} A Fan Tribute to Richard S. Shaver
A Tribute to Richard S. Shaver

Last updated 03/14/2019


Amazing Stories was founded in 1926 by Hugo "Payment Upon Lawsuit" Gernsback.  AMZ (as its fans called it) limped along over the years, going through several editors and publishers, until Ziff-Davis bought it in 1938.

Ray Palmer (a longtime science fiction fan) was installed as the editor.  Palmer managed to turn around a dying magazine, making it profitable for the first time in its existence. 

What was Palmer's secret?  Lurid, gaudy covers, with lurid, gaudy stories.  AMZ's stories had lots of action, lots of two dimensional characters, and lots of what can only be called a "what the hell" attitude: an exciting story was the point, and forget about all of that science stuff.

Palmer had an instinctive eye for stories that would appeal to his audience.  And one day an unknown named Richard S. Shaver wrote a letter to AMZ (published in the January 1944 issue), claiming he had discovered a proto-language he called Mantong.  He claimed this was the language used in Atlantis.  Mantong assigned individual meanings to individual letters of the English alphabet, and together those meanings could supply the true definitions of words.  The Mantong Alphabet went as follows:

A - is for Animal
B - is to Be
C - means See
D - is the harmful energy generated by the Sun
E - is Energy
F - means Fecund
G - means to Generate
H - means Human
I - means I
J - is the same as G - generate
K - means Kinetic, as in motion or energy
L - is Life
M - means Man
N - means child, as in 'ninny'
O - means Orifice, a source
P - is Power
Q - means Quest
R - horror; signifies a large amount of D present
S - means the Sun, which emits D
T - is the beneficial force, the opposite of D
U - means You
V - Vital; in Shaver's words, 'the stuff Mesmer calls animal magnetism.'
W - Will
X - Conflict, sometimes meaning D and T in opposition
Y - means Why
Z - means Zero, or when T and D cancel one another out.

So, for example, Science Fiction and Beer translates to:
Science: Sun, see, I, energy, child, see, energy.
Fiction: Fecund, I, see, beneficial force, I, orifice, child.
and: animal, child, harmful energy.
Beer: To be, energy, energy, horror.

One could argue why the Ancient Ones used English as their alphabet, but Shaver responded in essence that since all languages were equally deviated from the original proto-language, then English was as good a starting point as any.  So there!

Shaver later sent in more letters to AMZ, telling of his experiences.  Any other editor would have correctly dismissed those word salads as the work of a madman, but Palmer saw something that would resonate with his readers.  He rewrote Shaver's experiences, changing them to fiction, over the objections of Shaver, and published them.

According to Shaver, he was working as a welder in a war plant, when his welding torch started telling him about all of the things below.  He later discovered that it wasn't his torch that was doing the talking: the messages were being sent by telaug (telepathic augmenter).

I will only go over the grand scheme of the Shaver world in general.  Beneath the earth are these evil beings, the Deros, who were mutated by the sun's harmful rays, ad thus went underground, and into the caves.  They would kidnap people trough various methods, such as rigging up elevators that would go down to their evil realms.  Their machines were just as degenerate as they were, having also been harmed by the sun's radiation.  There is much more to the whole story than that: the good, untainted race, the Teros, the Titans, the Atlans, Lemuria, and on and on.  Shaver's welding torch must have been very talkative indeed!

I think even Palmer was surprised at the immediate reaction: numerous people wrote in, chiding him for presenting fact as fiction.  And some of them said they had similar experiences.  There were also naysayers, the usual dour faced fans of "serious" science fiction.

It was off to the races!  Before it died out, The Shaver Mystery (as the collection of stories was called) would fascinate some in the public to this day.

Eventually Ziff-Davis got tired of the complaints, and Ray Palmer quit the magazine.  The first thing new editor Harold Browne did was discard over 200,000 words worth of stories Palmer had bought.

Without Ray Palmer, AMZ became moribund.  Ziff-Davis switched it to a digest sized format in 1953, but that didn't help sales.  AMZ went through several editors and publishers, its circulation getting less and less over the years.

AMZ is still around, hanging out where all print publications go to die: the internet.

Ray Palmer moved on to found several other magazines.  His best known publication is Fate magazine, which is still published to this day.  Along the way, Palmer, along with pilot Ken Arnold (the pilot who inspired the term "flying saucer",) founded the pseudoscience of UFOlogy.

Richard S. Shaver kept on writing, and attempted to convince people about something he called "rokfogos," that is, rocks that appear to have images in them.  He assumed that the ancient ones had put the images in there.  People who had seen his rokfogos either didn't see what he saw, or just dismissed them as natural phenomena, like picture jasper.

Shaver was also a prolific painter, and his works are fine examples of what people call outsider art.  All of his paintings fall into the strange category, and many of them are of the images he thought he saw in his "rokfogos."

one of Shaver's rokfogo paintings
One of Shaver's rokfogo paintings.

How best to read these publications: Set yourself down on a good easy chair.  Have some music playing softly in the background.  If you have a fireplace, start a fire in it.  Grab a pack full of gas station cigars, some cheese, some crackers or Chex Mix, a glass, a bottle of brandy or elderbery wine, and get a cat on your lap.  Then settle back and start reading these magazines.  What better way can there be to spend your time?  Heck, I could do that every day for the rest of my life.

richard shaver
The Man Himself: Richard S, Shaver

"Life is a silly sound like a death rattle from an insane clown dying in the night."  --Richard S. Shaver

Selected Amazing Stories Appearances
(Click on the images and the files will open in a separate tab)


January 1944


1945 march
March 1945

june 1945
June 1945
1945 sept
September 1945
1945 dec
December 1945


feb 1946
February 1946
1946 may
May 1946

June 1946
July 1946
august 1946
August 1946
poor layout
Poor Layout
September 1946

oct 1946
October 1946
nov 1946
November 1946
dec 1946
December 1946


1947 jan
January 1947

jun 1947
June 1947


jan 1948
January 1948

1948 june
June 1948
September 1948

December 1948


nov 1949
November 1949

Other Selected Magazine Appearances


worlds of if
Worlds of If
other worlds
Other Worlds
hidden world
Hidden World