Amazing Stories was full of, well, amazing stories, but Richard Sharpe Shaver insisted that his were true. Between 1943 and 1948, Shaver and editor/publisher Ray Palmer told of cavern cities filled with evil robots that kidnapped and tortured unwary humans. Shaver insisted he had been a prisoner for several years.
Strangely, the first story brought a flood of excited letters corroborating Shaver’s tale. One woman claimed she had been abducted from a Paris subbasement and raped and tortured before good robots freed her. “Shaver Mystery Club” chapters began to spring up, and Amazing gained about 50,000 subscribers.
The stories petered out as the sensation ran its course, though the clubs persisted into the late 1950s. By the 1970s, Shaver was insisting that certain rocks were “books” created by ancient Atlanteans. Today it seems he was not a misunderstood visionary but a troubled schizophrenic with a compelling imagination.