Introduction On Racism Epigraphs A History of the Pulps A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Glossary and Character Taxonomy Breakdown by Country of Origin Bibliography Table of Contents The Best of the Encyclopedia
Semi-Dual. Semi-Dual was created by J.U. Giesy (Jason Croft, Meade Stilman, Van Wyck, Dr. Xenophon Zapt) and J.B. Smith and appeared in thirty-two stories in The Cavalier and Argosy All-Story Weekly from 1912 to 1934, beginning with “The Occult Detector” (Cavalier, Feb. 17, 1912).
Semi-Dual is a Superhuman Occult Detective. Prince Abduel Omar of Persia, is, variously, an astrologer, a mystic, a telepath, and a psychologist. Prince Omar is known as “Semi-Dual” because of his habit of solving problems "by dual solutions--one material for material minds--the other occult, for those who cared to sense a deeper something back of the philosophic lessons interwoven in the narrative." His primary tool for solving solutions is astrology, at which he is both talented and completely accurate. He is a fervent believer in the "many other esoteric angles of thought and the application of higher laws of force," and that astrology can be used to precisely predict a person's actions. Based on the time of birth, Semi-Dual can accurately predict what a person will do and when she or he will do it.
Semi-Dual uses his astrology to fight evil and to protect women, which is a particular interest of his. He is successful at this. Semi-Dual lives on the 20th floor of the Urania Building in New York City, in a wonderful penthouse, with a nice marble staircase and a luscious garden. Semi-Dual’s opponents include Bhutia, a crooked swami, Lt. Jean Marsal, a traitorous French officer at Fort Grampel in Africa, and various gangsters. Semi-Dual’s greatest enemy is the Black Brotherhood, a cult of devil-worshipers devoted to the cause of “Erlik, Commander of the Hosts of All Evil.” They are led by the vile Otho Khan. The war between Semi-Dual and the Black Brotherhood is long and involved: the Brotherood sends assassins after Semi-Dual, but they are either hypnotized by Semi-Dual and turned over to the police or are converted Semi-Dual’s cause. (One of these assassins, Lotis, falls in love with Semi-Dual and marries him). The Brotherhood and sends psychic bombs at Semi-Dual and duel with him telepathically, but Semi-Dual eventually defeats them.
Semi-Dual is a large man, strongly built, full of confidence and competence, with a hooked nose, gray eyes, and strong, handsome features. The son of a Persian noble and a Russian princess, he customarily dresses in white robes lined with purple. Semi-Dual is assisted by Henri, his friend and servant.
* I'm including the Semi-Dual stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because they're fun. J.U. Giesy wrote a lot of stories for a range of pulps, but he was never better--by a great distance--than in the Semi-Dual stories, which combine occult mysteries with a very pulpy protagonist and extremely pulpy opponents. The narration is at the least competent, the action exciting, the horror moments appropriately chilling (in a pulp way), the enemies wonderful in their pulpiness (Psychic bombs! Telepathic duels! "Erlik, Commander of the Hosts of All Evil!")--the Semi-Dual stories are a very enjoyable souffle of occult detective fun.
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