Amazing Stories/Volume 21/Number 06/The Observatory

The Observatory (June, 1947)
by Raymond A. Palmer
2922463The ObservatoryJune, 1947Raymond A. Palmer

Here it is, readers, in spite of Hell and High Water! The special Shaver Mystery issue! And if you think that first sentence isn't sincere, you should have been in this editorial office to help put the June issue to bed! Never in our nine years of editing have such fantastic things happened to make an issue almost impossible. As a result, many small details, many planned features, do not appear; our plans are not complete; the issue is not what we wanted it to be. But the major portion is there, and with a little study, you will see all that we intended to convey, and understand it.

Perhaps a brief recital of what happened may give you some idea of the impossibility of these things being entirely natural. First, in our nine years, a certain standard of progress has been set up between printer and publisher in the mechanics of getting out a magazine. This standard is religiously maintained. A "deadline" is the "bible" on which all actions are founded. To miss a deadline is the cardinal sin. Thus, to begin with, manuscripts, properly edited, go to the typesetter at least three weeks in advance of "press date." In this case, press date was March 13. Manuscripts went to the typesetter on February 19. They should have been delivered on February 26 in galley form, ready for page make-up. They were set up (as provable by the date at the head of each galley set in type by the typesetter) on February 20 and 21. Yet, they were not delivered to this office until March 5. Why? Because no one could locate them! They had apparently vanished into thin air. And yet, when they were finally found, they were exactly where they should have been, in the proper location, with all the proper identification to locate them instantly. When they were delivered, they were almost entirely useless, because, ranging from just a few dozen typographical errors, to as many as 92 in four inches of type, they required complete resetting of all vital passages! Even more mysterious that otherwise almost letter-perfect typographers should set so atrociously, the proofreaders who received that copy for checking, found no errors! They could look at a page with 92 errors in it, and see none. Or, as is more likely, somehow those proofs were not proofread. When this was suggested to the department heads, the comment was: "Ridiculous!" On page 129 you will find reproduced a specific passage which you can check for yourself against pages 156, 157 and 158 where the correct copy appears, exactly as it was in the manuscript. You explain those errors. The man who set it could not!

Next, there were numerous instances of duplicate galleys inserted, which, if included in the makeup, would necessitate complete remaking of the page forms if not discovered in the first makeup. Other galleys were incorrectly numbered. Certain galleys mysteriously disappeared, and yet the numbers were correct, and did not show a missing galley where one really was. The sense of particular passages was subtly changed by minor errors which were hard to catch by any proofreader not entirely familiar with the Mystery because they seemed to make proper sense and continuity. Thus, all proofreading had to be done by your editor himself, and by Mr. Hamling, the only other man in this office who could detect such a subtle change.

We aren't going to mention the hundred other things that happened to delay everything possible—the dozens of almost maliciously planned (so it seemed) interruptions from every conceivable source, the case of nerves we developed which made it impossible to type a single line that wasn't full of typographical errors; the consequent retyping and "messy" editing we had to do, all of which made the typographer's job the more confusing; the errors in titles painted into illustrations by the art department (such as "Witche's Daughter" instead of "Witch's Daughter" as it should be); the critical paper shortage that developed on this issue and on no other; the misplacing of work already done, so that it had to be done over, only to have the original work turn up in plain view exactly where you had placed it and had looked for it. We could go on, but we have more important things to put in this space. We only mention what we have as just one more proof (?) that Shaver isn't the only one who has what he calls "tamper."

Now for the stories in this issue, all by Shaver. First, "Formula From The Underworld." This story is completely fiction—except for its description of the caves. All that is completely true, says Shaver—and true because he says he has seen it many times over the ray, and some times in person—although he himself cannot say how, unless his theories of teleportation, mind control, etc., are true. Next is "Zigor Mephisto's Collection Of Mentalia" which is, in Shaver's own words, "a tale of Nydia of the cavern people, myself, and one Zigor Mephisto, descendant of an ancient and renowned family, one of which you may have heard before." Nydia is real, not fiction, Zigor Mephisto is real, and the story is true (insofar as any thought record can be determined to be true). "Witch's Daughter" is next, and the story is completely fiction, but what happens is very similar to what really happens many times, says Shaver. There are openings to the caves, and such persons as he describes do come to the surface, and for similar reasons. They also do similar things, and this is the real explanation for the many mysterious crimes, accidents and disappearances that happen all the time on the surface. The last story is "The Red Legion" which is fiction, but based on the true existence of an organization of Indians in this country, who do know of such things as the caves, and who do believe that many missing tribes of redmen did go down to live there many years ago, and are still there, although in decimated numbers. Many Indians will know that much of the story is based on fact, but few of them will corroborate it, and for very good reason. Yet, if they care to, we will publish any statement they make, either in support or in refutation.

