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"Is L. Ron Hubbard worth reading?" Topic

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Tom Bryant25 Nov 2012 11:50 p.m. PST

Ok, I have to ask this one because I'd like to get an answer to the above question. I cannot for the life of me seem to find any of Hubbard's books in any of the local used bookstores. Now admittedly Muskegon is something of an intellectual desert but I would expect to run across a few of his older sci-fi works now and then in the local used book stores.

Aside from "Dianetics" and "Scientology" (I know not sci-fi,, but still it is Hubbard) and of course the ubiquitous copes of "Battlefield Earth" and some copies of various volume of his "Mission:Earth Decology" I can't seem to find any of his stuff. Is he worth reading at all?

Mako11 Inactive Member26 Nov 2012 12:51 a.m. PST

Tom Cruise seems to be a big fan.

Haven't read any of his stuff myself, so can't provide any more input than that.

Charles Marlow Inactive Member26 Nov 2012 12:58 a.m. PST

Creepy Scientology aside, I read the first three volumes of His Mission Earth Dekalogy. It was years ago… my impression was that it was decent sf: well-written, interesting and quite numerous, though, I was much younger then…

Grey Ronin Inactive Member26 Nov 2012 2:34 a.m. PST

His really early stuff was good pulp reading; Death's Deputy and Final Blackout. Doubt you will find them in print though?

yoakley26 Nov 2012 2:35 a.m. PST

I really enjoyed Battlefield Earth, though it fizzles out with raging against Govt authorties as I recall.
Mission Earth was a jolly read, though it was obvious that someone else wrote the final 2 volumes.

Baggy Sausage Inactive Member26 Nov 2012 3:12 a.m. PST

Lack of Hubbard literature does not an intellectual desert make.

I read Battlefield Earth. It was over 1,000 pages of my life I want back. I kept saying to myself "It has to get good sometime." Not! It was total crap in my opinion.

Personal logo x42brown Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2012 4:30 a.m. PST

I know that I've read a good bit of his stuff but nothing has stuck in my memory. That alown say it must be mediocre as the good and bad are remembered.


The Gray Ghost Inactive Member26 Nov 2012 5:24 a.m. PST

I started one of his books once but couldn't finish it

McWong7326 Nov 2012 5:35 a.m. PST

Battlefield Earth is readable, but the whole scientology thing weirds it out.

Klebert L Hall Inactive Member26 Nov 2012 6:03 a.m. PST

He's one of the worst Golden Age authors IMO.

Henrix26 Nov 2012 6:03 a.m. PST

I've only read a few short stories, and, well, honestly, if I came across another in an anthology I'd probably skip them.

Some SF is worth reprinting, other is not.

Chef Lackey Rich Fezian Inactive Member26 Nov 2012 6:09 a.m. PST

He's not very good, especially his longer works. Some of his early short fiction from the actual magazines is okay (quite probably due to editorial controls) but it's quite hard to find, and often written under pseudonyms. There were some issues of Astounding on Project Gutenberg last I looked, which might be a good place to start. If nothing else you can read some of his contemporaries and see why Leinster and Smith and Williamson (to name just a few) are better than Hubbard.

dick garrison26 Nov 2012 6:27 a.m. PST

Battlefield Earth is the longest book I've ever read (I know it's a thick book but it felt like 50 times what it was).

Never read any others, never will!


Dn Jackson26 Nov 2012 6:33 a.m. PST

I thought Battlefield Earth was terrible. There's a forward in the copy I have where he states how awesome Sci-fi writers are because they have to follow science while fantasy authors suck because they can say, 'it's magic' to explain things. He then makes some very serious factual errors in his book ,(the heroes faind a stash of thompson submachines guns that were destined for the USAF Academy in the 1960s, they replace the primers in the rounds with blasting caps…).

BigNickR26 Nov 2012 6:59 a.m. PST

When I was 12 or 13, L.Ron Hubbard's "Battlefield Earth" was a decent enough read. Nothing special, but nothing terrible. Taken without any of the baggage I later found out about that soured me to the man and the legacy, I can even say I enjoyed it well enough at the time.

But the problem is that I live less than 2 hours from Clearwater Florida, and without going into "blue fez" territory… Lets just say that I can't get past the other things to make an emotionally detached review of his literature.

NoBodyLovesMe Inactive Member26 Nov 2012 7:10 a.m. PST

I pretty much had the same experience as BigNickR above having read them when I was much younger and basically read everything I could.

If I was recommending scifi to someone then Hubbard would not make the list as there are much better authors around.

So, no, don't waste your time imo.

thosmoss26 Nov 2012 7:31 a.m. PST

"Battlefield Earth" was the first book ever that I tossed aside midway through because I couldn't stand to read any more. Changed my whole perspective on reading, and on life.

