A Scientology-influenced Science Fiction Story From 1954, Penned by a Minor Scientology ‘Celebrity’

Authentic Science Fiction #41 (Jan 1954) coverAuthentic Science Fiction Monthly No 41 | Jan 1954  | Featured Novel: The Phoenix Nest | Richard DeMille | Download Issue as .pdf (to download, click on the grey ‘Download through Browser’ button which will appear in a new tab).

If you mention Scientology today, to anyone who who has not looked into it, a typical response will be: “Isn’t that the cult Tom Cruise is involved with?”

Scientology has cultivated celebrities for years, now and treats celebrity members like royalty. They are one of the few means that the Church has left to project a positive image and attract attention to its message. Tom Cruise is the Jewel in Scientology’s tarnished crown, but they also count a number of minor celebrities and fading stars among their members.

This obsession isn’t new. In early1955, an article in the Scientology periodical “Ability” by L Ron Hubbard offered a reward to any Scientologist who recruited anyone on a list of named celebrities .

That article is probably the first written evidence of such a policy, but Hubbard recruited minor celebrities before it became a fixed doctrine, and exploited the resources they provided him with and  interest they drew.

One of the early Scientology celebrities was Richard deMille who was, for many years, presented as the son of the film director Cecil B deMille. Among other things, he wrote for science fiction pulp magazines (as did L Ron Hubbard).

Although he was probably valued by Hubbard as much for his potential to influence his famous father as for himself, deMille did subtly promote Scientology in his writing, as we can see in the story featured in this post

Appearing in the British pulp science fiction magazine “Authentic Science Fiction” its plot depended crucially on Scientology concepts (principally the incorporeal ‘Thetan’) and developed a theme of personal immortality through Science. Continue reading

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A Literate Science Fiction Magazine Considers L Ron Hubbard’s Fiction Writing

Interzone May 1990Interzone | May 1990 |  The Big Sellers – L Ron Hubbard | Lee Montgomerie | Download as .pdf (A new tab will open – click on the grey box ‘Download through your Browser’ )

Interzone is a minor miracle. It’s a  monthly British science fiction magazine founded in 1982, which is still published on paper. Its founders included prominent critics of the genre and the writing is still good. It’s a demonstration that the slapdash days of the pulps are long past, and the genre has grown up.

This article, from 1990, was part of a series that assessed the writing of popular SF authors – the ‘”Big Sellers”. It seems that the author could not ignore L Ron Hubbard in this context.

Montgomerie examines “Battlefield Earth” (which was recently reissued by a publisher wholly owned by the Church of Scientology) and the  “Mission Earth” series in detail. However, he makes it clear that there was something suspicious about the ‘best-seller’ status of those texts. As for his opinion on their literary quality, download the .pdf, and read on… Continue reading

“Blown”: A Novel Set in the World of the Sea Org

BlownBlown| Lauren Halsted Burroughs | 2016 | ISBN 978–0-692-68160-2 | Read Online

There is currently only one other novel (that I know of) set in the closed social world of Scientology, “The Symphony of Lief“, by Paul Y Csige. “Blown” is a welcome addition to this tiny sub-genre.

“Blown” is written by an outsider who is acting as a ghost writer for an ex-Scientologist. The content is based on her principal’s experience as a young, female, second generation Scientologist, who joined the Sea Org at an early age.

The Sea Org presents itself as equivalent to a monastic order, where the most dedicated Scientologists dedicate themselves to the cause. They wear pseudo-naval uniforms because the founder of Scientology, L Ron Hubbard served in the US Navy. Although his career was actually undistinguished, Scientologist are told that he was a war hero.

The reality of Sea Org ‘service’ is equally disappointing. Many members are children of Scientologists who are pressured to join, or recruited straight out of Scientology schools (Download Evening Standard article about the UK’s “Greenfields School”). Having had no meaningful education they are consigned to a life of manual labour, for example restoring buildings bought by the Church of Scientology.

At the same time, they are required to ‘study’ Scientology and are subject to direct control over every aspect of their lives. This occurs both indirectly (through the requirements of Scientology and practice) and directly (though the application of military-style ‘discipline’ that is indistinguishable from abuse).

“Blown” principally follows the lives of two sisters (Amory and Riley) and their friend Daisy through their early careers in the Sea Org, and shows how destructive this kind of total institution is to human relationships and welfare. Continue reading

The Story of the e-meter Part 2: Scientology – Take Nobody’s Word for It

Amazing Stories June 1929

Amazing Stories June 1929 Issue

For critics of Scientology, credibility is everything.

