pons et al. (2011) (These are the original pulp magazine and manuscript versions of these stories)
    • "Introduction" by Mark Wardecker
    • "The Adventure of the Black Narcissus"
    • "The Adventure of the Missing Tenants"
    • "The Adventure of the Broken Chessman"
    • "The Adventure of the Late Mr. Faversham"
    • "The Adventure of the Limping Man"
    • "Two Black Buttons"
    • "The Adventure of the Red Dwarfs"
    • "The Adventure of Gresham Marshes"
    • "The Adventure of the Black Cardinal"
    • "The Adventure of the Norcross Riddle"
    • "The Adventure of the Yarpool Horror"
    • "The Adventure of the Muttering Man"
    • "Notes" by Mark Wardecker
  • The Unpublished Solar Pons (1994)
    • "Introduction" by Paul B. Smeadegaard
    • "A Pontine Commentary" by Ted Schulz
    • "Revised List of The Solar Pons Canon Abbreviations"
    • "The Adventure of the Viennese Musician"
    • "The Adventure of the Muttering Man"
    • "The Adventure of the Sinister House"
    • "In Re: Solar Pons" by Roger Johnson
    • "A Pontine Competition" by James Turner
    • "The Adventure of the Green Stars" (fragment)
    • "Afterword" George A. Vander

By Basil Copper

  • The Dossier of Solar Pons (1979)
    • "The Adventure of the Perplexed Photographer"
    • "The Adventure of the Sealed Spire"
    • "The Adventure of the Six Gold Doubloons"
    • "The Adventure of the Ipi Idol"
    • "The Adventure of Buffington Old Grange"
    • "The Adventure of the Hammer of Hate".
  • The Further Adventures of Solar Pons (1979)
    • "The Adventure of the Shaft of Death"
    • "The Adventure of the Defeated Doctor"
    • "The Adventure of the Surrey Sadist"
    • "The Adventure of the Missing Student".
  • The Secret Files of Solar Pons (1979)
    • "The Adventure of the Crawling Horror"
    • "The Adventure of the Anguished Actor"
    • "The Adventure of the Ignored Idols"
    • "The Adventure of the Horrified Heiress"
  • The Uncollected Cases of Solar Pons (1980)
    • "The Adventure of the Haunted Rectory"
    • "The Adventure of the Singular Sandwich"
    • "Murder at the Zoo"
    • "The Adventure of the Frightened Governess"
  • The Exploits of Solar Pons (1993)
    • "The Adventure of the Callous Colonel"
    • "The Adventure of the Phantom Face"
    • "The Adventure of the Verger’s Thumb"
    • "Death at the Metropole"
  • The Recollections of Solar Pons (1995)
    • "The Adventure of the Cursed Curator"
    • "The Adventure of the Hound of Hell"
    • "The Adventure of the Mad Millionaire"
    • "The Adventure of the Singular Sandwich" [reworked from its first appearance in Uncollected Cases (above)]
  • Solar Pons Versus The Devil’s Claw (2004, Sarob Press) [novel]
  • Solar Pons: The Final Cases (2005, Sarob Press)
    • "The Adventures of The Haunted Rectory" [reworked from its first appearance in Uncollected Cases (above)]
    • "The Ignored Idols" [reworked from its first appearance in Secret Files (above)]
    • "The Adventure of the Horrified Heiress" [reworked from its first appearance in Secret Files (above)]
    • "The Adventure of the Baffled Baron" [first book appearance]
    • "The Adventure of the Anguished Actor" [reworked from its first appearance in Secret Files
    • "The Adventure of the Persecuted Painter [from Mammoth Book of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures] (above)

by David Marcum

  • The Papers of Sherlock Holmes Volume II (2011, 2013)
    • "The Adventure of the Other Brother"

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Adventure of the Haunted Library"
  2. ^ "A Study in Solar: The Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street" by Roger Johnson (see External Links)
  3. ^ Christopher Redmond, A Sherlock Holmes handbook, Dundurn Press, 1993, ISBN 0-88924-246-1, p.156
  4. ^ Michael L. Cook, Mystery fanfare: a composite annotated index to mystery and related fanzines, 1963-1981, Popular Press, 1983, ISBN 0-87972-230-4, p.24

External links[edit]