[Gllug] Battlefield Earth

Nix nix at esperi.demon.co.uk
Tue Jun 26 23:41:50 UTC 2001

On Tue, 26 Jun 2001, Axel Segebrecht spake:
> Neil wrote:
> NL> I usually see anything that has lasers in it but the
> NL> reviews were just so bad that I stayed away. Naturaly
> NL> its association with the Scientologists wasnt exactly
> NL> a pull either..
> that's why i never read "critics" :) and i didn't know

Many of the critics in question were authors too. Dave Langford (fifteen
times Hugo award winner for the _Ansible_ fanzine, and a better writer
with his eyes closed than Hubbard could ever be) wrote a wonderful
article back in the eighties about the book itself; I'll have to see if
I can dig up a copy.

It *is* possible to be an author and a critic and a reader and a fan all
at once. (I am not numbered among that lucky fraternity, though; I've
never seriously tried the writing lark.)

Plus, after what the Scientologists did to the '87 Worldcon, nobody in
the SF field will give them the time of day anymore. The Scientologists
managed a really effective own goal with that one; see
<http://www.ansible.demon.co.uk/writing/hubbard.html>. Before that, many
fans were willing to give them the benefit of the doubt; not anymore.

(On that page, Langford describes _Battlefield Earth_ like this:

: In due course Battlefield Earth crashed through the letter box, and I
: made a point of reading every word -- expecting a fast-moving piece of
: trashy fun, along the lines of Hubbard's early stuff. I was deeply
: disappointed by the glacial pace, the windy vacuity, the bone-rattling
: clichés, the scientific codswallop, the self-congratulatory "this is
: real SF" introduction, etc. I said as much in a partly humorous,
: knockabout review: and again there were complaints that this was all a
: display of wicked anti-Scientological prejudice.
: Other negative reviews I've written have provoked people to tell me
: that I'm too "mainstream" to enjoy escapism, too fond of fun to
: appreciate total humourlessness, or too lowbrow to swing with
: post-structuralism. Only with Hubbard was my critical integrity at
: once challenged. (It could be cattily suggested that to some at least
: of his supporters, Hubbard's wonderfulness is such an article of faith
: that no other reaction is possible. [4][2] ) I developed what you
: might call a mild, informed prejudice: that Hubbard meant trouble.

The only book I've ever seen him pan worse than that was the appalling
_The Number of the Beast_, a book which it is best to forget is by
Heinlein lest it contaminate the memory of the good things he's

_Battlefield Earth_ is the only SF book I have ever burned. Normally, I
treat my books carefully; but _Battlefield Earth_ deserved something
special. (Apparently the _Mission Earth_ books are even worse...)

`This will immediately become a flamewar.' --- Mark Mitchell

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