Representatives of the Church do not have an arguable case – in fact, they are often placed in the invidious position of having to defend Scientology doctrines that they are not presently aware of (or, if they are, are not allowed to discuss).

Their only option they have is to catch critics out in a mistake – and use this to attack their credibility. This is why it is important for critics to  check their sources.

I recently did, and was… surprised. I had used a quote sourced from Wikipedia  in the previous post  in this series about the origins and development of the e-meter.

In the June 1929 issue of Amazing Stories, Mathison’s story, “The Mongolian’s Ray” appeared and was promoted on the cover. Forrest J. Ackerman and Brad Linaweaver write in the book Worlds of Tomorrow, “In this story, he created the fictional device that shortly after the introduction of Dianetics, morphed into reality as the E-meter employed today to supposedly reveal the personalities of individuals interested in becoming ‘clears’ in the Dianetic regimen.

Ackerman, Forrest J.; Brad Linaweaver (2004). Worlds of Tomorrow: The Amazing Universe of Science Fiction Art. Collectors Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-1-888054-93-4.

It turns out to be wrong in every respect.

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Scientology and “The Mentalist”

visualise logo2010 | The Mentalist Extract from Season 2 Episode 20 (“Red all Over”)

Play extract in video window YouTube | Download File
Full episode Watch Online

The “Visualize Self-realization Church” that occasionally appears in early episodes bears a distinct resemblance to the Church of Scientology.

As a satire, this is great fun. It’s also interesting that the television company which made  the programme is not afraid of retaliation from the Church of Scientology – nor afraid that viewers might complain that its mockery of the Church is unfair.  Video after the break… Continue reading

L Ron Hubbard – Literary Genius or Hack?

science fictionThe Church of Scientology has invested a lot of time and effort, over the years, in mythologising its founder, L Ron Hubbard

Part of this effort is devoted to promoting the claim that Hubbard was  a brilliant, and critically celebrated, author (especially of Science Fiction)

To this end, the Church keeps all of Hubbard’s fiction in print. In the past, it has not only ordered Scientologists to buy Hubbard’s novels for themselves, but also them sent members out with Church money to repeatedly purchase books (which were then returned to stock) in order to ensure that his titles appeared in best-seller lists.

Today, the Church organises an award for science fiction writers (L Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future) with substantial prizes and a lavish presentation ceremony. The real purpose of these ‘prizes’ seem to be the promotion of Hubbard as an important figure in science fiction history, acknowledged by contemporary authors and critics.

His real status is revealed by two books – both well-respected literary surveys of science fiction. One was published in 1961, when Dianetics and Scientology were still being actively developed by Hubbard, the other in 2005, 10 years after Hubbard’s death.

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“Friday” by Robert Heinlein and the Origin of ‘Homo Novis’

friday cover alt1982 | Friday | Robert A Heinlein

ISBN-10: 034530988X
ISBN-13: 978-0345309884

This is one of Heinlein’s better late novels, which provides a small insight into his  attitude towards Hubbard and Scientology.  “Friday” follows the journey of a young woman, called ‘Friday’ (who happens to be a genetically enhanced ‘combat courier’) across a future balkanised North America.

the book was published in 1982  (the same year as L Ron Hubbard’s critically-panned novel “Battlefield Earth”).  At this time, Scientology was attracting media attention, and  Hare Krishna devotees selling books and flowers were a common sight in public places.

One of the characters describes a three-way fight between Scientologists, Hare Krishna devotees, and ‘Angels of the Lord’ (a cult invented by Heinlein – a cross between extreme right-wing fundamentalist ‘Christians’ and a motorcycle gang).

The Scientologist have, of course had to fight for their rights many times; they fought with discipline, defended themselves and disengaged rapidly – got out, taking their wounded with them (pg 124- 5 ppb)

Heinlein had met Hubbard when they had both written for “Astounding Science Fiction”. He believed Hubbard’s ‘war stories’ and thought that Hubbard had been a capable military officer – a man who had seen action and been severely wounded. In fact, Hubbard had never seen combat.

His account in “Friday” of the behaviour of future Scientologists is the way that he imagined an organisation founded by an honourable, if eccentric war veteran would develop.  If Heinlein had known the truth about Hubbard’s war service and life history, it is unlikely it he would portrayed Scientology in such a positive light.

Heinlein was right about one thing – the behaviour of Scientology today reflects the personality of its founder. His mistake was in misjudging Hubbard. If Heinlein had only read “Bare Faced Messiah“, which revealed Hubbard as a casually cruel pathological liar, he would surely have had something more interesting to say about Scientology.

So, where does Homo Novis come in? Read on…

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