PENNY-A-WORD RELIGION

Want a better understanding of Scientology and its founder? Read Xenu’s Paradox: The Fiction of L. Ron Hubbard and the Making of Scientology.

A small but undeniable portion of [L. Ron Hubbard’s] work is worthwhile. Death’s Deputy and Final Blackout are fine short novels that deserve to be rediscovered. Fear is worth preserving for its historical significance, and his other stories from Unknown are entertaining, if inessential. Buckskin Brigades and To The Stars hold up for enthusiasts who are actively in search of deep cuts, and even Battlefield Earth can be sampled as a gigantic curiosity. It’s hard to recommend the rest, at least not until a reader has sought out the fiction of Asimov, Heinlein, Jack Williamson, Eric Frank Russell, A.E. van Vogt, Theodore Sturgeon, C.L. Moore, Henry Kuttner, and countless others. Life is short, and Mission Earth is so very long.

Hubbard’s real legacy, which is incontestable, lies in his status as a volcanic event in the lives of those around him, especially Campbell, and in the disruption that he caused with dianetics, which opened a fissure in the history of the genre that is visible even today. Yet it might not really matter. At a remote compound in Trementina, New Mexico, plans have been made to preserve his writings forever, in an underground vault designed to withstand a nuclear blast. Written on steel and encased in titanium capsules filled with argon gas, they might conceivably outlast most of the other works that our civilization has produced. Future generations may well read Hubbard, assuming that he is all that survives. But they might be the only ones who will.

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