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Synopsis

I Remember Lemuria and The return of Sathanas
by Richard S. Shaver

"Richard S. Shaver (b. 1907, d. 1975), discouraged art student and sometime leftist fellow-traveler, was a welder in the early 1930s in a noisy Ford factory in Wisconsin. He later claimed that this was where he first started hearing the voices--voices warning him of vast caves under the earth, where lurk the dero: prehistoric, devolved cannibals who prey on our minds with ancient super-science. Also in the mix: lost continents, hollow planets, starships the size of a moon, titanic god-like races of beings, and ... sexy aliens. A heady combination of pre-fabricated sci-fi memes, which would later become part of the strange loop connecting UFOs, pop culture, fan-boy obsessions, the occult, and conspiracy theories. It all started with one magazine: Amazing Stories, and its editor, Ray Palmer.

In 1944, Shaver wrote a story which was the genesis of I Remember Lemuria. This was later reworked by Palmer into the first story in this book. It was published in the March 1945 issue of Amazing (as I Remember Lemuria!). It was carefully triangulated by Palmer as both fiction and 'non-fiction,' and letters poured in from people who had seen or been abducted by 'deros'. There were over twenty sequels set in the Shaver universe, published between 1945 and 1948. The Return of Sathanas, the second novella in this book, appeared originally in November 1946 (with Satan as one part Ming the Merciless, one part interstellar procurer). The book edition, titled I Remember Lemuria (dropping the !) was published in a now very rare edition in 1948, not to reappear in print until Adventures Unlimited reprinted it in 1999.

Some fans were appalled at the exploitation of Shaver's tall tale, a drama which was played out in the letters page of Amazing. Finally in December 1948, Palmer was pressured by management; Shaver was banned from the magazine, and Palmer quit as editor of Amazing Stories in solidarity. Shaver maintained to the last that his story was true. Palmer, however, got a second act: he started Fate magazine. The very first issue broke the Arnold flying saucer story, which started the UFO craze. Shaver moved to Arkansas, continued self-publishing, and started a rock shop. He remained friends with Palmer until they both died in 1975.

Taken at face value, this is a pretty good (but not great) pair of late Golden Age sci-fi stories, albeit with more footnotes than one would expect in the genre. The writing (or editing) is punchy. The plot drives the story, rather than the need for constant exposition, as is too often the case in texts like this. However, the real importance of these texts is historic. The Shaver mythos had a huge tacit influence on 1950s and successive UFO belief systems. For instance, Shavers' 'Nor,' blonde demigods from outer space, suggest the 'Nordic' aliens of UFO lore. The tunnels of the dero became subterranean alien bases. Embedded in this short science fiction story were many of the themes which would later become accepted UFO canon."

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