the Odd Dalmas-Martin Connection

When someone exits this world, a lot of the stories you knew can come flooding back. In the case of John Dalmas, I cannot recall one that wasn’t funny or heartwarming.

He was particularly fond of telling tales of Swedes and lumberjacks – as he was both – and seemed to have not the slightest unkind bone in his body. Everyone I know who met the man, liked him; often describing him as a large puppy.

The connection between my father and John went back many years, surprisingly, even to years before they actually met in this physical plane.

Dad had long been a reader of science fiction and hoped to one day write such novels himself. Naturally, he subscribed to Analog magazine for many years.

When we moved – once again – to continue our “adventures in Scientology”, there was limited space and we had to trim the fat, so to speak, and travel light. Dad resigned himself to dumping his years-long collection of Analog magazines and let all of them go except for two issues. These two issues contained a serialized novel that he had read over and over and could still not part with it.

The novel in question was The Yngling by a first time author, John Dalmas.

Several years later, setting up shop in Flagstaff, Arizona, dad met a forestry professor named John Jones and talked for several hours about many subjects. My older brother had painted some space scenes and these paintings were hanging up in the house. Naturally, John commented on them. Dad mentioned that he was a big fan of science fiction. That’s when John mentioned having published one novel, The Yngling.

Dad got up and went to his bedroom, returning a moment later with the two issues of Analog. “This Yngling?” he asked. John was surprised but confirmed that he was indeed the author under a pseudonym.

I don’t know if John had intended to finish his life as a forest ecologist or if he planned to ever get down to writing full time, but after talking with my father for many months, that’s the path he chose.

Years later, my parents moved to a deserty landscape near Phoenix where John would visit them on occasion. This formed the setting for one of his later novels, The Reality Matrix, naming the characters who were my parents Vic and Tory Merlin.

Dad and John’s connection was strong. It formed before they met and I am certain it continues for both currently in whatever realm they now reside.


John Dalmas, 1926-June 15, 2017


In deep sorrow…

Most people may not have heard of John Dalmas but few who read science fiction in the last decades of the twentieth century can have missed his marvelous books of The Lion of Farside books, the Fanglith Series, or his military science fiction works, The Regiment, &c.

I first met the author while he was a university professor in the College of Forestry at Northern Arizona University. He attended a Scientology lecture on campus presented by my father, Rod Martin, and soon became a frequent visitor at our house.

Learning of my interest in writing, he invited me to a community writers’ workshop held once a week at the public library in Flagstaff. He would often read selections of his one published novel, at that time, The Yngling, as well as other projects he had underway.

He co-authored a novel with my brother, Carl Martin (Touch the Stars: Emergence, Tor Books, 1983), as well as one with my father, Rod Martin (The Playmasters, Baen Books, 1987), and he even used a chart devised by another of my brothers, the late Larry Martin, to assist the readers’ understanding the philosophy of the T’sel in the novel The Regiment (on p.209, Baen, 1987). He was gracious enough to proof-read a couple of my early novels and I had the pleasure of proofing a couple of his.

I only met his son, Jack, once but knew his daughter Jude well enough as my first wife was one of her best friends.

We stayed in touch over the years after I left Flagstaff, and he left as well to go to Seattle, where I got a chance to visit him and his wife, Gail.

Over the years I have been able to keep up with his output at the local bookstore. This was before the internet and I had no complete listing of his works, just nabbed one up when I found it. One day I picked up one called Walkaway Clause in a used bookstore. I wrote him and mentioned the find – it was several years old by that time – and he wrote back and asked if he could have it. Seems he did not get the usual author copies of that volume when it was released and he had never seen it. It took me a couple of years to find another copy in a used bookstore to fill out my collection.

Over the years, our communications have, quite naturally, gotten further and further between as his health declined.

I was hoping to hear soon that one of his historical novels from Swedish history had finally made it to print but it seems, now, that may never be happening.

If you have never read his works, I recommend you check them out. Some are available free online. All of them are good reads, in my opinion. I will probably be re-reading my collection again in the near future.

Those volumes and my memories are all that’s left of him on this side of the pale.

Thank you, John, and farewell.