The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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October 1st, 2013 · No Comments

Richard Toronto worked for years on a biography of Richard Shaver, the curious writer whose stories about caverns, ancient machines, and the notorious dero had such an impact on early ufology and on science fiction.  The result, War Over Lemuria, has now been published by McFarland, and is racking up good reviews.  So much material had to be cut, however, that he followed up with a companion volume, Shaverology.  Richard, knowing that I’ve long been interested in Shaver, kindly sent me a copy.

Shaverology is not a biography, but a collection of Shaver goodies; it presupposes a familiarity with the first book, or at least with Shaver’s life.  There’s much in here not only about the “Shaver Mystery,” as his stories about the caves came to be known, but on his fan club, his failed publishing company, and his obsession with picture rocks; as well as photos, letters, reprints of rare pamphlets, poetry, artwork, clippings, and much more.  Ray Palmer, Shaver’s editor, friend, and sometime nemesis, is also in evidence, with chapters on his editorial hoaxes (he liked to invent contributors, complete with fake bios and photos), his predictions, his numerous magazines — even how he came to have a DC superhero named after him.  I was particularly happy to see material by Shaver’s wife Dorothy, by his old friends Richard Horton and W. G. Bliss, and by his daughter Evelyn Bryant.

Both the science fiction and the UFO community have long been dismissive of Shaver; he has, unexpectedly, been more popular in the art world, with exhibits of his paintings and rock photos.  As I’ve pointed out before, you need not accept his claims to find him an endearing original, imaginative and soulful.

I’ve occasionally posted about Shaver on this site; here, for example, is one of his paintings.  For more on War Over Lemuria and Shaverology, please visit Richard’s website.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

Tags: Books

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