A UFO DIGEST BOOK REVIEW
The Best of the Hollow Earth Hassle
Giving Evil A Name
by Mary Jane Martin, Tim Swartz, and Timothy G Beckley
Reviewed by Sean Casteel
Posted: 14:36 October 22, 2008
Long before there was the Internet with which to propound alternate theories of reality, there was the small circulation newsletter. A labor of love for devotees of fringe and “out there” topics, some of these tiny “zines” developed a devoted following of readers eager to learn more about such topics as UFOs and occult subjects usually given short shrift by the mainstream print media.
One such publication was “The Hollow Hassle,” a subscription newsletter that focused on the famous “Shaver Mysteries” and other subterranean subject matters. For those unfamiliar with Richard Shaver, his story was to say the least an interesting one. He was working on an automobile assembly line one day in the late 1940s when he began to hear the disembodied voices of beings he would come to call the “dero,” underworld creatures he believed were responsible for all the wickedness man endures on the surface of the Earth. His “dero” were a demonic race, the kind of thing nightmares are made of, but were also physically real and not mere ethereal evil spirits.
When publisher Ray Palmer decided to publish some of Shaver’s writings in his fledgling magazine “Amazing Stories,” a new era in paranormal writing began. Shaver’s mysterious underground voices struck a nerve in readers and more than doubled the circulation for Palmer’s magazine. But by the 1960s, interest in Shaver had begun to fade, and it was left to believers like Mary J. Martin to take up the task of keeping the subject alive and relevant.
Martin started a newsletter called “The Hollow Hassle,” which ran for several years off and on, finally petering out completely in the mid-1980s. Martin’s newsletter featured the writings of well-known Hollow Earth believers like Charles A. Marcoux and his wife Lorene, “TAL” LeVesque, and Bruce Walton, who now goes by the name Branton. In the new book’s introduction, Martin said it would inevitably be a “hassle” to prove the group’s beliefs, thus the newsletter’s title.
Along with journalist Tim R. Swartz, Martin has recently compiled a “Best Of” collection of articles and essays from the newsletter that provides an excellent history of this grassroots newsletter approach to the mysteries Richard Shaver helped introduce to the world. Many of the writers here differ with Shaver in some respects. For example, George Wight and Charles Marcoux argue that the Hollow Earth is the real location of the Garden of Eden and that Adam and Eve were cast out of a paradise that still exists below our feet. The two men claim to have met creatures nine feet tall with gray skin who live in a Utopian world untouched by the dangerous rays of the sun.
The original pioneer, Richard Shaver himself, contributes a fascinating chapter in which he argues that UFOs really come from the Hollow Earth and not from outer space. Shaver puts forth the disconcerting notion that the scariest thing about UFOs is how the mainstream simply doesn’t believe in their existence. He argues that that disbelief is pre-intended by the aliens and compares it to the soporific a mosquito injects before it bites. The aliens, according to Shaver, use a device called a “TELAUG,” short for telepathic augmentive device, which permits the aliens to read and direct human thoughts. He blames the TELAUG for the Kennedy and King assassinations, and claims the device also prevents the UFOs from being exposed to human scrutiny and will lead eventually to a total mental enslavement of mankind at the hands of the subterranean fiends. The ships were originally built with human labor eons ago, but were forced to go underground after the Great Deluge. Again, Shaver despairs of ever being believed, and thus we are powerless to prevent whatever dark plans have been drawn against us.
“The Best of the Hollow Earth Hassle” also contains some of the original cover art published by Mary Martin, and the images of demons and bewitching she-devils and mythic monsters are eye-catching, as is a section of photographs of some of the main players in the newsletter’s history. A concluding section of letters to and from the editor helps to add a comforting personal angle to the extreme strangeness of the preceding material, though the stories the readers share demonstrate a good deal of bizarre contact with the unknown in their own right.
Interest in the Shaver Mysteries cuts across many demographic lines and draws a vast assortment of seekers into its weird vortex. Perhaps its appeal lies in the notion that our suffering must have a name, an enemy we can identify and struggle against. In those terms, Shaver’s dero is as reasonable a paradigm as any other for the evil we are forced to do battle with.
Whether there are monsters or angels down there (Shaver would later claim that there were both good and evil creatures pitched in eternal combat in the underworld, with the two races doing their utmost to influence life on the surface), the fact remains that a community of believers can band together to create a meaningful testimony to a moment in time and to a shared vision of a fleeting but still primal truth about ourselves and our place in the scheme of things, whether paranormal or utterly prosaic.
The struggle of mankind to overcome the lower demons of our nature and to celebrate what is good in us is what “The Hollow Hassle” is really ultimately about.
For more information or to purchase this book, click on the title: Best of the Hollow Earth Hassle