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.