The cover of 1951’s Avon Fantasy Reader No. 17 features a great scene from “The Sapphire Siren” a short story by
Nictzin Dyalhis. The “Siren,” which is sometimes called “The Sapphire Goddess,” was first published in 1934 in Weird Tales.
The cover to this book features a perfect mix of pulp magazine appeal: A damsel running from her distress as her man, clad in bright, newstand friendly red, dispatches a green-skinned goblin. Anyone looking at the cover can immediately map out the story of the scene in their head, and that basic foundation is always good for sales.
Word is that Dyalhis wasn’t the best writer in the world, and he only contributed a little more than a dozen works under this name. What’s more interesting though is Dyalhis himself. According to many sources, he was a bit of a mystery man. Not so much that the name was used as a pen name, but that Dyalhis never revealled much about himself. Despite that, interested parties have dug up a decent amount of information on him. A fairly decent biography has been posted at Bear Alley, and its worth a read to learn more about the man.
As for the story itself, Comics on the Brain can’t seem to locate a copy of it or even a description of it from the multiple times its been reprinted, including in this book and “Heroes of Valor III,” a paperback collection from the 1980s.
In total, the Avon Fantasy Reader had 18 digest-sized issues, running from 1946 to 1952 and featured reprinted works from a variety of notable authors including Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft and C.L. Moore.