The articles in this issue speak for themselves. We had planned others. They will appear in future issues instead. The reason is the incredible mishaps that prevented their inclusion. Also missing is one story, "Mer-Witch Of Ether 18" which will appear in a future issue, and which is a tale that Shaver considers to be quite true of the weird races of beings who do inhabit places in what we call "empty space." His concept of what we should really mean, when we say the word "spirit."

And now, for the information of those of you who "came in late" we give a "history" of the Shaver Mystery:

In September, 1943, your editors received a letter from Richard S. Shaver, who lived in Barto, Pennsylvania, giving us the key to an ancient alphabet which he claimed was the alphabet of the mother tongue of all languages, and which he did not want to die with him. We published this key in January 1944.

Almost immediately we began to receive letters from readers who had dabbled around with the alphabet and discovered that it worked amazingly well in many languages, and especially so in languages more ancient.

Also, apparently encouraged by our publication of the alphabet, Mr. Shaver (then a welder in a war plant) wrote an account of an "adventure" in caves beneath the earth at incredible depths, where lived a race of people known as dero (detrimental robot) who were evil in intent, and tero (integrative robot) who were good in intent. These people, he explained, were descendants of the "abandondero," or those human beings who were abandoned here 12,000 (?) years ago when a race of people (giants) called the Titans and another race called the Atlans left the earth in space ships because they had discovered that the sun was throwing off radioactives which were causing them to age and die who had been immortal.

Since the Titan and Atlan cities were underground, and their vast civilization immovable, all their machines and cities were left intact; thus the abandondero, taking refuge in them, inherited many wonderful things, which, because of their sun-polared destructive thinking processes, they turned to destructive purposes.

With the aid of such machines as the telaug (telepathic augmentor) and disintegrating rays, plus various instruments such as the "stim" which enhanced physical and emotional pleasures, these dero took to tormenting surface people and thereby being the basis for all of our legends of cavern wights, little people, demons, ghosts and—during the war—gremlins.

They cause many unexplained accidents, such as those train wrecks, plane crashes, cerebral hemmorhages, etc. which are otherwise unexplainable.

Further, Mr. Shaver declared that the Titans, living far away in space, or other people like them, still visit earth in space ships, kidnap people, raid the caves for valuable equipment, and, in general, supply the basis for all the weird stories that are so numerous (see Charles Fort's books) of space ships, beings in the sky, etc.

Shaver's first story (titled "I Remember Lemuria!" by your editor because he refused to believe Shaver's claim to have gotten the story from the caves) told of the Titan migration from Earth, and the leaving of imperishable records of the event, and of Earth history, by a character named Mutan Mion. It also told of the battle between two factions, the evil faction led by a sun-polared Titan named Zeit, and a good faction from space headed by a Titan goddess named Vanue, in the caves, which ended in Zeit being defeated and captured.

At the same time, L. Taylor Hansen, not having seen the Shaver stories (they were as yet unpublished) had made an important discovery, working as a scientist, which detailed this underground battle, and definitely revealed the Sioux Indians' origin as Tihuanaco, in South America, and revealed their secret tribal history which told of this battle and how they lost knowledge of the whereabouts of their city and became roamers.

Couple this with an incredible flood of letters from readers, claiming they believed the story, and correcting our mistake in attributing it to racial memory, and many letters claiming identical experiences in more or less detail and you have your editor's basis for hastily publishing the second story by Mr. Shaver (who had been stunned by receiving payment for his first, since he had intended it solely for publication so that the knowledge might not be lost) and calling it "Thought Records Of Lemuria."

These thought records are metallic strips of film on which thought is recorded, and which, when played back, causes the "listener" vicariously to experience the events recorded thereon. These records are played back to Mr. Shaver by beaming them into his brain from the caves by means of the telaug ray.

By means of teleportation, another faculty of the "rays," Mr. Shaver has seen the caves, been there, spent much time, although he confesses that so real are the "records" that it is impossible to determine (from memory) whether the event happened, or was only simulated in his mind.

