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Otherwhens, Otherwheres: Favorite Tales
John Dalmas
Silver Dragon Books, 171 pages

Otherwhens, Otherwheres
John Dalmas
John Dalmas has worked as a farm worker, parachute infantryman, army medic, stevedore, coal-heaver on the Great Lakes, logger, smoke jumper, district forester, technical writer and free-lance editor. He started college at 24, and began fiction writing as a student at Michigan State University, where his stories appeared regularly in the monthly college magazine. Other interests intervened and he didn't get around to writing fiction again until, in his 40s, he finally finished his Ph.D. Then he wrote and sold a novel, The Yngling and two novelettes to John W. Campbell at Analog. He and his wife, Gail, live in Spokane, Washington. They have two grown children and three grandchildren.

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A review by Donna McMahon

John Dalmas has been reading SF much of his life and writing it since 1968, but he is not what most people think of when they picture a science fiction writer. Dalmas has packed all sorts of jobs into his 76 years, including farm worker, soldier, merchant seaman, logger, smoke jumper, night janitor, forester, research ecologist, writer, editor, and amateur Swede.

So Dalmas had lots to draw on in writing 25 novels, most of them military space opera and old-fashioned SF adventure where men are men and pioneering on another planet means pulling stumps, plowing fields, and building a strong new community with your neighbours. In the Dalmas universe, heroes are people who find the courage to do what's right, and not everything that happens can be entirely explained by science.

If you like that kind of yarn, you will settle down happily with the opening story in his new anthology Otherwhens, Otherwheres. "Gullikksen and the 500-Pound Hallucination" is a tall tale set in 1943, about a Norwegian coal stoker and the invisible alien he has befriended.

My personal favourite in the book is "Out of the North a Giant," in which settlers on a new world discover that a spaceship has crash-landed, releasing a dozen "yorash" -- large, insanely aggressive, intelligent aliens that have already begun murdering humans. Big Jack leads a hunting party to track and kill every last yorash, although he cannot help but feel increasing pity for the displaced creatures.

These stories are all reprints, originally published from 1985-1994, and a couple that were written for theme anthologies are weak, concentrating on concept and setting rather than story. Still, there are enough strong stories here to make the collection worthwhile, and all of them benefit from the author's introductions.

Friends of John Dalmas -- and they are legion -- will not want to miss Otherwhens, Otherwheres, complete with John's irrepressible grin on the cover.

Copyright © 2003 Donna McMahon

Donna McMahon discovered science fiction in high school and fandom in 1977, and never recovered. Dance of Knives, her first novel, was published by Tor in May, 2001, and her book reviews won an Aurora Award the same month. She likes to review books first as a reader (Was this a Good Read? Did I get my money's worth?) and second as a writer (What makes this book succeed/fail as a genre novel?). You can visit her website at

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