Last week, I put up some links to my hypothetical Best of Weird Tales post. A member of both the Robert E. Howard (REHUPA) and Lovecraft (Esoteric Order of Dagon) amateur press associations mentioned “I have waited 40 years for a Nictzin Dyalhis collection.”
Nictzin Dyalhis is one of the enigmatic writers for Weird Tales magazine that little is know about. His middle name was Wilstone. His vital statistics are listed as born 1873 and died 1942. Here is a list of his stories in the pulp magazines:
Who Keep the Desert Law Adventure, October 20, 1922
For Wounding–Retaliation Adventure, November 20, 1922
When the Green Star Waned Weird Tales, April 1925
The Eternal Conflict Weird Tales, October 1925
He Refused to Stay Dead Ghost Stories, May 1927
The Dark Lore Weird Tales, October 1927
The Oath of Hul Jok Weird Tales, September 1928
The Red Witch Weird Tales, April 1932
The Whirling Machete The Underworld Magazine, December 1933
The Sapphire Goddess Weird Tales, February 1934
Gangland’s Judas Complete Underworld Novelettes, Summer 1934
The Sea Witch Weird Tales, December 1937
Heart of Atlantan Weird Tales, September 1940
I would bet money that Farnsworth Wright rejected some stories that are now lost. That was Wright’s way.
Nictzin Dyalhis appears to be nom de plume. His real name was probably Nicholas Douglas or something like that. He gave varying accounts of his birth place. When someone does that, my suspicion antennae are alert. He lived in out of the way places like Sugar Grove, PA located in Warren County. Warren County is the county to the East next to me. Ten years ago, I drove over to Sugar Grove to see what I could come up with which was nothing. More detail on Dyalhis’ life is at this post at the Bear Alley Books blog.
Dyalhis’s stories were popular with readers of Weird Tales. H. P. Lovecraft did not seem to think much of them as he mocked “The Dark Lore” in a letter. The magazine reprinted “When the Green Star Waned” in the January 1929 issue and “The Sea Witch” in the July 153 issue.
Reincarnation is a common theme in Dyalhis’ Weird Tales stories. There is an occult tinge to his stories with a battle of universal good and evil through the centuries. “The Eternal Conflict” could be described as psychedelic. “When the Green Star Waned” and its sequel “The Oath of Hul Jok” are crude early space opera stories. “The Sapphire Goddess” and “Heart of Atlantan” are sword and sorcery. “The Red Witch” is a caveman reincarnation story. “He Refused to Stay Dead” is about a vengeful Viking ghost.
There is a likeable aspect to his stories as they are so unique. You could maybe make a comparison to A. Merritt, but that is an imperfect comparison. Dyalhis is possibly the most interesting writer for Weird Tales that was not part of the Lovecraft circle. He was one of those oddities of the pulp magazines that continues have appeal to this day.
Back in 1985, Gryphon Books published a trade paperback collection of Henry Kuttner’s “Elak of Atantis” stories (printed with dot matrix!). When I sent my check, I included a note that they consider a Dyalhis collection. I assume it was Gary Lovisi who wrote back saying someone had that in the works. Well, it never happened. The closest we have gotten to a Dyalhis collection is Karl Edward Wagner’s Echoes of Valor III that included three Dyalhis stories.
There is an e-book collection from Wildside Press, the master of the haphazard collections and anthologies. The Nictzin Dyalhis “megapack” is missing “The Dark Lore,” “The Oath of Hul Jok,” “Who Keep the Desert Law,” “He Refused to Stay Dead,” “The Whirling Machete,” and “Gangland’s Judas.”
A hardback containing all 13 of Nictzin Dyalhis’ stories would be most welcome. My gut feeling a well done book could sell 1,000 copies.