When he wasn’t making bets with Robert Heinlein about whether he could start a religion, L. Ron Hubbard had another job: writing crappy science fiction.
Admittedly, there was a lot of crappy science fiction back in the golden age of science fiction. Not everybody can be an Asimov. But as far as I can tell, Scientologists are the only ones who find literary worth in Hubbard’s books, and I suspect it’s because they feel obligated to because…. well, he started their religion. Everyone else either avoids or hates his books, one of which actually had a man raping two dog-fucking lesbians straight.
And Battlefield Earth is one of those books. In fact, I’d say it was his magnum opus.
Granted, most people probably know it best from the notorious movie starring John Travolta.
Yep. It’s the “While you were still learning to SPELL YOUR NAME” movie. This… is the book that inspired it. And I kid you not, the book actually makes the movie look GOOD. Hoo boy.
I think one of the most unforgivable things about this book is when it was published. When you’re reading it, you might be tempted to shrug and say, “Well, it was the fifties. They didn’t even have Star Trek yet. They had lots of shitty, silly sci-fi back then, so maybe I should give Hubbard a break.
This book was actually published in 1982. This came years after Star Trek, Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Alien, etc. This came out in the same year as fondly remembered books by authors like Isaac Asimov (Foundation’s Edge), Arthur C. Clarke (2010), Douglas Adams (Life, The Universe And Everything), Michael Moorcock (A Nomad of the Time Streams), Alan Dean Foster (Nor Crystal Tears), Roger Zelazny (Eye of Cat), Robert Heinlein (Friday), Stephen King (The Gunslinger), Gene Wolfe (Sword of the Lictor) and Philip K. Dick (The Valis Trilogy).
In other words, great and thought-provoking classics of science fiction were being written, as well as fun light stuff. Science fiction had branched out exponentially from the rayguns and BEMs stuff of the fifties… and yet Hubbard was still writing this shallow male-power-fantasy crap as if nothing had changed.
This is gonna hurt.