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Glossary and Character Taxonomy  Breakdown by Country of Origin   Bibliography   Table of Contents    The Best of the Encyclopedia

Graydon, Nicholas. Nicholas Graydon was created by A. Merritt (Walter Goodwin, Dr. Lowell) and appeared in “The Face in the Abyss” (Argosy All-Story, Sept. 9, 1923) and the story serial “The Snake Mother” (Argosy, Oct. 25-Dec. 6, 1930).

Nicholas Graydon is a Harvard graduate who sets out for Peru to find the lost treasure of the Incas. But Graydon is accompanied by three other Harvard graduates, and as is their wont they turn out to be a bad sort. He catches one of them trying to rape Suarra, a native woman, and stops the man from doing so. She is a member of a Lost Race of white Peruvians, and there is an instant attraction between her and Graydon. Unfortunately, the other Harvard grads don’t believe Graydon’s story, and they bind him, at which point his soul leaves his body and enters into communication with Adana, the Snake Mother, who agrees to try to protect Graydon for Suarra’s sake. Suarra appears to the Harvard grads with various gold objects and promises them more if they follow her, which they do, to the land of Yu-Atlanchi, which is inhabited by the descendants of snake-worshipers.

The Harvard grads are brought to the titular face, which is the reification of evil and which destroys them. Adana protects Graydon from a similar fate but requires that he leave Yu-Atlanchi, which he finds difficult to do. On his way out he is attacked by the invisible flying serpents which guard Yu-Atlanchi, and after his lengthy recovery in the United States he leaves to be reunited with Suarra. In the sequel the followers of the Snake Mother clash with the followers of the lizard men, and Graydon marries Suarra and goes completely native.

* I'm including the the two Nicholas Graydon serials in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because--well, I'll let John Clute and Peter Nicholls say it, from their entry on A. Merritt in the fabulous Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

Merritt was influential upon the sf and fantasy world not primarily through his storylines, which tended to be unoriginal (he acknowledged the influence of Francis Stevens on his work), or through the excesses of his style, but because of the genuine imaginative power he displayed in the creation of estranged but hypnotically attractive alternative worlds and realities. He was extremely popular during his life, even having a Pulp magazine, A Merritt's Fantasy Magazine, named after him; and Sam Moskowitz, in Chapter 12 of Explorers of the Infinite (1963), probably represents the view of many of Merritt's original readers that he was the supreme fantasy "genius" of his day. Even though, by any absolute literary standard, Merritt's prose was verbose and sentimental, and his repeated romantic image of the beautiful evil priestess was trivial – deriving as it did from a common Victorian image of womanhood (women being either virgins or devils) and from H Rider Haggard's She [see Ayesha--Jess N.]– the escapist yearning for otherness and mystery that he expressed has seldom been conveyed in sf with such an emotional charge, nor with such underlying pessimism, for his tales seldom permit a successful transit from this world. His vision of a universe whose indifference to humanity reads like malice – a vision expressed most fully in The Metal Monster and later shied away from – now seems increasingly pointed.

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