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

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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.



Saving the World (part 3)

My Adventures in La-La Land (the Church of Scientology)
[ – continued – ]


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In 1978, the Church of Scientology did a little research and it was discovered that the most successful Scientology Mission on the planet per capita was our Flagstaff Mission. Most missions had been established in large urban areas, half-a-million people or more. Flagstaff’s population was 24,000.

Aside from that distinction, it was also the highest mission on the planet, sitting at 7,200 feet above sea level.

Unfortunately, these marvelous distinctions soon garnered the wrong sort of attention.

The Church in Los Angeles launched an investigation into what we were doing and ordered Dad and Mom to the coast to answer some charges. Like we were making that kind of money!

The newly established Church in Phoenix decided to set up their own Mission in Flagstaff and told everyone to avoid the Mission already established.

Trying to understand why we were being attacked, Dad did some checking around and found out that other Mission holders were being similarly treated. Apparently, as Ron had recently gone into seclusion, whoever was running the church did not seem to know anything about organization.

Rather than play the game, Mom and Dad simply renounced the Church, stopped sending in their percentage of receipts, and renamed the office without any further reference to or reverence of the Church on the west coast.

Those members who had gone over to the new Phoenix-established mission severed links as we were excommunicated from the Church. Still quite a few of the “regulars” remained familiar faces around the old homestead.

Evidently, one person in Phoenix was making a big deal about “bringing the Martins to heel” and started investigating everyone who ever had a connection with us, telling them they needed to come in immediately for remedial counseling.

That started a caravan of Phoenicians coming up north to get their counseling with us rather than the Phoenix Org.

Two years later, most of the people in charge of the “witch hunt” were excommunicated from the Church and Mom and Dad were offered re-admission to the Church… as soon as they came to Los Angeles to straighten out a few little details.

Like we were making that kind of money!

In any event, Dad declined the “honor” because he had already began further researches beyond what Scientology had been pushing. He figured since Ron was no longer researching advancing the technology, someone had to. And since what he was doing was not “Scientology” there was no need to reconnect.


*****************

Every few years I get contacted by the Scientology people asking me to get involved again.

When I mention my excommunication, they either claim it has now been removed or that I was never excommunicated in the first place, only my parents.

These people just won’t let up and won’t take a “no” for an answer. I can understand their attitude quite well. I was, after all, on staff at Scientology centers off-and-on for seventeen years. I was raised in the Church and had seen it go through quite a few changes.

Unfortunately, while Ron was alive and actively working to move the technology forward, I saw progress and hope. What has happened since then is rehashing the material, re-writing, editing and re-issuing the same old stuff.

It would take more than some fancy new packaging and slick salesman to convince me…

So I am not convinced to return to La-La Land.

Like Dad, there are many people over the years who left the Church and continued researching and developing new material. This church condemned “heretical material” continues the essence of what Hubbard was doing and is keeping the technology alive, evolving, pertinent.

This is the “independent” Scientology of which John Dalmas was asking. It is the “freezone” of the church in continuation of Hubbard’s technology. His church had over six million followers once and sixty churches around the world. Today, there is likely less than a million active members of the church and only about forty churches worldwide. And I hear the Church in Israel has announced their disconnection from Miscavige’s version. The President of the Church has been missing for years as has Miscavige’s own wife. That seems to be happening a lot in this wunderkind.

The mangled version David Miscavige is peddling over at his “new improved Ideal Church of Scientology” seems very similar to the beginnings of the Christian Church to me. The “orthodox” religion promulgated by Paul – who never met Jesus – won over all the variant forms fostered by the real disciples.

And in both cases: thanks, but I’ll stick with the heretical version.

It seems something closer to me like “saving the world” than the current church which seems unlikely – judging by its current course – to be able to save even itself. It seems to be dissolving faster than Tom Cruise’s marriages.


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Saving the World (part 1)

My Adventures in La-La Land (the Church of Scientology)

I received an email yesterday from John Dalmas, the award-winning science fiction author, asking if I had heard anything about “Independent” Scientology.

I’m sure most people have heard something about the Church of Scientology either pro or con. Either through the antics of Tom Cruise, John Travolta, or Kirstie Ally, a few of their leading celebrity endorsers.

Why Mister Dalmas wrote me about the cult has an unusual – and twisted – history. It is where we met…


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My family got involved in the “space age religion” back in 1956, before there was much of a space age. You could say I was raised in the church but that would not quite be correct. Dad was a research chemist (and agnostic) Mom was a Baptist preacher’s kid and took us four boys in tow every Sunday to the local Southern Baptist Church.

Dad’s search had begun at an early age and this drew him to major in psychology at the University of Texas. He very quickly realized most people involved in the program were trying to figure out what was wrong with themselves, just the same as his personal search. After he realized the psychology professor was in the same boat, Dad figured out psychology must not have the answers. He transferred his major to chemistry and looked for other avenues for his personal research.

I remember some the fascinating books he was reading when I was still too young to understand much of it. Proceedings of the American Society of Paranormal Research, Psycho-Cybernetics, and Twenty Cases in Support of Reincarnation were just a few of the ones I remembered. I recall the names Morrison, Snow, and Korzybski on the books. Don’t ask me what the books were about as I was only seven years old when I noticed such things and did not get too involved.

But soon Dad did involve us in the search. We would go ghost hunting, dowsing, UFO watching and that sort of thing. I figured this was a normal upbringing and everyone went through this intense search for the magical, spiritual world that seemed to overlay the physical world we could see.

Somewhere in his search he came across an ad for the Self Realization Fellowship and he read Paramahansa Yogananda’s works. There is a River by Thomas Sugrue caught his eye and he was off to study Edgar Cayce.

Then he came across the book Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health by L. Ron Hubbard. Being an avid science fiction reader, Dad was already familiar with the name of the author. Impressed with the book, Dad was soon trying the processes out on us kids. And very quickly it led into the area of past lives.

He communicated with the Founding Church of Scientology in Washington, D.C., and began taking correspondence courses from them. At that time, the only Scientology Church was the one in Washington.

In 1961, Dad got accepted for a job with Melpar, a chemical company in Fairfax, Virginia, and we sold the house in West Texas and moved to the East Coast so he could pursue his studies at the Church.

By the time we got there, the job had evaporated and we had to live in a condemned farmhouse just outside of Poolesville, Maryland, for several months. [The house is still there, still occupied, and still as condemned today.]

Fortunately, he got a job with NASA which, thanks to President Kennedy, was expanding. We moved into Bethesda, Maryland, and Dad started his courses at the Church in D.C. Soon, Mom was attending them as well.

They went to a conference at the Mayflower Hotel in 1962 where I met Ron Hubbard. I believe it was the last time he was in the country while he was actively running the Church.

By 1964, all four of us boys had joined in the action and were attending courses as well.

Yes, we were all going to “save the world”… but from what, exactly, I was a tad unsure.

(to be continued)