Fiction

It just struck me that, before Hubbard launched Scientology, he had made a living for many years as a pulp fiction writer. Gee whiz. I wonder if that might have something to do with the religion he founded?

Duh. Obviously. But maybe it's worth a bit more thinking about the implications.

Writing fiction that sells is making postulates that stick. You decide what happens (in your story), and other people buy it — literally. It's especially OT if you're writing sci-fi, because then you're making up the whole dang world. And in a sense it becomes real. People pay for it the same way they pay to read the newspaper. When you write something, you get to be the 'big being' whose whim is Fate.

And if you sell your stuff, then somehow it becomes decisive that the stuff was written by you in particular. Your Aunt Betsie could write a Harry Potter story, but nobody would care: it wouldn't be what really happened to Harry. Only J.K. Rowling has the power to decide that, and everybody knows it. Hubbard was never in her league, of course, but he must have tasted some lower grade screw-cap version of the same heady wine.

In comparison with this basic fact, that all writers are "Source" for the stories they write, I think it's only a minor detail that Scientology's 'space opera' scenario could easily have been one of Hubbard's penny-a-word plots. Even if he had somehow been more creative than Xenu, it would still have been true, that in switching careers from pulp writer to cult leader, Hubbard never really switched at all. He just kept on making stuff up, writing it out, and selling it.
Typically components within works of fiction make it into cultural references within society which is not a problem.

Works of fiction being pawned off as fact such as religious texts, tend to make up people's beliefs systems which as we have been seen time and time again turn out to be damaging and have been seen to stifle human development, as in the case of the Dark Ages and modern day religious fundamentalist movements in the Middle East and the United States.
 
Last edited:

Student of Trinity

Silver Meritorious Patron
It just struck me that, before Hubbard launched Scientology, he had made a living for many years as a pulp fiction writer. Gee whiz. I wonder if that might have something to do with the religion he founded?

Duh. Obviously. But maybe it's worth a bit more thinking about the implications.

Writing fiction that sells is making postulates that stick. You decide what happens (in your story), and other people buy it — literally. It's especially OT if you're writing sci-fi, because then you're making up the whole dang world. And in a sense it becomes real. People pay for it the same way they pay to read the newspaper. When you write something, you get to be the 'big being' whose whim is Fate.

And if you sell your stuff, then somehow it becomes decisive that the stuff was written by you in particular. Your Aunt Betsie could write a Harry Potter story, but nobody would care: it wouldn't be what really happened to Harry. Only J.K. Rowling has the power to decide that, and everybody knows it. Hubbard was never in her league, of course, but he must have tasted some lower grade screw-cap version of the same heady wine.

In comparison with this basic fact, that all writers are "Source" for the stories they write, I think it's only a minor detail that Scientology's 'space opera' scenario could easily have been one of Hubbard's penny-a-word plots. Even if he had somehow been more creative than Xenu, it would still have been true, that in switching careers from pulp writer to cult leader, Hubbard never really switched at all. He just kept on making stuff up, writing it out, and selling it.
 

uniquemand

Unbeliever
There's a pretty big difference between writing something to entertain other people, and using the power they vest in you to dominate them, manipulate them, and in some cases, torture them.
 

Royal Prince Xenu

Trust the Psi Corps.
There's a pretty big difference between writing something to entertain other people, and using the power they vest in you to dominate them, manipulate them, and in some cases, torture them.

Even in a TV series where there is a team of writers, they are usually bound by a "Writers' Bible" and fen are very quick to notice a breakage of canon. A modern example is "Dr Who". The first few episodes broke so much canon established by the "classic" series, that its old fan base has deserted it in droves.

It seems that even in fiction, squirrelling is "not OK".
 
In comparison with this basic fact, that all writers are "Source" for the stories they write, I think it's only a minor detail that Scientology's 'space opera' scenario could easily have been one of Hubbard's penny-a-word plots. Even if he had somehow been more creative than Xenu, it would still have been true, that in switching careers from pulp writer to cult leader, Hubbard never really switched at all. He just kept on making stuff up, writing it out, and selling it.

