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On the Show — Dean Bertram

Gene Steinberg

Forum Super Hero
Staff member
Dean Bertram.jpgDean Bertram presents "The Man Who Invented Flying Saucers," how a disabled science fiction mega-fan became editor of America's leading science fiction “pulp” magazine and created modern UFO belief. In 1917, a boy is hit by a truck on a Milwaukee street. The hideous accident leaves the young Raymond A. Palmer hunchbacked and unable to grow much taller than 4 feet in height. He retreats into his imagination, and becomes a key figure in the growing science fiction fandom of the period. In 1938, and now in his late twenties, Palmer becomes editor of America's leading science fiction “pulp” magazine: Amazing Stories.

Palmer grows the magazine to all time circulation highs with a heady combination of hi-octane space operas and pseudo-scientific theories, culminating in something known as the “Shaver Mystery,” a series of tales by Richard S. Shaver (some ghost-written by Palmer). Shaver, a possibly schizophrenic welder, claims his stories are based on real-life contact with a technologically advanced subterranean civilization, and space faring extraterrestrials, that abduct human beings from the earth's surface.

Science fiction purists are mortified, but letters from other readers flood the offices of Amazing Stories: Attesting to other encounters with the evil underground aliens that Palmer and Shaver described.

palmer.pngAs the Shaver Mystery reaches its zenith, in June of 1947, something uncanny happens. Pilot Kenneth Arnold reports the first “flying saucers” seen in American skies. His account explodes across the news services of the day. To Palmer (left — credit: Rick Hilberg) and Shaver, these unidentified aerial craft are proof of the incredible technology and alien creatures chronicled in the Shaver Mystery stories. Soon thereafter, Palmer hires Kenneth Arnold, with whom he co-writes a series of articles, and one of the first books, on the topic: "The Coming of the Saucers." These writings include a proto-Roswell UFO crash, Men in Black, murderous conspiracies, abductions, and missing time. In other words, the blueprint for modern UFO lore.

Over 70 years later, in a strange twist of fate, Australian expatriate and UFO historian Dean Bertram PhD finds himself living in central Wisconsin: In a neighboring county to the one the late Raymond A. Palmer called home, and just a short, back-road, commute to the rural property where Palmer ran his UFO publishing imprint.

Bertram visits the town of Amherst... chats with the locals... talks to Ufologists and others in the paranormal field... and asks the question: “Does anyone remember the man who invented flying saucers?”

Bertram has a PhD in history from the University of Sydney, Australia. His doctoral dissertation was titled “Flying Saucer Culture: An Historical Survey of American UFO Belief.” His writings have featured in a range of publications, including Fortean Times, People Magazine, The Spectator, and The Australian. He hosts the podcasts Talking Weird and Mysterious Library on the Untold Radio Network. He is also a filmmaker and film festival programmer. He runs MidWest WeirdFest, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and is currently shooting a feature documentary about Raymond A. Palmer, the Shaver Mystery, and the birth of modern UFO belief, titled “The Man Who Invented Flying Saucers."

And, as regular listeners to The Paracast know, host Gene Steinberg was friends with Shaver, once met and interviewed Palmer, and arranged for Palmer to appear on several radio interviews.

Our cohost: Tim Swartz.

Recording Date (including After The Paracast):
Thursday, June 29 at 2:00 PM Pacific (5:00 PM Eastern)
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Broadcast and Streaming Date:
July 2, 2023