|Hi, this is Bill Ectric. I like to lose myself in arcane archives, looking for
unexplained mysteries and secret histories. Enter Shavertron, a website
created by Richard Toronto, and a major influence on my novel, Tamper.
The following is quoted with permission from one of Mr. Toronto's many
The original Shavertron was a fanzine devoted to the Shaver Mystery and
the life and times of Richard Sharpe Shaver and his editor, Ray Palmer. This
leaves the playing field wide open since the Shaver Mystery is rife with
UFOs, conspiracies, evil weirdos living inside the earth, mind control,
abductions, a high-tech elder race of aliens predating our history, and of
course, the Sci-Fi pulp zine scene of the late 1940s.
The mystery began in a 1945 issue of AMAZING STORIES magazine with an
article titled Warning to Future Man. Editor Ray Palmer and writer Richard
Shaver collaborated from there to bring Shaver's unusual cosmology into
the world of Sci-Fi pulp magazine literature.
Behind the scenes, a feverish correspondence ensued, wherein Palmer
learned that Shaver had an even more bizarre tale to tell. As the story
went, Shaver had lived among the denizens of an underground civilization
that exists within the Earth's mantel. These underworld people have the
ability to control earthly affairs via thought control ("tamper") using
wondrous machinery left by aliens who visited our world long before the
dawn of man.
Sales climbed to incredible heights during the Shaver Mystery heyday.
Letters of support and congratulations poured in. Palmer's hunch that
Richard Shaver's tales would punch up sales did that and more. It was
creating a new fan base for Amazing Stories.
As sometimes happens when something seems to be going so well, a
problem arose when Palmer informed his readers that the Shaver yarns,
now being cranked out at white-hot speed each month, were based on
factual events, just as Shaver said. Palmer began arguing, debating, and
generally lobbying readers to seriously consider Shaver's claims. On the one
hand, this lured occultists, mystics, and Forteans into the Amazing Stories
fold. The way they saw it, there was truth to be mined in the pages of
Amazing; some readers even became amateur explorers and spelunkers in
the hope of finding cavern portals to Shaver's fabled underworld. But on
the other hand, some readers thought the Shaver Mystery was giving
science fiction a bad name.
And so it came to pass that a vast chasm loomed within fandom. Those who
read Amazing Stories and followed the Shaver series with interest were
called Shaverites. Those who shunned the Shaver hoopla generally
generaly preferred Astounding Science Fiction, edited by John W.
Campbell, and called themselves "rational, science-based fans." Luminaries
like Forrest J Ackerman sustained this ongoing feud, which continued
unabated for nearly four years.
The Shaver Mystery gasped its last breath when Shaver and Palmer died
within two years of each other in the mid-1970s. We stopped publishing
Shavertron in 1992 since most Shaver Mystery readers were gone (mostly
dead) with few leftovers to take their place.
Writers like Jim Pobst, Brian Tucker, Doug Skinner, Tal, Timothy Greene
(Mr. UFO) Beckley , Mary Martin (The Hollow Earth Hassle), Branton, Bill
Bliss and Gene Steinberg did what they could to keep the Mystery going.
The scene eventually merged with water cooler chit-chat about UFOs,
abductions and government conspiracies, all of which were a big part of
the Shaver Mystery. Back in 1947, the Shaver Mystery was a bizarre topic of
household conversation (probably at cocktail time). Today, however, its
obscure Sci-Fi history is being rediscovered by a new circle of oddity
seekers and outsider art buffs.
Tamper Home Page
|Lower left photos: Shaver researcher Richard Toronto in sunglasses, Richard
Sharpe Shaver with beard, and Publisher of Amazing Stories Ray Palmer