Postcards from Lemuria

I spent last evening chasing down an odd reference that seems to have been infinitely propagated across the Web. I’m digging into the history surrounding Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1887, and everywhere I looked the phrase “The procession through London, according to Mark Twain, ‘stretched to the limit of sight in both directions'” kept cropping up, like a zombie.

There was one problem with this: I could find no source indicating Mark Twain was even at the Golden Jubilee, and I couldn’t find any attribution of the quote other than the “according to Mark Twain” bit.   It was even there on the Royal Family’s official website and it was making me nuts.

You see, it was a matter of life and death for Twain. I was doing research for a bit of fiction, and if he was really there it vitally mattered. So, I finally said the right incantations before the Altar of the Allmighty Google and the source of the quote was revealed to me: the line was a direct quote of Twain’s essay “Queen Victoria’s Jubilee”. Published in 1897. About Queen Victoria’s DIAMOND Jubilee. That’s Golden Jubilee plus ten years. Different event. Completely.

“According to Mark Twain, ‘stretched to the limit of sight in both directions'” stretched to the limit of sight in both directions on the Web. Go ahead and put “Twain” and “Golden Jubilee” into the Allmighty Google and count the number of times “according to Mark Twain, ‘stretched to the limit of sight in both directions'” pops up. All of them are wrong. It was a  cut&paste virus resulting in a massive Wikipocalypse.

So I fixed the most egregiously prominent Wikipedia entry and sent an email to the Royal Family’s web editors asking if they didn’t agree that the reference was misplaced (with chapter, verse and page number to Twain’s essay) because I’m guessing they were the source of the bogus factoid that had been haunting me for days. And what stenographer er, journalist isn’t going to trust the Royal Family on matters regarding Queen Vicky and her jubilees?

No word back from the Royals yet, but I did some serious dancing last night after I finally put a stake through the heart of that undead misapplied quote from Hell. I didn’t have to kill Mark Twain after all. At last I could rest.

Are you an undecided voter? Do you know one? Well, Samuel L. Jackson has a message for you!

Looks like M’Lord Willard of Romney is starting to beg, and the GOP is in total denial mode.



Enter the soulless Chinese mining companies, pretty much the same as the soulless American ones. Destroying ancient Buddhist sites in Afghanistan isn’t just a Taliban thing anymore.

Scientific American’s post-arctic weather report: sunny with a chance of extinctions.

The Vatican’s official newspaper gives Promethius two thumbs down despite Charlize Theron doing push-ups (that’s Oscar material, right Oscar?). Their boss wears dresses and funny hats… I mean, I’m just saying.

Have you heard the good news? Here’s a page-by-page examination of Jack Chick’s famous anti-D&D leaflet that resulted in the collapse of gaming as we know it. There’s a Chick-flick documentary on him too, for any fans in the audience. (Anyone remember which Chick title had the line “Hail Eris!” in it? Leave me a clue in the comments please,  I lost my collection!)

Nick Redfern dusted off the Shaver Mysteries over at Mysterious Universe, and I can see the visions again! I can remember those other-worldy visitors, their ancient tunnels beneath our surface world, their discarded Dero psychotic robot minions left behind to torment us with their psychotronic mind-control rays! Why, I remember it just like freshman year… no, wait, that was freshman year!

The Shaver Mysteries were the greatest stories ever told as far as pulp sci-fi went. As I heard it, the tale began one day in 1943 when Ray Palmer, editor of Astounding Magazine, was entreating his writing staff to come up with some stories that would boost their sales. At one point he reached into the trash-can and withdrew a crumpled letter, saying something along the lines of “You lazy bums, I’ll bet I could pull better ideas out of the trash!”.

As fate would have it, he held in his hand the Magic Letter from Richard Shaver that started it all. Shaver’s letter described how, while working in an auto plant, his welding machine  started telling him things:  strange, menacing, ASTOUNDING things! A few quick edits later and the Shaver Mysteries were launched.

The first “Shaver” issue tripled sales and Astounding  saw their reader mail load absolutely explode. Apparently Shaver’s yarn had unlocked a lot of repressed memories for the legions of unmedicated psychotics out there,  and boy how it relieved them that other people had electrical equipment whisper ancient secrets to them, too! Amazing was left scrambling for more paper amidst war-time rationing and had to make special arrangements just to deal with the daily truck-loads of letters from Those Who Remembered Lemuria Too. It was sort of like the effect Sarah Palin had on the McCain presidential campaign, except for the losing the election part.

For the next five years, Astounding mined that rich vein of crazium that started with Wiliam Shaver’s letter.  Palmer’s place in sci-fi history was assured, while Shaver spend his remaining years in obscurity, studying “rock books” in which he alone could read the secret pre-history of the Earth’s previous extraterrestrial inhabitants recorded in random stones. Astounding might have given him a free subscription, I don’t know. It would have been a nice gesture.

Shaver died in 1975 in Summit, Arkansas, but his name and legacy will live on, having been woven into the rich warp and woof of  ufology, crackpotology and our Modern World of High Weirdness.


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