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The UFOs are piloted by an ancient underground race who remain undecided whether to enslave or to assist the surface dwellers.
According to Ray Palmer, who was fiction editor of the Ziff-Davis stable of magazines from February 1938 to September 1949, he received a letter in September 1944 from Richard S. Shaver, who claimed to have discovered an ancient language that “should not be lost to the world.” More or less on a whim, Palmer decided to print the letter, complete with sample of the alleged language, in the next issue of Amazing Stories.
The publication of the letter brought an avalanche of mail to Palmer’s desk from readers who wanted to know more about Shaver and his mysterious language. Smelling a good story in the making, Palmer contacted Shaver and received a ten-thousand-word manuscript in reply. Impressed with the sincerity of the crude manuscript, which Shaver had ominously entitled “A Warning to Future Man,” Palmer renamed the piece “I Remember Lemuria,” added a few trimmings and polish, and published it in the March 1945 issue of Amazing Stories.
In the next few weeks the magazine received fifty thousand letters from readers who had been intrigued, enthralled, or frightened by Shaver’s “true” story. For a magazine whose usual mail response was somewhere around forty-five letters a month, such a deluge of mail showing overwhelming reader interest in the “Shaver Mystery” was beyond phenomenal. Palmer had no difficulty convincing the circulation director that they should increase their usual print run by fifty thousand for a follow-up Shaver piece. Amazing Stories maintained that print figure for the next four years while Palmer ran the series to its conclusion, thereby setting off what Life magazine (May 21, 1951) would declare “the most celebrated rumpus that ever rocked the science-fiction world.”
Shaver’s stories claimed to be true accounts of human interaction with a race of malformed subhuman creatures called “dero,” who inhabit a vast system of underground cities all over the world. The ancestors of the dero were a race of people called the Abandondero, who were “abandoned” when the “Titans” or “Atlans” from Lemuria fled Earth in spaceships, fearing that extensive exposure to the sun’s rays were limiting their life span. Because the Abandondero denied themselves completely of the sun’s positive, as well as potentially harmful, radiation, vast numbers of the cave dwellers began to degenerate into physically stunted near-idiots, no longer capable of constructive reasoning. According to Shaver, these were the “dero,” the detrimental or degenerate robots. (Robot, as Shaver uses the word, doesn’t mean a mechanical representation of a human, but a designation for those who are governed by degenerative, negative forces.)
Standing between the viciousness of the degenerate dero and the surface civilization are the “tero” (“T” was the Atlans’ symbol of deity in their religion; therefore the “t” in tero represents good). The tero have perfected methods of staving off most of the degenerative effects of their subterranean way of life by the use of certain machines, chemicals, and beneficial rays. Shaver’s “warning” to future humankind is that the dero are becoming more numerous and have scattered the benign tero with constant attacks. The greatest threat to the surface dwellers lies in the grim reality that the dero have access to all the machines of the Atlan technology, but they lack the intelligence or the highly developed moral sense of the ancients to use these machines responsibly.
The dero have possession of “vision ray machines” that can penetrate solid rock and pick up scenes all over the planet’s surface. They have access to the Atlans’ teleportation units and can accomplish instant transport. Long ago they gained control of the technology that can induce “solid” illusions, dreams, and compulsions in top-siders. In addition to aerial craft (UFOs), the dero possess death rays that can wreak terrible havoc.
The dero are notorious for their sexual orgies, and they apply “stim” machines that revitalize sexual virility and “ben” rays that heal and restore the physical body. These mechanisms were created by the ancient Atlans thousands of years ago and are still in perfect working order, thanks to the technical perfection with which they were constructed.
According to Shaver, present-day surface-dwelling humans are the descendants of the Abandondero who were unable to retreat underground at the time of the great exodus of the Titans from Earth. Through the centuries, the human species has developed a greater tolerance for the sun and escaped the kind of mental and physical deterioration that perverts the dero and weakens the tero. Although humans have a common heritage with the tero and the dero, the passage of time has prevented the great mass of surface dwellers from possessing more than dim memories of the glory days of Atlantis, Lemuria, Mu, and the epochs when there were “giants in the earth.” However, Shaver cautions us, by no means have the dero forgotten us. These sadistic monsters take enormous delight in creating terrible accidents, confusing the goals of our political leaders, provoking surface wars between nations, and even in causing nightmares by focusing “dream mech” on us while we sleep.
