Battlefield Plymouth – Why L Ron Hubbard’s Newly Republished Fiction Is Not Going to Make an Impact in the UK

Battlefield EarthBookIn 1982, a work of fiction by L Ron Hubbard called “Battlefield Earth” was published. It was a long rambling story in which a hero inspires humanity to rise up and expel an alien occupation.

Recently a new edition was released by “Galaxy Press,” a publishing house that is wholly owned by the Church of Scientology. They also produced a long ‘dramatised’ audio book, based on the story, featuring a small cast of voice actors.

The promotional campaign has now made its way to the Scientology Org in Plymouth, in the UK. Both the book and its audio version are on display to staff there.

Strangely, these products are presented so that the covers can only be seen by the people inside. They have their backs turned to the window display and the buying public. (images below).

Subsequently, I went to all of the bookshops in the nearby shopping centre. Not a single copy of “Battlefield Earth” was on sale in any of them, and assistants had never heard of it. In fact, no Plymouth bookshop stocks it.

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The Long Wait for Evidence Supporting Hubbard’s Claims for Dianetics – Dianetics and Scientology in “Astounding Science Fiction” (pt 19)

campbelll waitIn the letters page of the March 1951 issue of “Astounding” John W Campbell, the magazine’s editor, makes it clear that he was waiting for L Ron Hubbard to deliver on his  promise to provide supporting evidence for dianetics.

This promise had been reported in the New York Times for September 1950.  Hubbard, under pressure from the American Psychological Association,  had stated that he would publish case studies which provided objective evidence – and that they would ‘prove’ all of  the claims he had made on behalf of dianetics.

Of course, this ‘evidence’ simply didn’t exist ,and what was eventually produced was inadequate. Hubbard also privately told Campbell that he would  publish “[…] a book of ‘case studies” in order to persuade him to extend his support just a little longer.  If so, it didn’t work.

After March 1951, the next six issues of “Astounding” contained no significant editorial reference to dianetics or Hubbard. Campbell was calling Hubbard’s bluff. These six issues (April to September inclusive) are included in this post, so that they can be contrasted with their predecessors, which so enthusiastically promoted dianetics. Continue reading

L Ron Hubbard’s Bluff is (Finally) Called – Dianetics and Scientology in “Astounding Science Fiction” (pt 18)

ASF_0244March 1951 Download as .pdf

John W Campbell, the editor of “Astounding” had staked his reputation (and that of the magazine he edited) on the truth of dianetics. He was now becoming impatient for vindication.  He hoped this would be provided in the form of ‘case studies’ from L Ron Hubbard which would ‘prove’ the effectiveness of ‘dianetic therapy’.

He had good reason to do so. On September the 9th 1950, the American Psychological Association had issued a statement strongly advising members not to use dianetics in their practice because there was no evidence it was of benefit. This forced Hubbard’s hand. He responded with a statement promising to release the evidence which would he asserted would prove his case.

Campbell reacted cautiously to Hubbard’s statement. He seems to have resolved not to publish any more pro-dianetics articles dianetics until Hubbard made good on his promise.

We can see this situation develop in the pages of the March 1951 issue of “Astounding Science Fiction”.

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‘Ole Doc Hubbard, Soldier of Light: A Power Fantasy Realised – Dianetics and Scientology in “Astounding Science Fiction” (Pt 17)

ASF_0243“Astounding Science Fiction” February 1951 Download as .pdf
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Over a year after its editor, John W Campbell, began promoting dianetics (in the December 1949 issue)  L Ron Hubbard’s free ride in “Astounding” had drawn to a close.

Readers had been complaining that the coverage of dianetics had replaced too many of the stories which they bought the magazine for. Also, popular contributors (e.g. L Ron Hubbard and A E Van Vogt) had abandoned fiction writing to head the new ‘Dianetics Institutes’.

To maintain his circulation, Campbell had to start publishing more quality stories and recruit the new authors who could be relied upon to write them.

In the November and December 1950 issues Campbell, had explicitly promising more SF. He also (symbolically) changed the subscriptions advertisement from one (which had boasted about being the magazine which first introduced dianetics to the world) to a more conventional version (which boasted of the  quality and variety of its science fiction instead).

The new ‘Dianetics Institutes’ now had to pay their way by advertising, like everyone else. There would be no more articles about dianetics.

Campbell was likely also beginning to have doubts about Hubbard’s claims for Dianetics, and beginning to distance himself from the fad that he played a major part in creating. This theory is supported by the terse rely he gave to a reader’s letter inquiring after L Ron Hubbard (and additional evidence will be presented in the next post in this series).

