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Creator / Richard Sharpe Shaver

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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 1940s, began contributing short stories and art to pulp science-fiction 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.


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.


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 every Conspiracy Theory, 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. 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.

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

Tropes in the Shaver Mystery include:

  • Beneath the Earth: Where most of it happened
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: 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
  • 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. They 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 Morlocks in H. G. Wells' The Time Machine.


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