This Tragic Earth

This Tragic Earth
Catalog # SKU1516
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name William Michael Mott & Richard Shaver


This Tragic Earth

A Previously Unpublished Manuscript

By Richard Sharpe Shaver
Compiled by Wm. Michael Mott

The interest from the art world in Shaver's work that is now occurring eluded him entirely during his lifetime. Interest in his work, from different perspectives, can be found in the following circles:

1. The Art Crowd (where he's now hailed as an "Outsider Artist")
2. The Science Fiction Crowd
3. The Mysteries/Unexplained/UFO Crowd.

As far as I know, this is the only work, which, as a body, covers all that territory. Whereas some might see the value of one piece out of the rogfogo packet as an art piece, for instance, someone like Richard Toronto (Shaver friend and renowned publisher of SHAVERTRON) would see the value of keeping everything together for historical purposes. As a phenomenon, though, Richard Shaver encompasses all of these areas, and more or less reflects a time in American history marked by cold war paranoia, the emergence of new folklore and even superstition systems, and also the rise of science fiction from a "dirty" and disrespected genre, to something that in many ways formed our pop culture and influenced society.

The material in this book, for the most part, was sent to Ray Palmer. There was the book itself, This Tragic Earth, along with a packet of photos of sliced pieces of rock, through which Shaver had exposed light onto photographic paper. The "rock books", as Shaver called them, he also called rokphotos and rogfogos, the latter name probably derived from cognates in his legendary Mantong Alphabet, the ancestral language of humanity and related beings. Oh yeah, it nearly slipped my mind-the Mantong, and the story that went with it, I Remember Lemuria, were what started the whole ball rolling back in '43. So, going back to the first paragraph of this introduction, add "linguist" or "philologist" to the list of Shaver's self-taught accomplishments.

Whatever the case, Richard Sharpe Shaver was, in his own way, a visionary: a science-fiction mystic (he hated the term "mystic", though), a dreaming materialist, and an artistic, poetic soul of rare talent and sensibility. Only now, after he's gone, does the world slowly, dimly, begin to realize what it has lost, as if awakening from the stupefying effects of a dero telaug machine.

Better late than never.

From the Introduction:
The Surreal Reality of Richard Sharpe Shaver:

What you hold in your hands is a Book of Wonder-one man's wonder, his sense of awe and mystery-a mystery which fascinated readers for fifty years. What you hold is, in part, a facsimile of one of the rare lost notebooks of Richard Sharpe Shaver (1907-1975), fiction writer, non-fiction writer, artist, poet, dreamer, and philosopher. And his philosophy is best summed up in one word:


Beware of the deros (detrimental robots), the subhuman/superhuman degenerates below.

Beware of their flying machines, which Shaver described in identical detail before the first "official" flying saucer reports came to light.

Beware of modern society, a demented world secretly run by subterranean dementos, and at the mercy of their manipulative and mind-destroying rays.

Beware of the Past, when the moon fell, the oceans rose, monsters and human-animal hybrids roamed, the sun grew evil, the ancients left the planet, and their refugees-our ancestors-dug into the ground to survive. Some eventually came out into daylight again, but the others remained below, from whence they secretly rule the world today, both devolved and evolved, and as far removed from modern humans as we are from chimpanzees.

Beware of human arrogance, folly, egotism, short-sightedness, warmongering, environmental destruction, and general stupidity.

Beware of all of these things, because all of these things and more were encompassed by Richard Shaver's worldview, and he was not bashful about sharing his opinions, whether they appeared in a science-fiction fantasy tale about the pre-cataclysmic world for magazines like Amazing or Fantastic (often hinted at as "truth" by the author), or in "serious" and sincere literature warning of the Hidden World below; or in the lessons he found in his famous "rock books," wherein which he found images that he often turned into paintings.

About the Author Richard Sharpe Shaver :

(b. 1907 Berwick, Pennsylvania, d. 1975 Summit, Arkansas) was an American writer and artist.