Despite Hubbard’s relative absence, the February 1951 issue (presented here) still contains interesting insights into Hubbard’s curious personality and the phenomenon of dianetics.

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Dianometry: Dianetics and Scientology in “Astounding Science Fiction” (Pt 16)

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dianometryIn the previous part of this series, we examined the January 1951 issue of “Astounding”. This contained the last article about dianetics by L Ron Hubbard that “Astounding” would publish. It was entitled “Dianometry” It begins on page 76, and it is a curious text.

Since its introduction in the May 1950 issue of “Astounding”, dianetics had boomed. At the beginning of 1951 money was pouring in and the “Hubbard Dianetics Institutes”, which were supposed to research and develop this ‘new science’ were expanding, .

This was not to last. Hubbard treated the income from the institutes as if it were his own money and, as the fad for dianetics passed, the institutes went bankrupt.

After this bankruptcy, Hubbard was to temporarily lose the copyright to dianetics. Undeterred, he arranged to have the institutes mailing lists stolen for him, and used then to recruit for his new enterprise, which he called Scientology.

Dianometry was the last gasp of Dianetics. For various reasons (discussed in this post) the fad could not be sustained beyond a certain point. The bankruptcy of the dianetics institutes was, in the long run, a stroke of luck for Hubbard – it enabled him to start again with a relatively clean slate, and avoid the mistakes that he had made the first time around.

It seems to me that Hubbard had left himself nowhere to go after the first two dianetics articles in “Astounding”. He had nothing in reserve after presenting all of of the attractive and accessible parts of his  pitch, namely that:

  • ‘Engrams’ not only cause physical and mental disease but also compromise an individual’s personal abilities
  • They can be removed by ‘dianetic therapy’ which will cure almost all disease and restore the patient to their natural state, which includes high intelligence and a perfect memory

All  that now Hubbard could do now was to try could do to keep the ball rolling was by elaborating his pitch with articles like “Dianometry”.

This article clearly did not have the popular appeal of his earlier appearances. It was for for enthusiasts of dianetics only. As such, it was an even less appropriate for a science fiction magazine. The declining ‘pulling power’ of dianetics articles could have contributed to Campbell’s loss of interest.

It seems that Dianetics itself  had run out of steam.

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L Ron Hubbard’s Swansong for “Astounding”: Dianetics and Scientology in “Astounding Science Fiction” (Pt 15)

astounding jan 1951Download Issue as .pdf

In the last part of this series, I suggested that readers of “Astounding Science Fiction” were beginning to tire of L Ron Hubbard’s lengthy articles about dianetics, and wanted more science fiction stories instead. Also, I wondered if  Campbell’s stable of writers, whom he had carefully nurtured, were beginning to look elsewhere to sell their fiction.

Whatever the reason, after a long period during which he had heavily promoted dianetics in his magazine, at the end of 1950 Campbell returned “Astounding”  to its core business and left the new ‘Hubbard Dianetics Institutes’ to stand on their own feet.

This issue contains the very last article by L Ron Hubbard to be published in “Astounding”. This little-know piece was entitled “Dianometry”.

It marks the end of  editorial comment and articles about dianetics in “Astounding”. The only substantial mention of the subject from now on will be in paid advertisements and the very occasional reader’s letter. The connection between dianetics and “Astounding” has finally been broken.

However, in the absence of modern communication and information technology, 50’s pulp magazines were slow to react. Two or three months could elapse between writing an editorial and delivering it into the customer’s hands. Stories and articles required an even greater lead time. Consequently, if there was a change in policy it could take some considerable time to put it completely into effect. Campbell seems to have been forced to publish “Dianometry” because it was already at the printers before he changed his mind.

In this post, we will examine the evidence in this issue that Campbell has decisively turned away from dianetics. In the next post, we will take a close look at Hubbard’s swansong – “Dianometry”- his very last article for “Astounding Science Fiction”. Continue reading

L Ron Hubbard on “The Analytical Mind” – Dianetics and Scientology in “Astounding Science Fiction” (Part 12)

analytical mindIn this post we will examine the long article by L Ron Hubbard entitled, “The Analytical Mind” which appeared in the October 1950 issue of “Astounding Science Fiction”.

The rest of the October issue was covered in the previous post in this series.

“The Analytical Mind” is Hubbard’s follow-up to the May 1950 article that introduced dianetics to readers of “Astounding”. Its almost as long, but it lacks the numerous illustrations that were a prominent feature of his original text.

At the time issue was published the “Hubbard Dianetic Research Dianetic Foundation was growing rapidly, and taking in a great deal of money. This was not to last, but as far as Hubbard was concerned, he was riding a perfect wave. He was now anxious to address criticism both from followers and outsiders. Continue reading