SBminisguy26 Nov 2012 8:00 a.m. PST

Battlefield Earth -- pure dreck! I struggled to finish it, even though the whole dang thing made no sense fro top to bottom. IIRC (and forgive me if I've tried to forget this), Hubbard spun off of von Daniken's "Chariots of the Gods" and has nine-foot tall hairy barbarian aliens from another dimension come to Earth, enslave everyone and make them mine gold…eh?? They can cross interstellar/interdimensional space but can't mine a nickel-iron asteroid -- which, when Hubbard write BE in like 1980, we knew would contain gold, platinum, and other metals far more easy to get with advanced tech than placer or strip mining on Earth…or can't travel to a "gold" dimension with their dimension hopping tech to get all the gold they want?? Bad book, worse movie!

Lucius26 Nov 2012 8:04 a.m. PST

I was 18 when I read "Battlefield Earth". I really liked it.

I also thought that "Top Gun" was the best movie ever made.

Thankfully, my tastes have changed since then.

Ghostrunner26 Nov 2012 8:09 a.m. PST

Battlefield Earth MIGHT have succeeded if it had embraced itself as a spoof.

Instead, it was clear that L. Ron thought he was writing the War and Peace of the sci-fi age. I also have the nagging feeling that he thought he WAS Johnny 'Goodboy' Tyler the hero that could do absolutely nothing wrong.

Seriously, the guy does not make a single mistake or misstep in the entire 25,000 page (estimated) book.

Also, it turns out that even the bad guys of the book are not the real bad guys it was those evil plotting psychiatrists that founded the evil empire (oh, sorry should that have been a spoiler warning?)

Personal logo elsyrsyn Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2012 8:16 a.m. PST

Pretty much what BigNickR said – I vaguely remember enjoying Battlefield Earth, but I apparently did not enjoy it enough to bother reading anything else of Hubbard's.


oldhans11726 Nov 2012 8:35 a.m. PST

You also need to remember that a lot of "Hubbard books" are ghostwritten, he was supposedly writing books decades after he had died.

GypsyComet26 Nov 2012 8:37 a.m. PST

Before I was aware of the context, I tried reading Battlefield Earth back when I was working my way through the local Library's SF shelves. Very few books that I checked out during that run went back to the Library unfinished, as I was a voracious reader in my teens and twenties. Battlefield Earth was one of them. Within a few pages I knew the book was a mess. When news of his death in 1986 was followed by the publication of the ten-volume "masterwork" I investigated that and found it even worse.

Stay away.

Patrick Sexton Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2012 8:38 a.m. PST

I read BE and found it to be terrible. Nut punch terrible.

Ratbone Inactive Member26 Nov 2012 8:40 a.m. PST

I enjoyed the Mission: Earth decalogy, but I don't think I finished the set. It was fun enough, but it got tedious after four or six books.

SheriffLee Inactive Member26 Nov 2012 8:46 a.m. PST


ancientsgamer Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2012 9:51 a.m. PST

Well, I read the whole Battlefield Earth book. The book was better than the movie by far. The problem is that the movie was one of the worst I have seen in the genre. But I shouldn't be too harsh. After all, Hubbard came from a different generation and I shouldn't expect the same polished story that I have seen from the likes of Frank Herbert, etc.

Battlefield Earth is okay. It is interesting. It wouldn't be anywhere near my recommended list of readings though. There is so much better out there.

I find the 40K universe to be much more interesting and better written. For me, the Dune saga is one of the best reads out there. And yes, I like the fluff that his son and co-author have put out there. It isn't as well written as the old man's but at least you get to read where he would have gone had he remained alive. If you haven't read the Dune stuff, I would recommend starting with the pre-Dune saga written by his son before reading Dune and beyond by Frank Herbert. This way, the writing only gets better and it would be interesting to follow the timeline forward rather than reading prequel stuff last ;-)

Looking at the books that I have actually held onto for years, I notice that I don't have as many sci fi books as I thought. The Dune stuff is still there though :-)

Personal logo javelin98 Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2012 10:15 a.m. PST


Pijlie Inactive Member26 Nov 2012 10:21 a.m. PST

Well, no.

Moonbeast Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2012 10:28 a.m. PST

I liked Final Blackout, that's it though.

Chef Lackey Rich Fezian Inactive Member26 Nov 2012 10:28 a.m. PST

Instead, it was clear that L. Ron thought he was writing the War and Peace of the sci-fi age. I also have the nagging feeling that he thought he WAS Johnny 'Goodboy' Tyler the hero that could do absolutely nothing wrong.

The "superman" meme is fairly widespread in early scifi, and frankly I rather like it when it's done well, but Hubbard was lousy at selling it. Authors like Heinlein and EE Smith wrote their heros just as over-the-top, but they manage to do a better job of keeping you so interested in the story that you don't stop to analyze what's going on too closely – always a good idea to suspend that disbelief when reading period pulp. The closest modern take on the trope is probably Honor Harrington – she's way more angsty at times and pays the butcher's bill for her victories, but at the heart of it all she's cast in the same mold as Kimball Kinnison and friends. Laumer's Retief is the superman done with the perfect leavening of self-aware irony.

