"The Shaver Mystery" - Richard Shaver and the Deros

Shaver At The May Day Parade

Richard Shaver is known as either a crackpot or a visionary (mainly a crackpot). Shaver first showed signs of his future ways as a teenager, when he was continually getting in trouble, stealing a skull from a graveyard and breaking up his local scout troop. His family moved to Detroit, and in 1929 he enrolled in the Wicker School of Art, where first he took up nude modeling, and then moved up the ladder hiring out other nude models. He apparently also spent some time as a communist agitator, after he joined the John Reed Club, and he was photographed by the Detroit Times exhorting the crowd at the 1930 May Day parade.

Shaver's chief legacy is the "Shaver Mystery", the main thread of which was published beginning in 1945 in the legendary science-fiction pulp magazine Amazing Stories by Raymond Palmer. The Mystery began in 1932 while Shaver was working at the Briggs Body plant in Highland Park, manning a massive welding gun. In the manic and exhausting conditions of the plant, Shaver claimed to have begun hearing the sounds of a secret torture session held in a cavern deep in the earth, broadcast through his welding gun. In a nutshell, Shaver claimed to be in psychic contact with an underground world, where a race of evil devolved dwarves called Dero plotted to kidnap, rape and eat humans.

Stories and Speculation

Oddly enough, given how the Mystery started, Detroit itself does not play much of a role in the mystique surrounding it. So what was Shaver hiding? Was he trying to avoid drawing attention to the fact that the salt mines under Detroit are Deros' closest point of contact with the surface world? Perhaps he stumbled across a top-secret wartime program to study the Deros that was using the auto plant as a cover?


Shaver's mythology extends far beyond what can be described here, but a good summary of it can be found FarShores.com, while the Hollow Earth Insider has a nice detailed biography of Shaver.