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June 1998
 
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I Remember Lemuria by Richard S. Shaver, 1948

In 1943 Ray Palmer, editor of Amazing Stories, opened a letter from Richard Shaver, who said he was being telepathically harassed through his welder's helmet by evil beings living inside the earth. Roll over, Doc Smith; tell Hugo Gernsback the news. Unlike the average editor, Palmer wanted to see more.

Shaver delivered, describing how, during a jail stint, he had been carried off to the inner earth by Tero - good robots - who, for 12,000 years, had battled Dero - bad robots - for control of earth's population. Palmer rewrote Shaver's ravings and, beginning in 1945, for over two years published the results in Amazing, along with Could-It-Be-True? Editorial musings, and countless outraged letters. Sales, naturally, quadrupled.

"Shaver's" initial narratives, herein, are dire even by period standards. What lends this book its unique flavor are Palmer's endless, stonefaced footnotes regarding mutative rays, stim machines (e.g. orgasmatrons), why surface women make the best sex slaves, the hazards of spelunking and the likelihood of Nazi/Dero collaboration.

Before Palmer left (or, was fired from) Amazing, he slipped from science-fiction's bonds long enough to found Fate magazine. Issue one featured Kenneth Arnold's account (Palmer-penned, I'm sure) of the flying saucers which, in 1947, he'd been the first - far from the last - to see.

For all this Palmer earns his place as my favorite black sheep in science fiction's all-inclusive family - sheep in black might be more apt, considering.

—Jack Womack

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