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Richard Sharpe Shaver (October 8, 1907 - November 5, 1975) was your grandpa's David Icke.

Intrigued? Let's start at the beginning.

Richard Sharpe Shaver was an American factory worker who, in The '40s, began contributing short stories and art to Science Fiction Pulp Magazines, notably Amazing Stories. He became renowned for a short story called I Remember Lemuria! about a man held captive by monstrous subhuman creatures that lived beneath the Earth. The story became so popular that Amazing Stories ran almost nothing but sequels and other related material for some time afterwards, to the dismay of some of their readership, including a young Harlan Ellison. After the craze had run its course, Shaver abandoned writing to pursue an interest in geology and died in 1975.

Pretty standard stuff so far, right? That's because we haven't gotten to the good part.

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Richard Shaver maintained that he wasn't writing fiction. Following a workplace accident, he became convinced that he'd gained the power of telepathy and could hear not only the thoughts of the people around him, but secret conversations between the monsters described in his stories (which he named "Deros", short for "detrimental robots") and the anguished screams of their human victims. He sent his work to Amazing Stories as a warning to mankind, but his publisher, Ray Palmer, saw gold and edited his manuscript to make it fit the magazine's style.

Sure enough, the story was a hit — and not only with readers who enjoyed Shaver's work as fiction. Scores of letters began pouring in from people claiming to have had similar experiences as Shaver, hearing or having been captured and tortured by the Deros. So-called "Shaver Mystery Clubs" started popping up around the globe where believers in Shaver's mythos could share their experiences, some of which are still extant. Over time, the Shaver Mystery grew to include other elements, each more fantastical than the last, including Teros ("good" counterparts to the evil Deros; humanoid cavern dwellers who liberate the Deros' human captives) and the notion that the Deros were in contact with alien invaders (a response to the Flying Saucer craze of The '50s) and plotting to exterminate the human species.

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Oh, and Shaver's interest in geology? He thought he could read Tero and Dero hieroglyphs in the rocks.

Deros themselves seem to have fallen by the pop-cultural wayside, supplanted by The Grays (and more recently, the Reptilian Conspiracy) as the ultimate hub of Conspiracy Theories, but they still crop up now and then among devotees of pulpy weirdness. Dungeons & Dragons and, even more centrally, its spinoff Pathfinder both feature "derros", and they turn up in Japanese horror movie Marebito too, while Jordan Peele's horror movie Us also depicts a subterranean world of machine-like half-people. Even Harlan Ellison got over his frustration with dero-mania, at least briefly, with his short story "The Elevator People" presenting a very Shaver-like scenario.

While Shaver's work has had a long-term impact on weird fiction, it has been suggested that he himself was influenced by the film serial The Phantom Empire, which also describes an advanced subterranean civilization.

Not to be confused with Richard Sharpe the fictional English soldier.


    Works by Shaver: 
  • "I Remember Lemuria" (Amazing Stories, March 1945)
  • "Thought Records of Lemuria" (Amazing Stories, June 1945)
  • "Cave City of Hel" (Amazing Stories, September 1945)
  • "Quest of Brail" (Amazing Stories, December 1945)
  • "Invasion of the Micro-Men" (Amazing Stories, February 1946)
  • "The Masked World" (Amazing Stories, May 1946)
  • "Cult of the Witch-Queen" (Amazing Stories, July 1946)
  • "The Sea People" (Amazing Stories, August 1946)
  • "Earth Slaves to Space" (Amazing Stories, September 1946)
  • "The Return of Sathanas" (Amazing Stories, November 1946)
  • "The Land of Kui" (Amazing Stories, December 1946)
  • "Joe Dannon Pioneer" (Amazing Stories, March 1947)
  • "Loot of Babylon" (Amazing Stories, May 1947)
  • "The Tale of the Red Dwarf Who Writes with his Tail" (Amazing Stories, May 1947)
  • "Formula from The Underworld" (Amazing Stories, June 1947)
  • "Zigor Mephisto's Collection of Mentalia" (Amazing Stories, June 1947)
  • "Witch's Daughter" (Amazing Stories, June 1947)
  • "The Red Legion" (Amazing Stories, June 1947)
  • "Mer-Witch of Ether 18" (Amazing Stories, August 1947)
  • "When the Moon Bounced" (Amazing Stories, May 1949)
  • "The Fall of Lemuria" (Other Worlds, November 1949)
  • "We Dance for the Dom!" (Amazing Stories, January 1950)
  • "The Sun-Smiths" (Other Worlds, July 1952)
  • "Beyond the Barrier"(Other Worlds, November 1952-February 1953)
  • "The Dream Makers"(Fantastic, July 1958)
  • The Secret World (co-written with Ray Palmer)

Tropes in the Shaver Mystery include:

  • Beneath the Earth: Where most of it happened
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Shaver himself, to the nth degree.
  • Conlang: The language "Mantong", a precursor to all human languages. In Mantong, every sound has a specific meaning, and by applying its grammatical rules to any word, phrase, name, or sentence in any modern language, one could discover a hidden meaning. Notable because Shaver claimed to have discovered the language, not invented it.
  • For the Evulz: All the motivation the Deros need to mess with us
  • Hidden Elf Village: The Deros and Teros have their roots in the same tradition of Victorian era "Lost Race" literature that inspired J. R. R. Tolkien's elves, books like She and Edward Bulwer-Lytton's The Coming Race.
  • Mole Men: The subterranean deros.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Dero is short for "Detrimental Robot", even though they're not actually robots.
  • Peeve Goblins: Deros are this on a macro level, with a hand in more or less every tragedy and disaster you've heard of
  • Precursors: The Atlans, whose technology the Deros had appropriated after they vanished
  • The Schizophrenia Conspiracy: Many psychologists have noted that Shaver's worldview has a lot in common with the fantasies created by some paranoid schizophrenics, right down to the "influencing machine" motif. Compare with James Tilly Matthews and his "Air Loom".
  • Ultraterrestrials: The ancestors of the Teros and Deros left the Earth because the sun's radiation is harmful to them; those that stayed behind gradually evolved into their respective two forms, similarly to the Eloi and the Morlocks in The Time Machine.

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