S.E. rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pulp Soup for the Soul; A Doorway into Another Dimension!
“If only there were some other road out—a door, for example, into the hypothetical region of four dimensions…it certainly couldn’t be worse there than what I’d borne in the last three years. Well, I could try… I seated myself cross-legged on the floor. If I concentrated hard enough, perhaps the miracle might occur…at least I should have tried…a last resort… Gradually a vague state ensued wherein I was not unconscious, for I still knew that I was I: yet a queer detachment was mine—there was a world, but of it I was no longer a part…” Sapphire Siren, N. Dyalhis 1934
Unearthed Weirdness:Nictzin Dyalhis wrote weird fiction during the Pulp Fiction era (~1920-1940)—before the genres of High Fantasy, Horror, and Sci-Fi differentiated themselves. Nictzin Wilstone Dyalhis (1873 – 1942) was an American chemist. His awesome name is real. According to Conover’s obituary (as explained by Sam Moskowitz’s essay in Echoes of Valor III): ‘“Nictzin” was of Mexican Indian origin translated as “Flow of Youth,” and the last name was Scott-Irish from the Roman god “Flamen Dialis,” believed to be the source of the later names of Dallas and Douglas.’
Today Dyalhis's name and work is more obscure, but his style well represents the mash-up of the weird-fiction genre. The soup of weird ingredients seldom complement each other as well as they do in this volume. Karl Edward Wagner's 1991 anthology Echoes of Valor III that has three stories by Nictzin Dyalhis and as I was reading these obscure tales, I learned from the Sword and Sorcery group that this MEGAPACK was just released (April 2015). This one has seven stories (6 from Weird Tales and 1 from Adventure), and is a steal at $0.99 (Kindle, 2015 price).
1) THE SEA-WITCH - Weird Tales, December 1937 (Past-Future Life Adventure)
2) HEART OF ATLANTAN - Weird Tales, September 1940 (Past-Future Life Adventure)
3) THE ETERNAL CONFLICT - Weird Tales, October 1925 (Past-Future Life Adventure)
4) THE RED WITCH Originally - Weird Tales, April 1932 ((Past-Future Life Adventure / Sword & Sorcery)
5) THE SAPPHIRE SIREN - Weird Tales, February 1934. (Sword & Sorcery)
6) WHEN THE GREEN STAR WANED - Weird Tales, April 1925 (Sci-Fi / Horror)
7) FOR WOUNDING—RETALIATION - Adventure, November 20 1922 (Adventure)
Weird, Genre Mash-ups:
The first five stories are various twists on the same premise: reincarnation/past-lives are real phenomenon; and everyday humans get embroiled with ghosts, gods, and aliens anxious to tell tales and seek vengeance. Trippy sequences make apparitions tangible in real life, and send our protagonists into dreamy alternative realms. Dyalhis was enough of a chemist to infuse his knowledge of electromagnetic radiation into his creatures, magic, and sci-fi technology; he does this in most all his stories. Expect a great mix. There are “lost worlds” here, and dwarves with axes (not the fairy tale type, and decades before J.R.R. Tolkien), and there are Star-Trek-like sorties from Vehnuz (Venus) to Aerth (aka Earth) that pits humans against pudding-like Lovecraft creatures (written after Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Mars series), but still decades before space travel); there is even a Sword and Sorcery tale that takes our hero to a realm that is actually the incarnation of the emotion Hate.
Below are some quote to capture the breadth of experiences. Highly recommended for adventure fans:
THE RED WITCH reincarnation / dream fascination:
“Is there a past, a present, and a future; or are they in reality all the same state, being merely differing phases of the same eternal “Now”? Are our lives and deaths and the interludes between them naught but illusion; and are we ever the same beings, yet capable, even though we do not recognize the fact, of experiencing two or more states of consciousness of personal identity…”
THE SAPPHIRE SIREN Horror example:
"Hovering over me, holding me in her arms, shielding and protecting me from further harm, was a superbly beautiful woman. Azure was her hair, blue as the midsummer skies was her shimmering skin that shone with a clear luster surpassing any gem; yet in nowise was she a stone statue, but a living, breathing, loving, tender, soft-bodied woman of flesh and blood! I reached up feeble arms about her neck, drawing her down to me—almost had her lips touched mine—a lambent reddish light flickered momentarily in her wondrous blue eyes— “You infernal hag!” It was but a putrid corpse I held so lovingly within the circle of my arms—and in it the worms and maggots were acrawl!… The Princess of Hell, on her gorgeous throne, gave utterance to a trill of merry laughter at the success of that final glamorous torment...".
WHEN THE GREEN STAR WANED Lovecraftian aliens!
"They had faces, and they had not faces! They had forms and they were formless! How may I describe that which baffles description? We are accustomed to concrete, cohesive, permanent types of form and faces, and these were inchoate!"
THE ETERNAL CONFLICT – Hate made real, and electromagnetic magic!
"Hate is one of the lowest of the emotions. And the lower phases are invariably denser than are the higher ones. Apparently hate is a creative force, in its own plane…."
"All that differentiates one thing from other things throughout all the universe is—vibratory rate! …"
"The color changed, as I drew nearer, changed from an indeterminate tinge to a wondrous ruby red—inexpressibly soul-comforting, if I may use such a word. But, as I drew still closer, it shifted to a tender azure blue. No! It was clear topaz! Why, it was emerald—violet—orange—cerise—it had no color—it was of all colors—it was color! Color well-nigh celestial; and over me crept a strange reverence and awe…."
"Against us they launched whirling spirals and vortices of scarlet and crimson fires; flares of sulfurous blues and yellows; jets and gouts and splashes of flames of all colors, but all shaded with dark impurity; foul with wrath and malice and all indecency. There came, ever and again, gusts of fetid odors; blasts of stifling, mephitic vapors of green and leaden and purple; and thick, black clouds, filthy, revolting to touch and smell; shot, through with jagged sizzling darts and streaks of hell’s own essence—which is a vibration indescribable to earthly concept."
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