Nictzin Dyalhis

Nictzin Wilstone Dyalhis (June 4, 1873 – May 8, 1942) was an American chemist and short story writer who specialized in the genres of science fiction and fantasy. He wrote as Nictzin Dyalhis. During his lifetime he attained a measure of celebrity as a writer for the pulp fiction magazine Weird Tales.

Nictzin Dyalhis
BornJune 4, 1873
DiedMay 8, 1942 (aged 68)
Salisbury, Maryland
OccupationShort story writer, chemist
GenreFantasy, science fiction


Weird Tales October 1927
Dyalhis's novelette "The Dark Lore" was the cover story in the October 1927 Weird Tales

Firm facts about Dyalhis's life are few, as he coupled his limited output of fiction with a penchant for personal privacy and an avoidance of publicity. His year of birth, usually cited (with a question mark) as 1879, was long uncertain,[1] and he was speculated to have been born in England—or Pima, Arizona. His World War I draft registration card and U. S. Census records establish his birthdate as June 4, 1873, and his state of birth as Massachusetts. His father, reportedly of Welsh extraction, was also born in Massachusetts, and his mother in Guatemala. Even Dyalhis's name is uncertain; in his stories, Dyalhis played with common spellings, so that "Earth" becomes Aerth and "Venus," Venhez, and he was thought to have possibly done the same with his own name, turning the prosaic "Dallas" into the exotic Dyalhis. According to L. Sprague de Camp, however, Dyalhis was his actual surname, inherited from his Welsh father, and his given name Nictzin was also authentic, bestowed on him due to his father's fascination with the Aztecs.[2] His draft card establishes his full name as Nictzin Wilstone Dyalhis.

Among the imaginative readers of his stories, Dyalhis acquired a reputation for possessing unusual abilities and an exotic history as an adventurer and world traveller. The known facts of his life are more prosaic. At some time during his youth he lost one eye, as noted on his draft card. He worked as a chemist, and married Harriet Lord; in 1920 the couple was living with her mother in Sugar Grove, Warren County, Pennsylvania. Harriet was an inmate of the Warren State Hospital in 1930, while Nictzin was living in Maryland in the early 1940s, reportedly in difficult financial circumstances. He died in Salisbury, Maryland on May 8, 1942.

Literary career

Dyalhis's earliest stories, including "When the Green Star Waned" (Note: This story should be given notable credit in the creation of Superman because of its obvious influence on creator Jerry Siegel.[citation needed] ) and its sequel "The Oath of Hul Jok", are fairly firmly in the science fiction genre; the former is sometimes credited for introducing the term "blaster" for a ray gun. Yet his overall output is most easily and readily categorized as occult fantasy, involving spiritual travel on the astral plane, journeys to Hell, and reincarnation.[4]

In "The Eternal Conflict" (1925) and "The Dark Lore"(1927) adventurers in the astral plane encounter the traditional Judaeo-Christian Hell. "The Red Witch" (1932), "The Sapphire Goddess" (1934; variant title "The Sapphire Siren"), "The Sea-Witch"(1937) and "The Heart of Atlantan"(1940) all feature souls that transmigrate across time or undergo reincarnation to enact conflicts from the past.

In a field of popular literature characterized by prolific production, Dyalhis gained a kind of reverse fame by the extreme paucity of his output: he published only eight stories in Weird Tales over a fifteen-year period. Several additional stories appeared in Adventure and Ghost Stories magazine, and gangster fiction pulps. In the verdict of one SF commentator, Dyalhis "established a reputation in Weird Tales out of proportion to either the quality or quantity of his contributions."[3] Yet his stories were very popular with readers, and a few, notably "The Sapphire Goddess," have been featured in anthologies.

Nine of Dyalhis's stories were included in the collection The Sapphire Goddess, published in 2018, the first time his work appears to have been collected in print. The collection leaves out the two stories from Adventure and the two from Underworld.


Avon Fantasy Reader 17
Cover of the fantasy fiction magazine Avon Fantasy Reader no. 17 (1951) featuring "The Sapphire Siren" by Nictzin Dyalhis.
  • "Who Keep the Desert Law" (Adventure, October 20, 1922) .
  • "For Wounding—Retaliation" (Adventure, November 20, 1922. Reprinted in Wildside Press reprint of Tales of Magic and Mystery, 2004).
  • "When the Green Star Waned" (Weird Tales, April 1925; reprinted January 1929)
  • "The Eternal Conflict" (Weird Tales, October 1925)
  • "He Refused to Stay Dead" (Ghost Stories, April 1927. Reprinted in Ghost Stories:The Magazine and its Makers: Volume 2, 2010, edited by John Locke ).
  • "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" (Underworld Magazine, December 1933)
  • "The Sapphire Goddess" AKA "The Sapphire Siren" (Weird Tales, February 1934)
  • "Gangland’s Judas" (Complete Underworld Novelettes, August 1934)
  • "The Sea-Witch" (Weird Tales, December 1937; reprinted July 1953)
  • "Heart of Atlantan" (Weird Tales, September 1940)


  1. ^ Dziemianowicz gives his birthdate as 1880
  2. ^ L. Sprague de Camp, Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers: the Makers of Heroic Fantasy, Sawk City, Wisc., Arkham House, 1976; p. 301.
  3. ^ Michael Ashley, The Time Machines: The Story of the Science-Fiction Pulp Magazines from the Beginning to 1950, Liverpool, Liverpool University Press, 2000; p. 43.