He achieved notoriety in the years following World War II as the author of controversial stories which were printed in science fiction magazines, (primarily Amazing Stories), wherein Shaver claimed that he had personal experience with a sinister, ancient civilization that lived in caverns under the earth. The controversy stemmed from the fact that Shaver and his editor/publisher Ray Palmer claimed Shaver's writings, while presented in the guise of fiction, were fundamentally true. Shaver's stories were promoted by Palmer as "The Shaver Mystery".

Very little is reliably known about Shaver's early life. He claimed to have worked at an automobile factory, where, in 1932, odd things began to occur. As Bruce Lanier Write notes, Shaver "began to notice that one of the welding guns on his job site, 'by some freak of its coil's field atunements,' was allowing him to read the thoughts of the men working around him. More frighteningly, he then picked up the telepathic record of a torture session conducted by malign entities in caverns deep within the earth." (According to Bakun, Shaver offered inconsistent accounts of how he first learned of the hidden cavern world, but that the assembly line story was the "most common version." (Bakun, 116) Shaver said he then quit his job, and became a hobo for a period.

Bakun writes that "Shaver was hospitalized briefly for psychiatric problems in 1934, but there does not appear to have been a clear diagnosis." (Bakun, 115) Bakun notes that afterwards, Shaver's whereabouts and actions cannot be reliably traced until the early 1940s.

In 1943, Shaver wrote a letter to Amazing. He claimed to have uncovered an ancient language he called "Mantog," a sort of Proto-World language which was the source of all Earthly language. In Mantog, each sound had a hidden meaning, and by applying this formula to any word in any language, one could decode a secret meaning to any word, name or phrase. Palmer applied the Mantog formula to several words, and said he realized Shaver was on to something.

Palmer wrote to Shaver, asking how he had learned of Mantog. Shaver responded with a 10,000 word document entitled "A Warning to Future Man." Shaver wrote of tremendously advanced pre-historic races who had built cavern cities inside Earth before abandoning Earth for another planet due to damaging radiation from the sun. Those ancients also abandoned some of their own offspring here, a minority of whom remained noble and human "Teros", while most degenerated over time into a population of mentally impaired sadists known as Dero--short for "detrimental robots." Shaver's "robots" were not mechanical constructs, but were robot-like due to their savage behavior.

These Dero still lived in the cave cities, according to Shaver, kidnapping surface-dwelling people by the thousands for meat or torture, and using the fantastic "ray" machines that the great ancient races left behind to project tormenting thoughts and voices into our minds. Dero could be blamed for nearly all misfortunes, from minor "accidental" injuries or illnesses to airplane crashes and catastrophic natural disasters. Women especially were singled out for brutal treatment, including rape, and Dash notes that "Sado-masochism was one of the prominent themes of Shaver's writings." (Dash, 229) Though generally confined to their caves, Shaver claimed that the Deros sometimes traveled by spaceships or rockets, and had dealings with equally evil extraterrestrial beings. Shaver claimed first-hand knowledge of the Dero and their caves, insisting he had been their prisoner for several years.

Palmer edited and rewrote the manuscript, increasing the total word count to a novella length 31,000. Palmer insisted that he did nothing to alter the core elements of Shaver's story, but that he only added an exciting plot line so the story would not read "like a dull recitation." (Bakun, 116) retitled "I Remember Lemuria!"; it was published in March, 1945 issue of Amazing. The issue sold out, and generated quite a response: between 1945 and 1949, letters poured in attesting to the truth of Shaver's claims (tens of thousands of letters, according to Palmer).

The correspondents, too, had heard strange voices or encountered denizens of the hollow Earth. One of the letters to Amazing was from a woman who claimed to have gone into a deep subbasement of a Paris, France building via a secret elevator. After months of rape and other torture, the woman was freed by a group of Teros. (Dash, 230) Another letter claiming involvement with Deros came from Fred Crisman, later to gain notoriety for his role in the Maury Island Incident and the John F. Kennedy Assassination. "Shaver Mystery Club" chapters sprang up in several cities. The controversy gained some notice in the mainstream press at the time, including a mention in a 1951 issue of Life magazine.