Deluged by thousands of letters, and faced with such evidence that here we had something that was definitely not a fraud, your editor made a special trip to Barto to investigate. While there we heard Mr. Shaver's "voices," but to our vexation, the gist of them was that we were "a dope." Later Shaver confided he had requested them to "lay off" while your editor was there. However, we did determine that the "voices" were not due to microphones, hidden on the premises, but were either real, or in our own mind. Self-hypnosis the experts would call it. Let's say that's what it was, and save the experts more postage.

We did find out the following things: (1) Mr. Shaver is perfectly sane. If he is not, we are all nuts; (2) He is perfectly sincere about the caves, the people in them, the Titans, the space ships, and his experiences with rays, projections, voices, pains, etc.; (3) He does not attribute one single experience to what we might term a "ghost" for lack of a better term. Witches, poltergeists, goblins, gremlins, fairies, dwarfs—all of them are real, physical, alive, being either the real thing or the teleported or telepathed image of the real thing.

We found out, also, that he is an extreme materialist. He does not believe in life after death, or that man has a soul, or that things have a basis in something invisible and immaterial. If such exist, he says he has no proof, and therefore will neither accept or reject. Man may have a soul, he says, but you can't see it, taste it, feel it, smell it or hear it. Therefore, he isn't concerned with it, because there is nothing he can do with it even if he could prove it existed.

Why dream up an "astral being" to explain a thing that can more logically be explained with something requiring less faith, and more science? If you hear a voice, even if it claims to be your dead grandmother, why credit it to something that cannot be proved, when it is more reasonable to credit it to something so simple and logical as a machine as simple as radio, and the speaker's voice a real voice in a real person's larynx whose residence is right here on this earth (or under its surface) rather than in a misty "spirit world"?

The cave people, says Mr. Shaver, have themselves created these superstitions to conceal their real existence, and thus obviate any real attempt to find them. Who would look for something he does not believe to exist? That is why the caves remain secret, he says. Even if we do see a dero, we call him a ghost and pull up the bedsheets.

Mr. Shaver told us how he began to hear his voices through a welding machine he was operating, which at first picked up the thoughts of his fellow workmen, and later, weird things that terrified him. Such things as horrible screams from someone being tortured, unseen people discussing outre subjects, speaking matter-of-factly of a world that, by all rights, could not possibly exist.

Mr. Shaver quit his job and fled. But no longer was the welder needed for hearing the voices. Then came years of horror, pain, terror, flight. The "voices" became aware of the "eavesdropper" and Mr. Shaver felt he was going mad. Yet, before long, he became convinced that it was true, and beneath him lay a vast, ancient warren of abandoned cities, filled with super-scientific machines, deteriorated by time and radioactivity to much less than the beneficial result they had originally had, and operated by a race of degenerate madmen.

To "brief" the whole concept given by the series of stories written by Mr. Shaver, the Earth is honeycombed by "caverns" which are inhabited by good and bad human creatures who are victims of detrimental radiations from old and "diseased with radioactivity" machines, and also victims of a vast "secrecy" which has become so traditional that it is maintained at all costs.

These creatures (and incidentally all surface races too) are descendants of the "abandondero" who were those unfortunates who could not be evacuated from the planet when the original races who built the underground cities left this planet because they had discovered that the sun was throwing out radiations that caused aging, and death at approximately 70 years of age. (It was more in those days, because beneficial rays and machines could combat the age poisons to a certain extent.) These creatures who found their way back into the underground cities, or who were left there, guarded their havens jealously from those who did not have access to them, and this secrecy has been maintained for thousands of years. However, the secrecy has been far from complete, as witness the incredible number of legends we have of underground races. These "leaks" were covered up by creating a belief in "supernatural" things, such as ghosts and spirits, so that surface people, catching a glimpse of an underground dweller, temporarily emerging from his dwelling, would not search for them, but believe they were only phantasms.

Communication between these underground races (because they have the mechanical means to do so) and peoples who travel space in space ships, and sometimes venture near a sun-planet for raiding purposes (to steal ancient machines and supplies and to procure slaves), is postulated by Mr. Shaver, and borne out by the incredible number of reports we have and have had in the past, of visiting "ships" in the sky (such as the mysterious "air raid" suffered by Los Angeles during the war, and which the army now reveals has never been explained, except that it was no private or military plane of our own, and none of the Japs or any foreign power, but was certainly tracked by radar, and observed by many people to "appear to be rocket ships" from three to five in number). Life recently reported such a "ship" over Princeton, NJ. and laughingly said it was no "angel"; not over Princeton.

