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La Hire, Jean de

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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Pseudonym of French author Adolphe d'Espie (1878-1956) who began his prolific career before 1900, publishing mainly as by La Hire, though he also wrote as by Commandant Cazal, Edmond Cazal, André Laumière, Arsène Lefort, John Vinegrower and Alexandre Zorka; he published many works of sf interest over the next half century or so, including La Roue Fulgurante (1908; trans Brian Stableford as The Fiery Wheel 2013), which Stableford in his introduction claims is the first sf tale to feature an Alien abduction, and all the more interesting given the fact that the abductors travel from Saturn (see Outer Planets) in a flying saucer (see UFOs); their victims are taken to both Venus and Mercury before they are sent back home by a process of Identity Transfer. In his introduction to H Gayar's The Marvelous Adventures of Serge Myrandhal on Mars (1908), Stableford further suggests that this novel, and Gustave Le Rouge's Vampires of Mars (1908-1909), as they came out more or less at the same time as La Hire's, may have been composed in a spirit of apparently friendly competition. Apparently after being invalided out of active service during World War One, La Hire published L'Europe future: Réponse à M. H. G. Wells (1916), taking Wells's The War That Will End War (1914) to task, and advocating the balkanization of Germany and Austria after they have lost the conflict.

La Hire remains best known, however, for the Nyctalope sequence, beginning with L'Homme Qui Peut Vivre dans l'Eau ["The Man Who Could Live Underwater"] (1908), featuring The Nyctalope's father; the main protagonist of the sequence, whose proto-Superhero protagonist Leo Saint-Clair (who calls himself The Nyctalope), is a kind of Cyborg, boasting an artificial heart, night vision (hence his nom de guerre) and other artificially enhanced senses. His foes include Mad Scientists, potential dictators of the world, and the occasional Alien. Translated titles in the sequence include the first full Nyctalope volume, Le Mystère des XV (1911; trans Brian Stableford as The Nyctalope on Mars 2008), in which Saint-Clair (who does not conceal his identity) must first deal with a megalomaniac who threatens Earth from Mars, then with an Invasion mounted by the aroused Martians; Lucifer (1920; trans Brian Stableford as The Nyctalope vs Lucifer 2007), in which "Omega" Rays come close to enslaving humanity; L'Assassinat du Nyctalope (1933; trans Brian Stableford with other stories as Enter the Nyctalope coll 2009), which contains the hero's origin story (not entirely consistent with L'Homme Qui Peut Vivre dans l'Eau above); The Nyctalope Steps In (anth 2011), which contains some stories by La Hire and Sequels by Other Hands by Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier, and Return of the Nyctalope (anth 2013), which contains Le Roi de la Nuit (1943; here trans Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier as "The King of the Night" plus an original novel by the Officier team, "Return of the Nyctalope"). His pro-German writings during World War Two ended in his imprisonment; he wrote for a time as John Vineblower to avoid detection, but his last years were relatively untroubled. [JC]

Comte Adolphe d'Espie

born Banyuls-sur-Mer, Pyrénées-Oriéntales, France: 28 January 1878

died Nice, France: 6 September 1956

works (highly selected)


The Nyctalope

  • Le Mystère des XV (no book publication determined, 1911) [Nyctalope: binding unknown/]
  • Lucifer (Paris: J Tallandier, 1920) [Nyctalope: binding unknown/]
  • L'Assassinat du Nyctalope (Paris: La Renaissance du Livre, 1933) [Nyctalope: binding unknown/]
    • Enter the Nyctalope (Encino, California: Hollywood Comics/Black Coat Press, 2009) [coll: trans of L'Assassinat du Nyctalope (1933) and other stories: Nyctalope: pb/Denis Rodier]
  • Le Roi de la Nuit (Paris: Éditions du Livre moderne, 1943) [Nyctalope: binding unknown/]
    • Return of the Nyctalope (Encino, California: Hollywood Comics/Black Coat Press, 2013) edited by Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier [anth: containing trans by editors of the above as "The King of the Night", plus title novel by the editors: Nyctalope: pb/Arnaud Hascoet]
  • The Nyctalope Steps In (Encino, California: Hollywood Comics/Black Coat Press, 2011) edited by Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier [anth: containing translations, and original stories by the editors: Nyctalope: pb/Ladrönn]
  • The Nyctalope and the Master of Life (Encino, California: Hollywood Comics/Black Coat Press, 2022) [trans by Michael Shreve of "Le Maître de la Vie" (11 September 1938-17 January 1939 Le Matin): Nyctalope: pb/Ladronn]

individual titles



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