Palmer admitted that he had enlarged Shaver’s original 10,000-word manuscript to a 31,000-word story for Amazing Stories. However, he insisted that although he had added the trimmings, he did not alter the factual basis of Shaver’s manuscript—except in one instance: “I could not bring myself to believe that Shaver had actually gotten his alphabet and his ‘warning to future man,’ and all the ‘science’ he propounded from actual underground people,” Palmer said. “Perhaps I made a grave mistake, but I altered what he stated were his ‘thought-records’ into ‘racial memory.’ I felt certain that the concept of racial memory would be far more believable to the readers, and offer a reasonable and perhaps actual explanation of what was really going on in Shaver’s mind—which is where I felt it really was going on, and not in any caves or via any ‘telaug rays’ or ‘telesolido-graph’ projections of illusions from the cavern ray operators.”
Only a small coterie of science-fiction buffs followed the Shaver mystery, but millions of individuals were sighting the mysterious objects in the sky. Almost from the initial report of UFOs in the modern era, certain researchers have identified them as originating from the Hollow Earth and suggested that the inhabitants of the inner earth might well be the descendants of the survivors of Atlantis. Among the theories most often cited are the following:
- UFOs are piloted by an ancient humanoid race that antedates Homo sapiens by at least a million years. Their withdrawal from the surface world survives in the collective human unconscious as the legend of Atlantis.
- Atlantis was an actual prehistoric world that created a superscience and destroyed itself in civil war. The surviving Atlanteans sought refuge from radioactivity by retreating under the earth’s crust. They have continued to monitor the new race of surface dwellers and accelerated their observation after the detonation of the first atomic bombs.
- Extraterrestrial beings established a colony on Earth about fifty thousand years ago when Homo sapiens was establishing itself as the dominant species. They gave primitive humankind a boost up the evolutionary ladder, then grew aghast at humanity’s perpetual barbarism and left the surface world to establish underground and undersea bases from which to observe how their cosmic cousins would develop without direct interference and assistance.
Ray Palmer, who went on from the Shaver episode to become editor-publisher of the magazines Flying Saucers and Search, said that after decades of research he was personally convinced that the answer to the UFO mystery was to be found on our own planet, rather than in outer space. “The more one thinks of the extraterrestrial thesis, the more impossible it is to prove,” he said. “UFOs have been seen in the skies since man’s prehistory, and today there seems to be a virtual traffic jam of objects coming in from somewhere. The supposition that the saucers have an Earth base and may be manned by an older terrestrial race brings the cosmic concept down to reality. Geographically speaking, our own atmosphere is a heck of lot closer than Alpha Centauri!”
Suppositions about the Hollow Earth did not begin with science-fiction writers and UFO theorists in the 1950s. The great British astronomer Edmund Halley (1656–1742) is best known for having calculated the orbit of a comet that returns to the solar system every seventy-six years. During the next decade, Halley turned his attention away from the celestial in favor of the subterranean. He claimed the Earth was hollow and populated by humans and beasts.
Halley’s Hollow Earth hypothesis was based on the fact that the earth’s magnetic field varies over time. Halley suggested that there were several magnetic fields, one of which emanated from a sphere within the earth. Halley eventually developed the idea that there were four concentric hollow spheres inside the earth. He believed the inner earth was populated with life and had a luminous atmosphere. The aurora borealis, he concluded, is actually an emanation of radiant gases that escape from within the earth through thin layers of crust at the poles.
Perhaps the most enthusiastic proponent of the Hollow Earth idea was John Cleves Symmes, who was born in 1780 in New Jersey. Symmes immersed himself in books on the natural sciences and by 1818 was publicizing his version of the Hollow Earth, which had concentric spheres and received light and warmth from the sun through large holes in the planet’s surface at each of the poles.
Symmes was able to impress two influential men who would take his cause further. James McBride, a wealthy Ohioan, wrote articles supporting the concentric-spheres version of the Hollow Earth. He lobbied a U.S. senator from Kentucky, Richard M. Johnson—later vice president of the United States under Martin Van Buren—to support a bill funding a proposed expedition to explore trade routes in the Southern Hemisphere (where McBride hoped the expedition would continue on to the open pole). In 1828 President John Quincy Adams indicated that he would approve funding for the expedition. However, when Adams left office in 1829, his successor, Andrew Jackson, stifled a bill funding the proposed expedition.
