“When the Green Star Waned”

This week’s bit of weird fiction being discussed over at LibraryThing.

Review: “When the Green Star Waned”, Nictzin Dyalhis, 1925.

Cover by Hannes Bok

Since I’m feeling lazy and I’ve read this story twice now, I’m going to do something different with this review.

The plot: the residents of Venus get worried about the Green Star changing colors, come to Earth to see humans have been enslaved by other aliens, capture one, and return with a fleet to expel them from Earth.

Here are my reactions on reading this story in 2013.

This story was a chore to read, but, evidently, in his day, Dyalhis was popular. The name is thought be a pseudonym. I found a whole website devoted to seeking out his identity and listing his influence on early space opera and the tentative claim that this was the first story to use the word “blaster”.

This story references World War One

Centuries ago, the Aerthons [Earthians], divided into nations, warred. A mighty empire, hoping to dominate the planet, attacked a little country as a commencement. Another and larger nation hastened to the rescue of its tiny neighbor. A great island kingdom was drawn into the fray. A powerful republic overseas took hand in the matter; so, ended the strife.

Technology accelerated after the war, and more uses were discovered for gold. That led to the synthetic production of gold. But aggressive production of gold by the “Mongulians” empties the repository of the universe’s “primordial Aethir”. (The story is full of vaguely spiritualist notions and references to aether – understandable before Einstein’s relativity theory but the Michaelson-Morley experiment had been done already). 

The “Mongulions” (making this something of a Yellow Menace story too) open a dimensional doorway accidentally allowing the evil inhabitants of the dark side of the “Moun” (our moon) to conquer Earth and enslave humanity. 

The story involves a group of variously talented aliens from the different planets of our solar system battling these amorphous, too-dense-to-be-effected-by-blasters aliens. 

The story’s tone is a bizarre attempt, I think, at hearty humor via anachronistic sounding English and the cast of characters includes the narrator who is a historian. It’s almost like a “magnificent seven” story. In fact, there are seven aliens that go to Earth, worried about the “green star waning” and find an enslaved humanity. 

I can see how this story can be seen as an important evolutionary piece in sf’s development if not on its own merits: interplanetary war with superscience, a confederation of aliens (back in the days when each of the solar system’s planets were thought to have their own race), pulchritudinous babes (Aerth is home of legendarily beautiful women), dimensional doorways, and aliens on the moon. In fact, the tone reminded me a bit of Richard Shaver’s work.

Having read it again, yesterday, I think the evolutionary significance is not that great apart from, possibly, “blaster” showing up here first and the idea of a breach in the aether allowing an invasion.

I did notice four additional things this time. 

First are the Christian elements. The Venhezians (Venetians) worship a “Looped Cross”. The Aethians (Earthmen) have souls, sparks of light, that leave their bodies when they are mercifully killed by the Venhezians. The Lunarions have no souls, but “dull red sparks” that die out in the aether of space. They are discordant beings, driven off Earth by harmonious song. The “Planetary Chain” reminds one of the Great Chain of Being. The Lunarians are rather demonic, “Lords of the Dark Face”. The dark side of the moon is called Hell.

Second, Dyalhis, evidently, according to the bio material in the Megapack, was of Welsh descent though American born. (And, yes, that was his real name.) That makes the idea of harmony as a weapon an amusing manifestation of an ethnic obsession, here the Welsh love of music.

Third, I think the Mongulians are an allusion to the U.S.S.R. 

Fourth, there is this:

That something was radically wrong with our neighbor, everybody already knew, for many years before the green light of Aerth had become perceptibly dimmer. Little attention, however, had been paid at first, for, by interplanetary law, each planet’s dwellers remained at home, unless their presence was requested elsewhere. A wise idea, if one stops to consider.

I suspect Dyalhis was thinking of the Johnson-Reed Act also known as the Immigration Act of 1924 which greatly reduced immigration to America for over 40 years. I suppose you can see the idea of weakening the “Primorial Aethir” by synthesizing gold and making it possible for the Lunarions from the dark side of the moon as novel. That doesn’t make this story more interesting.

2 thoughts on ““When the Green Star Waned”

  1. 1412064gk January 30, 2022 / 10:32 am

    If you’re interested in more Green Star stories, there’s Lin Carter’s series:
    Under the Green Star (1972)
    When the Green Star Calls (1973)
    By the Light of the Green Star (1974)
    As the Green Star Rises (1975)
    In the Green Star’s Glow (1976)

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