War over Lemuria

Richard Shaver, Ray Palmer and the Strangest Chapter of 1940s Science Fiction

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About the Book

Life magazine described the Shaver Mystery as “the most celebrated rumpus that rocked the science fiction world.” Its creators said it was a “new wave in science fiction.” Critics called it “dangerous nonsense” and labeled its fans the lunatic fringe. Whatever else the Shaver Mystery was, it became a worldwide sensation between 1945 and 1948, one of the greatest controversies to hit the science fiction genre. Today these stories of the remnants of a sinister ancient civilization living in caverns under the Earth are an all but forgotten sidebar to the historical record.
The Shaver Mystery began as a series of science fiction yarns in Amazing Stories nearly 70 years ago. The men behind it, Ray Palmer and Richard Shaver, were derided and seldom understood by a fandom that did its best to sweep them under the carpet of history. Though Ray Palmer was one of the earliest and biggest names in SF fandom, credited with many firsts in his field, his fannish brethren have roundly ignored him, thanks to the Shaver Mystery. What is the truth behind these men and their “mystery”? This is the question writers and editors that promoted the Shaver Mystery try to answer as they reveal the behind-the-scenes story of the phenomenon known as “Shaverism.”

About the Author(s)

Richard Toronto is a journalist, former newspaper reporter and the editor of Shavertron.com, an E-zine dedicated to the Shaver Mystery, Ray Palmer and Richard S. Shaver. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Bibliographic Details

Richard Toronto
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 264
Bibliographic Info: 42 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7307-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0351-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments vi

Preface 1

Introduction 3

Part I. The Life and Times of

Raymond Alfred Palmer

 1. The Memory Comet 12

 2. Education 22

 3. Trauma 27

 4. Spilling the Atoms 34

 5. Politics 46

 6. The Inner Circle 52

Part II. Richard Sharpe Shaver

 7. Shavertown 62

 8. The Early Years 68

 9. The Wicker School of Fine Art 81

10. Through the Looking Glass 88

11. Period of Abandonment 97

12. Ionia, 1938–1943 102

Part III. The Rise and Fall of the

Shaver Mystery, 1945–1948

13. Howard Browne 116

14. Lemuria, My Lemuria 122

15. Conflict 128

16. Line in the Sand 133

17. Science of the Damned 137

18. Fanfeud from Hell 144

19. Armistice of 1948 165

Part IV. Diaspora

20. Reconstructing Ray Palmer 174

21. The Unexpected Gafiation of William L. Hamling 180

22. The Stigmata of Raymond A. Palmer 184

23. Big Trouble in Little Amherst 207

24. Artful Obsession 218

25. Martian Diary 230

26. The Inner Circle’s Last Stand, 1975–1977 237

Chapter Notes 243

Bibliography 251

Index 255

Book Reviews & Awards

“very well written…an easy and pleasant read…definitely recommend”—SFRA Review; “fascinating reading”—Fantasy & Science Fiction; “brisk, entertaining account…provides new insight into the odd, and less well-known personality that was Richard Shaver. Thoroughly researched and documented”—Los Angeles Review of Books.