Symmes died in 1829, but his cause was continued by Jeremiah Reynolds, an Ohio newspaper editor. After the failure to get government funding for the expedition in 1829, Reynolds joined a crew sailing to the South Seas to hunt seals, but seven years later, in 1836, he helped renew efforts for funding of a Southern Hemisphere expedition. Reynolds spoke before Congress, emphasizing the national glory that would accompany scientific discoveries and expanded foreign relations, but he became so impatient with the methodical planning and a series of delays that he was fired from the crew.
What became known as the Wilkes expedition, named after its commander, Charles Wilkes, set sail in 1838. When the expedition was completed in 1842, Wilkes and his men had effectively mapped a land mass where Symmes had envisioned a large hole in the earth. The world’s seventh continent, Antarctica, was officially recognized for the first time.
Edgar Allan Poe’s longest work of fiction, “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym” (1835), told of a land located in the center of our planet, entered by a hole at the South Pole. So convincingly did Poe weave his narrative that the great editor Horace Greeley soberly endorsed the Pym adventure as a true account.
In 1864 the novelist Jules Verne published Journey to the Center of the Earth, in which characters enter the earth’s interior through the chimney of an inactive volcano in Iceland. In 1873 The Coming Race, a novel by the occultist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, was set in the earth’s interior, where an advanced civilization of giants thrived.
In 1913, even after the North Pole had been reached, Marshall Gardner published A Journey to the Earth’s Interior; or, Have the Poles Really Been Discovered? which claimed that many creatures thought to be extinct were still thriving within the earth. Gardner theorized that the interior was warmed by materials still spinning since the planet’s creation. That same year, William Reed published The Phantom of the Poles, in which he promoted the idea that a ship can travel from the outer earth to the inner earth. He claimed that some sailors had already passed into the inner earth without knowing it. Gravity had pulled them to the interior side, where an inner sun six hundred miles in diameter continued to keep them warm, as the outer sun had done.
One of the more interesting variations on the Hollow Earth theory during the late nineteenth century was expounded by Cyrus Read Teed, who claimed that a civilization inhabited the planet’s concave inner surface. Teed made a religion of his theories and changed his name to Koresh, the Hebrew equivalent of his given name, Cyrus. As the messiah of Koreshanity, he formed a church, started a magazine (the Flaming Cross, which continued to be published regularly into the 1940s), and founded a community on a three-hundred-acre tract in Florida in 1894. He lived there with about 250 followers until 1908. Upon his death, his followers waited for him to rise again, as he had prophesied. After four days, health officials appeared on the scene and ordered his burial.
Hollow Earth enthusiasts continue to believe. Teed’s concave-earth theory, for example, was tested during World War II by a Nazi scientist. He aimed a camera at a 45-degree angle into the sky from an island in the Baltic Sea, hoping to catch an image of a British fleet on the other side of the concave earth. The experiment was unsuccessful.
Although this expedition set out at a time when the Third Reich was applying maximum effort in the drive against the Allies and could hardly spare any military resources, Hitler had enthusiastically endorsed the project. As a member of numerous occult societies, such as the Thule and the Vril, the führer believed that ancient masters had retreated to the inner earth and created a new Atlantis in subterranean caves. An important element in these occult societies was the belief that from time to time these supermen emerged from the underground kingdom to walk among humankind. Hitler’s frenzied desire to breed a master race in Germany was inspired by his obsessive hope that the people of the Third Reich would be chosen above all others to interact with the subterranean supermen in the mutation of a new species of heroes, demigods, and godmen.
In their Morning of the Magicians, authors Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier quote one of the führer’s confidants, Hermann Rauschning, governor of Danzig during the Third Reich, who repeated a conversation he once had with Hitler concerning the latter’s desperate plan to be worthy of uniting with the new human mutations that the masters were creating in their underground kingdom: “The new man is living amongst us now!” Hitler said, speaking in what Rauschning recalled as a kind of ecstasy. “He is here! Isn’t that enough for you? I will tell you a secret. I have seen the new man. He is intrepid and cruel. I was afraid of him.”
Rauschning went on to state that he was told by a person very close to Hitler that the führer often awoke in the night screaming and in convulsions. Always the frightened dictator would shout that he had come for him, that he stood there in the corner of the room, that he had emerged from his underworld kingdom to invade the führer’s bedroom.