  • Dziemianowicz, Stefan. "Nictzin Dyalhis" in John Clute and John Grant (eds), The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. London: Orbit Books, 1997, p. 305.
  • Jaffery, Sheldon, and Fred Cook. The Collector's Index to Weird Tales. Bowling Green, OH, Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1985.
  • Moskowitz, Sam. "Nictzin Dyalhis: Mysterious Master of Fantasy." In Echoes of Valor III, edited by Karl Edward Wagner, Tor, 1991.
  • 1920 United States Federal Census.
  • 1930 United States Federal Census.
  • U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.

External links

Beyond Time and Space

Beyond Time and Space is an anthology of science fiction stories edited by American writer August Derleth. It was first published by Pellegrini & Cudahy in 1950. Several of the stories had originally appeared in the magazines The Century, The Atlantic Monthly, The Strand, Blue Book, Blackwood's Magazine, Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, Astounding Stories, Maclean's, The American Legion Magazine and Startling Stories. A heavily abridged paperback edition was issued by Berkley Books in 1958.

Echoes of Valor III

Echoes of Valor III is an anthology of fantasy stories, edited by Karl Edward Wagner. It was first published in paperback by Tor Books in September 1991.

The book collects eight classic fantasy short stories by various authors, along with associated commentary.

Farnsworth Wright

Farnsworth Wright (July 29, 1888 – June 12, 1940) was the editor of the pulp magazine Weird Tales during the magazine's heyday, editing 179 issues from November 1924-March 1940. Jack Williamson called Wright "the first great fantasy editor".

June 4

June 4 is the 155th day of the year (156th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 210 days remaining until the end of the year.

Karl Edward Wagner

Karl Edward Wagner (12 December 1945 – 14 October 1994) was an American writer, poet, editor and publisher of horror, science fiction, and heroic fantasy, who was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and originally trained as a psychiatrist. He wrote numerous dark fantasy and horror stories. As an editor, he created a three-volume set of Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian fiction restored to its original form as written, and edited the long-running and genre-defining The Year's Best Horror Stories series for DAW Books. His Carcosa publishing company issued four volumes of the best stories by some of the major authors of the so-called Golden Age pulp magazines. He is possibly best known for his creation of a series of stories featuring the character Kane, the Mystic Swordsman.

His disillusionment with the medical profession can be detected in the stories "The Fourth Seal" and "Into Whose Hands". He described his personal philosophy as nihilistic, anarchistic and absurdist, and claimed, not entirely seriously, to be related to "an opera composer named "Richard". Wagner also admired the cinema of Sam Peckinpah, stating "I worship the film The Wild Bunch".

Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers

Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers: The Makers of Heroic Fantasy is a work of collective biography on the formative authors of the heroic fantasy genre by L. Sprague de Camp (1907-2000), first published in 1976 by Arkham House in an edition of 5,431 copies. Nine chapters (2-10) are revisions from a series of ten articles, also titled "Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers," that initially appeared in the magazine Fantastic and the fanzine Amra between 1971 and 1976 (the tenth article, on L. Ron Hubbard, was omitted from the book). The book has been translated into French as Les pionniers de la fantasy.


A raygun is a science fiction particle-beam weapon that fires what is usually destructive energy. They have various alternate names: ray gun, death ray, beam gun, blaster, laser gun, laser pistol, phaser, zap gun, etc. In most stories, when activated, a raygun emits a ray, typically visible, usually lethal if it hits a human target, often destructive if it hits mechanical objects, with properties and other effects unspecified or varying.

Real-life analogues are directed-energy weapons or electrolasers, electroshock weapons which send current along an electrically conductive laser-induced plasma channel.

The Magic of Atlantis

The Magic of Atlantis is an anthology of fantasy short stories, edited by Lin Carter. It was first published in paperback by Lancer Books in November 1970.The book collects seven fantasy tales by various authors set on the fictional lost continent of Atlantis, with an introduction by Carter.

Warren State Hospital

Warren State Hospital is a public psychiatric hospital in Warren, Pennsylvania, established in 1880. The original hospital was designed by John McArthur, Jr. and constructed under the Kirkbride Plan. Its population peaked at 2,562 residents in 1947. As of 2017, the hospital is still active.Famous residents included Nictzin Dyalhis and Joe Root. Some famous staff included Penny Colman and Philipp Schwartz.