True. Many of us think that such may have a great deal to do with the narrative part of ot iii. Putting it "mildly" it is not "universally accepted" among scientologists.

However, ultimately such thinking doesn't really "prove/disprove" anything as you are still left with the "chicken/egg" conundrum of which came first: the "incident", or the penny-dreadful?

Arguably, not the first work of "fiction" that might well have been (un)consciously inspired by a "real" event. :whistling:


Mark A. Baker :)
 

Meccaanon

Patron
There is a very fine line between fiction writing and the kind of ego-trip Hubbard went on when he created Scientology. All fiction is about world creation, Science Fiction and fantasy are more so. Hubbard at some point (IMO) set out to do what many other writers have done by accident.

David Gerrold for example has complained that people went off the deep-end from some of the philosophical content in his Chtorr novels. There are people who actively follow the Martian religion described by Robert A Heinlein in "Stranger in a Strange Land." More recently, Ann McCaffrey has a huge fan-base which kind of goes nuts about her Dragonrider series. To the point of creating organised cos-play groups which are licensed and approved from the "source,' which would be Ann McCaffery herself. Whitley Strieber also comes to mind, in fact he's been criticized for betraying his fiction writing and creating an almost religious following by claiming what he writes is *not* fiction.

I think Hubbard took this to another level, he very much liked the adoration of his fans and recognized a yearning in many of them to know more about themselves. What better way than to claim that he understood the fundamental workings of the mind? To this end he started with the statement, "I know how and why the mind and spirit operates," then he worked backwards in true Science Fiction writing tradition and worked out the story of Dianetics and later, Scientology.
 
Hubbard's fiction sucked. Even for pulp era SF

Zinj

"Ol' Doc Methuselah" was a cute group of stories and some people claim his novel "Fear", which I've never read, is good. But on the whole I'm sympathetic to your view if not exactly in sync with it.


Mark A. Baker
 
"Ol' Doc Methuselah" was a cute group of stories and some people claim his novel "Fear", which I've never read, is good. But on the whole I'm sympathetic to your view if not exactly in sync with it.


Mark A. Baker

I was told "Fear" and "Final Blackout" were good, so I downloaded them in audio format from links I found on WWP to experience what some consider to be quality work of Hubbard's. Fear was okay, but not something I'd need to bother ever listening to again, "Final Blackout" was pure shit, I couldn't even finish it. I won't bother going into it since this review pretty much sums it up

http://forums.whyweprotest.net/123-...n-final-blackout-audiobook-69494/#post1289175
 

Meccaanon

Patron
Hubbard's fiction sucked. Even for pulp era SF

Zinj

Not so fast -

Some of it certainly did. Hubbard was considered a second tier writer of the golden age of American Science Fiction. This was no mean accomplishment. He was a successful writer in every sense of the word. His later stuff, Battlefield Earth and Mission Earth *were awful.* but that does not represent his early stuff. He wrote a fair shtick in his day. If he had not created Scientology he'd probably be fondly remembered.
 

Zinjifar

Silver Meritorious Sponsor
I didn't say he wasn't a successful writer. He managed to stay alive, but, his contemporaries were beyond anything he could have hoped for. Vance, Heinlein, Van Vogt, you name it. Any of their works can still be read today. And, they were often dealing with the themes that Ron later turned into his 'religion'.

There were some of the era that I enjoyed and then grew out of, like Doc Smith or Murray Leinster, but, I respected them. Ron's drivel was passable for the time, but, drivel.

Zinj
 

Zinjifar

Silver Meritorious Sponsor
As an example of what Hubbard *couldn't* write; try Jack Vance's 'Nopalgarth', a theme that Ron blatantly stole from that was written around the same period.