The existence in far space of the Titans and Atlans living inside dark planets. The existence of giants of incredible size; of "micro-men" living within the microcosm; of "ghost-like" creatures, who are not human in appearance, yet are intelligent, and do not die—the Titans themselves do not die so long as they avoid the deadly suns.

THE science expounded by Mr. Shaver, and that he has learned from the "caves," such as the age poisons; the exd which is the push of gravity; the nature of matter and its formation and disintegration; the science of growth—all are explained again in the same way they were originally explained, in the guise of a "story" in the form of "fiction." You can gain a knowledge of all those things by reading this issue.

NATURALLY, we cannot present you with the thousands of letters, containing almost incredible confirmation from readers and others having had the same experiences Mr. Shaver has had. We can do no more than hint at the amazing "fifth column from hell" that we have begun to uncover and which will be presented in the future . . . the incredible way in which a foreign government(s) may have obtained cavern mech. set them up in this country, and is using them to set up a fifth column to end all fifth columns in a future invasion! No, we have no proof, but we intend to present a consecutive narration of what we suspect, and maybe it will be reasonable enough to follow to its bitter end.

WE CANNOT fully explain the research we have gone into, in the matter of "spiritualism" nor our suspicion that between Shaver and the spiritualists there exists no real difference of opinion, only interpretation—that we find Mr. Shaver's opinions fully substantiated by what some call the "astral." The "astral" can very well be nothing more "uncanny" than a real cave world with real people in it with real machines to operate, instead of "astral powers." We consider "spiritualism" to be just one more proof that Shaver theories are more than theories, but can be accepted as factual, and that there is only a need for more understanding.

WE HAVE pointed out "Oahspe" as a book that is still more "evidence." Shaver admits it can well be a very fine thought record, and he agrees basically, arguing only against the "spirit" angle. Let's find out!

FOR those groups of fans who complain because this editor calls the Shaver Stories factual, we are reminded of one of the most popular and classic stories ever published in the same fan groups' favorite magazine, Unknown, edited by John W. Campbell, Jr., "Sinister Barrier" by Eric Frank Russell. We quote the statement made at that time (March 1939) by editor Campbell: "Fifty thousand words that will make you unsure of your certainties—unsure that Man rules Earth! A full-length novel based on weird and discomforting facts. The greatest imaginative novel in two decades!"

HERE is Eric Frank Russell's comment in preface to his novel. These are quotes: "It would be idle to pretend and dishonest to suggest that 'Sinister Barrier' is anything else than fiction. Some may regard it as fantasy, because it is placed in the future and depicts certain developments that have been predicted by those qualified to forecast the coming triumphs of science. But I regard it as a sort of fact-fiction solely because I do sincerely believe that if ever a story was based upon facts it is this one.

"'Sinister Barrier' is as true a story as it is possible to concoct while presenting believe-it-or not truths in the guise of entertainment. It derives its fantastic atmosphere only from the queerness, the eccentricity, the complete inexplicability of the established facts that gave it birth. I have them in the form of a thousand press clippings snatched from half a hundred newspapers in the Old World and the New. A thousand more were given me by adventurers hardier than myself; people who have explored farther and more daringly into forbidden acres than I have done.

"But perhaps my greatest debt is to two friends, one of whom asked me, 'Since everybody wants peace, why don't we get it?' while the other posed me this one, 'If there are extra-terrestrial races further advanced than ourselves, why haven't they visited us already?' Charles Fort gave me what may well be the answer. He said, 'I think we're property.'

"Critics are entitled to say, 'If you believe your plot has a factual basis, you are running an awful risk of removal by merely developing it.' I run no risk. Sinister Barrier is not fiction offered as truth: it is offered only as fiction. Therefore, it will not be believed. The natural skepticism of my readers is my safeguard."

"SINISTER BARRIER" was part and parcel of the same mystery we call "The Shaver Mystery" today! And like ourselves, Campbell called it factual in basis. Fans, consistency is a jewel! You, and Shaver, and your editor agree about about "Sinister Barrier" and its FACTS! Take a look at more of these SAME FACTS in the Shaver Mystery. We submit that Shaver has not been original. Campbell and Russell did it first! And they did it well! We agree with them to the bitter end—Man does not rule this Earth, and it is based on fact that he does not. Roll on, Shaver Mystery!