The Shaver Mystery Clubs had a surprising degree of longevity: representatives of a club discussed the Shaver Mystery on John Nebel's popular radio show several times through the late 1950s; Nebel thought the discussion was entertaining, but in extant recordings, he was also openly skeptical about the entire subject.

In the 1960s and 1970s, now living in obscurity, Shaver looked for physical evidence of the bygone pre-historic races. He found it in certain rocks, which he believed were "rock books" that had been created by the great ancients, and embedded with legible pictures and texts. For years he wrote about the rock books, photographed them, and made paintings of the images he found in them to demonstrate their historic importance. He even ran a "rock book" lending library through the mails, sending a slice of polished agate with a detailed description of what writings, drawings, and photographs were archived by Atlanteans inside the stone using special laser-like devices.

There have been exhibits of Shaver's art and photographs in the years since his death. Artist Brian Tucker created an exhibition about Shaver's life and work in 1989 at California Institute of the Arts, and presented Shaver's work again in later years at the Santa Monica Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Gallery of Chapman University in Orange County, California. Shaver's art has also been exhibited in art galleries in New York City, and in a traveling exhibition of "Outsider photography" called "Create and Be Recognized" that originated at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco in 2004. In that exhibition, which toured the US, Shaver's "rock book" photography was grouped with works by famous "outsider artists," including Henry Darger and Adolf Wolfli.

Influence and references to the Shaver Mystery

In his UFO books of the mid-1950s author Morris K. Jessup promoted a story similar to the Shaver Mystery, with good and bad space aliens influencing humanity, is found As noted above, writer Harlan Ellison reportedly thought the Shaver Mystery was nonsense. If so, that didn't stop him from apparently borrowing elements of the mystery for at least one of his stories. "From A to Z, in the Chocolate Alphabet" featured 26 brief stories, some a few pages long, others a comprising only few sentences. One story, "The Elevator People" reports that "There are five hundred buildings in the United States whose elevators go deeper than the basement." Those unfortunates who descend to the caverns emerge nearly catatonic after being "treated" by the evil cavern inhabitants. (Ellison, 167)

The relative success of "The Shaver Mystery" in acquiring adherents from science fiction fandom may have influenced L. Ron Hubbard to invent Dianetics and promote it via SF magazines.

Shaver and UFOs

In the summer of 1947, Kenneth Arnold claimed to have seen some unusual flying objects near Mt. Rainer. His report sparked widespread interest in unidentified flying objects, and Palmer was quick to argue that the "flying saucers" were validation of the Shaver Mystery--for several years, he noted, Shaver had mentioned the Deros' supposed spaceships. The idea that Shaver and Palmer had somehow predicted or pre-staged the "flying saucer" craze was later championed by writer John Keel.


About the Compiler Wm. Michael Mott:

Wm. Michael Mott is the Creative Director for a high-performance software company. He is also a freelance artist and writer, and writes both fiction and non-fiction. He has worked as an artist/designer for Fortune 500 companies, for an NSF Engineering Research Center, and for a variety of freelance clients such as book and magazine publishers.

His artwork has appeared in many publications, such as Computer Graphics World Magazine, Computer Artist, IEEE Computer, IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications, PHOTO/Electronic Imaging, DRAGON Magazine, and others. He's created artwork and graphic design for mass-market book covers, posters, brochures, packaging, CD-ROM covers, art collections, and digital/web-based media.

Mr. Mott won several design awards, from regional Advertising Federation awards for printed material, to awards for web site graphics and design. His artwork has been featured in the exhibition "In Dreams Awake: Art of Fantasy" at the Olympia and York Gallery, 1988; at the 1987 World Fantasy Con, Con*stellation, and others.

Softcover, 8.5" x 11", 108+ pages
Perfect-Bound- Illustrated


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