Weird Tales

Weird Tales is an American fantasy and horror fiction pulp magazine founded by J. C. Henneberger and J. M. Lansinger in late 1922. The first issue, dated March 1923, appeared on newsstands February 18th. The first editor, Edwin Baird, printed early work by H. P. Lovecraft, Seabury Quinn, and Clark Ashton Smith, all of whom would go on to be popular writers, but within a year the magazine was in financial trouble. Henneberger sold his interest in the publisher, Rural Publishing Corporation, to Lansinger and refinanced Weird Tales, with Farnsworth Wright as the new editor. The first issue under Wright's control was dated November 1924. The magazine was more successful under Wright, and despite occasional financial setbacks it prospered over the next fifteen years. Under Wright's control the magazine lived up to its subtitle, "The Unique Magazine", and published a wide range of unusual fiction.

Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos stories first appeared in Weird Tales, starting with "The Call of Cthulhu" in 1928. These were well-received, and a group of writers associated with Lovecraft wrote other stories set in the same milieu. Robert E. Howard was a regular contributor, and published several of his Conan the Barbarian stories in the magazine, and Seabury Quinn's series of stories about Jules de Grandin, a detective who specialized in cases involving the supernatural, was very popular with the readers. Other well-liked authors included Nictzin Dyalhis, E. Hoffmann Price, Robert Bloch, and H. Warner Munn. Wright published some science fiction, along with the fantasy and horror, partly because when Weird Tales was launched there were no magazines specializing in science fiction, but he continued this policy even after the launch of magazines such as Amazing Stories in 1926. Edmond Hamilton wrote a good deal of science fiction for Weird Tales, though after a few years he used the magazine for his more fantastic stories, and submitted his space operas elsewhere.

In 1938 the magazine was sold to William Delaney, the publisher of Short Stories, and within two years Wright, who was ill, was replaced by Dorothy McIlwraith as editor. Although some successful new authors and artists, such as Ray Bradbury and Hannes Bok, continued to appear, the magazine is considered by critics to have declined under McIlwraith from its heyday in the 1930s. Weird Tales ceased publication in 1954, but since then numerous attempts have been made to relaunch the magazine, starting in 1973. The longest-lasting version began in 1988 and ran with an occasional hiatus for over 20 years under an assortment of publishers. In the mid-1990s the title was changed to Worlds of Fantasy & Horror because of licensing issues, with the original title returning in 1998. As of 2018, the most recent published issue was dated Spring 2014.

The magazine is regarded by historians of fantasy and science fiction as a legend in the field, with Robert Weinberg, author of a history of the magazine, considering it "the most important and influential of all fantasy magazines". Weinberg's fellow historian, Mike Ashley, is more cautious, describing it as "second only to Unknown in significance and influence", adding that "somewhere in the imagination reservoir of all U.S. (and many non-U.S.) genre-fantasy and horror writers is part of the spirit of Weird Tales".

Weird Tales (anthology series)

Weird Tales was a series of paperback anthologies, a revival of the classic fantasy and horror magazine of the same title, published by Zebra Books from 1980 to 1983 under the editorship of Lin Carter. It was issued more or less annually, though the first two volumes were issued simultaneously and there was a year’s gap between the third and fourth. It was preceded and succeeded by versions of the title in standard magazine form.

Each volume featured thirteen or fourteen novelettes, short stories and poems, including both new works by various fantasy authors and reprints from authors associated with the original Weird Tales, together with an editorial and introductory notes to the individual pieces by the editor. Authors whose works were featured included Robert Aickman, James Anderson, Robert H. Barlow, Robert Bloch, Hannes Bok, Ray Bradbury, Joseph Payne Brennan, Diane and John Brizzolara, Ramsey Campbell, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, August Derleth, Nictzin Dyalhis, Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, Robert E. Howard, Carl Jacobi, David H. Keller, Marc Laidlaw, Tanith Lee, Frank Belknap Long, Jr., H. P. Lovecraft, Robert A. W. Lowndes, Brian Lumley, Gary Myers, R. Faraday Nelson, Frank Owen, Gerald W. Page, Seabury Quinn, Anthony M. Rud, Charles Sheffield, Clark Ashton Smith, Stuart H. Stock, Steve Rasnic Tem, Evangeline Walton, Donald Wandrei, and Manly Wade Wellman, as well as Carter himself.

Carter habitually padded out the volumes he edited with a few his own works, whether written singly or in collaboration (the latter generally "posthumous collaborations" with Clark Ashton Smith in which he wrote stories on the basis of unused titles or story ideas from Smith’s notebooks).

Weird Tales 2

Weird Tales #2 is an anthology edited by Lin Carter, the second in his paperback revival of the American fantasy and horror magazine Weird Tales. It is also numbered vol. 48, no. 2 (Spring 1981) in continuation of the numbering of the original magazine. The anthology was first published in paperback by Zebra Books in December 1980, simultaneously with the first volume in the anthology series.

The book collects fourteen novelettes, short stories and poems by various fantasy authors, including both new works by various fantasy authors and reprints from authors associated with the original Weird Tales, together with an editorial and introductory notes to the individual pieces by the editor. The pieces include a "posthumous collaboration" (the story by Smith and Carter).

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