CPBelt26 Nov 2012 10:36 a.m. PST

Life and time is too precious to waste on Hubbard.

infojunky26 Nov 2012 10:42 a.m. PST

Earlier stuff maybe, later stuff NO! Just No. And don't buy it new, if you must.

Lion in the Stars26 Nov 2012 11:15 a.m. PST

I got stuck on a bus from San Diego to Pullman Washington. I bought Battlefield Earth to read on the ~3-day trip.

I didn't finish the book.

I would rather read the entire Dune sextet in one sitting again than read another Hubbard book.

Frank Herbert is much more enjoyable, even his nasty books like White Plague or Under Pressure.

Sundance Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2012 11:39 a.m. PST

Only if you're a Scientologist.

Cherno26 Nov 2012 11:54 a.m. PST

Scrap the reading, just watch this Nostalgia Critic "review" and decide! :D


SBminisguy26 Nov 2012 12:46 p.m. PST

@Cherno -- Brilliant!! ROFLMAO!!

NoBodyLovesMe Inactive Member26 Nov 2012 1:40 p.m. PST

Thanks for the link, hilarious :)

nazrat26 Nov 2012 3:47 p.m. PST

"I read BE and found it to be terrible. Nut punch terrible."

Greatest. Review. EVER!! 8)=

Edwulf26 Nov 2012 3:58 p.m. PST

Only read one book.
Battlefield Earth.

Bleeped texte.

brucka26 Nov 2012 5:51 p.m. PST

Read everything, including sci-fi in the early eigthies. Had Asimov's magazine delivered to my door. Have managed to finish every (horrible) book I have ever started…except two… Battlefield Earth and Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.
[I do not count Tolkien's the Silmarillon or even Leviticus in that list as did not want to even start those 'beget and begat books'].
Horrible books that only worsen with time.

Tom Bryant27 Nov 2012 1:09 a.m. PST

Thanks for all the input so far guys. Please keep it coming. This is fun! Another question: aside from the Mission Earth series and Battlefield Earth, how plentiful is his stuff? I can't recall seeing that much of it around here. That doesn't mean that, say in San Fransisco or New York there isn't a plentiful bounty of Hubbard's older sci-fi anthologies available. It had been my belief has always been that the Hubbardites (LRons, Scientologists, whatever) had bought up all of his works in hopes of gathering some deeper "meaning" to his Scientology work.

BTW, I agree with you ancientsgamer. I finished reading Dune Last fall and am committed to reading ALL of it, both Frank's and Brian's works about Arrakis. Good stuff!

AndrewGPaul Inactive Member27 Nov 2012 3:36 a.m. PST

After all, Hubbard came from a different generation and I shouldn't expect the same polished story that I have seen from the likes of Frank Herbert, etc.

Dune, published 1965. Battlefield Earth, published 1982. Even if we accept the dubious premise that the 1960s were an ancient time where people hadn't mastered the craft of novel-writing grin, that doesn't hold up here.

Chef Lackey Rich Fezian Inactive Member27 Nov 2012 7:12 a.m. PST

No kidding. If anything, the art of writing has declined over the years editorial control has become very lax as the realities of publishing costs encourage larger and larger books. Very few modern authors know how to write a good novel in under 200 pages any more, and today's editors don't know how to force them to do so. Sprawling into 800-1000 pages is a sure way to lose the point of your plot, and many authors still need multiple books that size to wrap things up. More is not better with most writers, no matter what the industry thinks.

The brightest spot in the shift to e-readers is that there's no longer an economic reason a nice, tight 150 page novel can't sell profitably.

Valator Inactive Member27 Nov 2012 8:22 a.m. PST

You can shoot a hardcover Battlefield Earth and the bullet won't go all the way through.

goragrad27 Nov 2012 12:17 p.m. PST

Actually might have two of his early works – Ole Doc Methuselah and Masters of Sleep. Think there might be some of his stories in some of the old Analogs and F&SF mags that I have.

Had to hit a listing of his works to remember. Would probably have read more of his earlier works if they had been more readily available when I was in my 'read nearly anything SF, fantasy, western, historical, etc.' phase.

Passed on all of that later production – had developed a little more discrimination by then.

Zephyr127 Nov 2012 3:34 p.m. PST

If your library doesn't have a book you want, ask if they can order it from another library.

brucka27 Nov 2012 5:19 p.m. PST

Yes but the toxic waste bag it's delivered in will probably scare staff off.

Wolfprophet Inactive Member27 Nov 2012 9:13 p.m. PST

I started reading one of his books, don't recall which one now….maybe it was because I read Heinlein, Herbert, Abnett and Travis before I read Hubbard…but I made it 43 pages in and then put it in the fire pit with the yard brush because that was easier than donating it back to the goodwill where I bought it for 50 cents.

Tom Bryant28 Nov 2012 11:05 a.m. PST

Ouch! That's harsh Wolfprophet.

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