(October 7, 1907 – November 5, 1975)
Richard S. Shaver was a welder in the early 1930s in a Ford factory in Wisconsin. He later claimed that this was where he first started hearing the voices — voices warning him of vast caves under the earth, where lurk the dero: prehistoric, devolved cannibals who prey on our minds with ancient super-science. Also in the mix: lost continents, hollow planets, starships the size of a moon, titanic god-like races of beings, and even sexy aliens. This was the “Shaver Mystery.”
It all started with Amazing Stories, and its editor, Ray Palmer. Shaver wrote a story which was the genesis of "I Remember Lemuria". This was reworked by Palmer into the first story in this series. It was published in the March, 1945 issue of Amazing as "I Remember Lemuria". There were over twenty sequels set in the Shaver universe, published between 1945 and 1948. Shaver also created the Mantong Alphabet, published in Amazing in 1944.
Some fans were appalled at Shaver's tall tale, a drama which was played out in the lettercolumn of Amazing. Finally in December, 1948, Palmer was pressured by management; Shaver was banned from the magazine, and Palmer quit as editor of Amazing Stories. Shaver maintained to the last that his story was true. He remained friends with Palmer until they both died in 1975.
His nickname was Shave.
|From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959|
|Fantasy author whose stories in Amazing, 1944-48, raised one of the most spectacular feuds ever to hit the world of stfandom. The business actually began with a letter in a 1944 Amazing offering Shaver's Mantong alphabet, which allegedly assigned meanings to all the letters of the Roman alphabet that gave the secret Occult Meaning of all human words. (They never did explain how to use it on languages with different alphabets.) In March 1945, with "I Remember Lemuria!", Shaverism really got under way. Tho, it's said, much of his stuff was re-written by RAP or one of his stable the general theme of the Shaver Mystery was Shaver's very own. This Mystery -- an inaccurate word, since it was no mystery to those who'd seen other of Palmer's antics -- related to existence of malignant deroes in caverns under the Earth, and was only a facet of the vaster Shaver Mythos. This latter, developed in later stories, proclaimed the existence of a race, the Elder Gods, who by avoiding Dis continue to develop thruout their immortal lives. (Dis, short for "disintegrant energy", was an insidious stuff which acted as you'd expect in a full-strength blast and even when attenuated saturated the neurons and caused unsane thought -- very like Original Sin in some other mythological systems.) Once they inhabited Earth, but when Sol began to give off Dis they first built a giant cavern system under the surface (the "Caves") and, finding this ineffective as protection, evacuated the planet, leaving behind their radiation-contaminated super-machines ("Elder Mech") and a few hopeless cases of Dis-infection, the Abandondero. ("Dero" means "disintegrant energy robot": somebody whose mind has been destroyed by the Dis-saturation of neurons mentioned above.) These became the ancestors of surface humanity and the deroes of the caverns; the latter now use the abandoned Elder Mech to control the surface dwellers and make war on one another, at which point things stood when Shaver's electric welder began to talk to him. (A sane cave-dweller [Tero, or integrant energy robot] had decided to Reveal All to him.) Shaver entered the Caves -- ten miles north of Amherst, Mass, according to a personal communication -- checked, and brought back the information which he incorporated into his stories, guarded from Dero vengeance by the sane cavedweller, Nydia.
This might have been an amusing and ingenious piece of fantasy, but Palmer published it, and demanded that it be accepted, as fact. Fans, as might be expected, grotched most acutely at such a claim, seeing in it the revolting nadir of Palmerism; the completion of his shift from fictionalized science to profitable superstition in the name of commercial appeal to the boob element.
In February '46 Palmer wrote to Fantasy-News claiming that fandom had missed a great opportunity by failing to deluge him with praise for the Lemurian stories: "Overnight a new fandom has sprung up, with a powerful organization which will get all the credit. All the fans can do now is sit helplessly back and watch the fireworks..."
A sample of the fireworks: June '46, Assistant Editor Hamling announced in a letter to Speer's weekly Stefnews that Palmer had cracked up and was confined in an asylum. A long-distance call to Ziff Davis having confirmed that Palmer was "seriously ill" and Hamling was doing his job for the present, Speer broadcast the word. Palmer (no noticeable straitjacket) wrote an indignant denouncement to Fantasy Times, calling it all a vile hoax by the fans -- but apparently got the signals mixed with Hamling, who wrote in the same issue of FT that it had all been a deliberate trick on his part. All to impress people he claimed to care nothing for.
Ackerman was leader of the campaign to get fans to boycott and fight the Ziff Davis mags with all available resources, but others contributed: a meeting of the QSFL solemnly passed a resolution expressing the opinion that the Shaver "Cave" Stories actually endangered the sanity of their readers, and bringing the menace to the notice of the Society for the Suppression of Vice [for which adherence to an even worse enemy of sense and sanity they will undoubtlessly spend several thousands of years in Hell]. A PhilCo discussed a proposal that a 1000-signature petition be organized to get Amazing and Fantastic Adventures banned by the Post Office, but this imbecility Gott sei dankt did not meet with approval.
Palmer, who did not look for his readership among fans anyway, could afford to ignore such measures and, finding fans falling away, established the Club House, under Rog Phillips, in 1947, allegedly to seduce enough fans to split fandom's opposition. Results are told under Graham-Ackerman feud.
The move, if actually so intended, was successful in that fan sniping faded away -- or, as one FAPA member put it, whenever there was a showdown most fans refused to stand up for principle -- but the cease-fire came about not so much thru the operations of the Club House as thru (1) the fact that fan protests' ineffectiveness led us to stop in disgust and (2) the rise of the Insurgent Attitude about this time, which found matter for ridicule in the concept of the Dignity of Science Fiction.
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