It's got all the genre flaws but is still a great story. Or, Poul Anderson's 'Brainwave'. Even Van Vogt's 'Slan' whips Ron's butt with OT Powerz.

That Ron wrote Mission Earth and Battlefield Earth is merely the revelation of what a blind fool he was.

Zinj
 

Student of Trinity

Silver Meritorious Patron
Jack Vance is a giant, and "Nopalgarth" (also published as "The Brains of Earth") is typically mindboggling. Vance will never be a Shakespeare, but I predict he'll be an esoteric favorite far into the future.

Hubbard did have some status as a writer, all right. For instance, everything I've ever read by him — which is a fair amount though a tiny fraction of the total — has been perfectly grammatical. That's not a negligible achievement. It lifts him above most journalists, for instance — though to be fair, journalists do write for much shorter deadlines.

And he seems to have a moderate gift for phrasing. He never seems to pull off any of those startling wordplays that make you suspect the author of having stacked the deck when English was dealt. He certainly didn't have genius; but he had some knack. "If you were looking for Hell and found Earth, it would certainly serve." That's a silly thought, because it's obvious things here could be a Hell of a lot worse than they are; but it's a good sentence.

He could write sentences. But L. Ron Hubbard doesn't really seem to have been all that talented creatively. Compared to Vance almost everyone is unimaginative, but Hubbard seems to have been well back in the pack when it came to dreaming stuff up. The 'Golden Age' pulps weren't particularly demanding in this respect; you could make a living with pretty formulaic stuff, as long as you could keep cranking it out. I guess Hubbard did.

I wonder, though. He does seem to have been fairly smart, in general. Maybe he realized what he was missing, at least to some extent. Maybe all his obsessive ambition, to smash his name into history and prove himself a master of every trade, stemmed from a sense that he was fundamentally inadequate at the only trade for which he had any significant talent at all.

Maybe he was driven to sell his stuff, and to sell it further than ever by getting people to pay over their whole lives for it in his personal cult, precisely because he needed to compensate for the fact that as a writer-Source he didn't really have it, and he knew it.
 

Meccaanon

Patron
As an example of what Hubbard *couldn't* write; try Jack Vance's 'Nopalgarth', a theme that Ron blatantly stole from that was written around the same period.

It's got all the genre flaws but is still a great story. Or, Poul Anderson's 'Brainwave'. Even Van Vogt's 'Slan' whips Ron's butt with OT Powerz.

That Ron wrote Mission Earth and Battlefield Earth is merely the revelation of what a blind fool he was.

Zinj

Mission Earth and Battlefield Earth are two good examples of what an author should *never* do. Surround themselves with sycophantic "fans" and allow them to critique their work. Any editor would have given that junk a cursory glance and sent back a nice rejection letter. I think the only reason St. Martin's Press published the first edition of BE was that they go their arms twisted by Scientology, it would be interesting if someone had the story behind that. I find it difficult to believe that Hubbard could have gotten that published in any reputable house, even in the 1980s!
 

Freeminds

Bitter defrocked apostate
In Hubbard's sci-fi, the dialogue is bizarre. It's somehow crude, with really in-your-face exposition and very simplistic motivation for every character - as if they were all cogs in a machine, or soldiers.

It's in his coverage of female characters that Hubbard's fiction really falls down... but maybe it was a different era, and the pulp readership demanded nothing too taxing! Basically, Hubbard churned out formulaic pap and if he had any notable quality as a writer, it was his ability to bang out text and not get too careful about going back and checking it over. He'd have been perfect for NanoWriMo; no re-reading and editing for Ron.

I imagine his ability to do this made him popular with editors, as he could always give you something at short notice, in whatever genre. In fact, I suspect that after a time, they stopped proof-reading his contributions at all. It was known that he could grind out something adequate in terms of story, with good English, and he'd work for peanuts. It's all utter dross, but it's not like you have to read it to secure your 'salvation' or anything.
 
Top