Inferno: How Science Fiction Writers View L Ron Hubbard – Hot Stuff Indeed

inferno cover 1976 | Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle | Inferno
ISBN-10: 0765316765
ISBN-13: 978-0765316769

Niven and Pounelle are both respected SF authors, who sometimes collaborate. This fantasy novel is a exception to their usual ‘hard SF‘ style.

It is a reworking of the most famous work of the great Italian poet Dante.  In Dante’s “Inferno” the (thinly disguised) author takes a guided tour of hell, courtesy of the Roman poet Virgil.

In Niven and Pournelle’s version a (fictional) SF author – Allen Carpentier – attempts to upstage Isaac Asimov at an SF convention. Unfortunately, he is dead drunk at the time,  and only succeeds in falling (unnoticed) out of a window. He wakes up in hell, and takes his tour as an inmate.

On his travels, Carpentier meets a variety of historical and contemporary figures. His guide describes how their surreal punishments are designed to complement the sins which for which they condemned. These include Epictetus, Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Bob FordHenry VIII of England, Vlad Tepes, Aimee Semple McPherson, William M. Tweed, Al Capone and, of course, L Ron Hubbard (whose appearance is very brief, but telling). Continue reading

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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…

Continue reading

The Mind Game

the mind gameTitle: The Mind Game

Author: Norman Spinrad

ISBN-10: 0553250612
ISBN-13: 978-0553250619

Description:

Jack Weller, director of a grade-B Saturday morning television show called Monkey Business (starring a chimpanzee) and his wife Annie, an aspiring actress attend a social gathering at the Celebrity Center of a movement called Transformationalism.

Jack hopes to schmooze and meet people he can use as stepping stones to an improved career, but Annie becomes more interested in Transformationalism and its founder, former science fiction writer John B. Steinhardt. Continue reading

The Symphony of Leif

leifTitle: The Symphony of Leif

Author: Paul Y Csige

ISBN: 97181603650045

Official Video Trailer

Description: A coming- of-age novel written from the point of view of a 14-year old boy (the ‘Leif’ of the titile). When his parents send him to a (fictional) Scientology boarding  school, he is unaware that this is no ordinary establishment. Along the way Leif encounters ‘study tech’, ethics and the unique Scientology approach to physical illness.

The author, although obviously critical of Scientology, never preaches or explains the school’s odd practices – any reader who is unfamiliar with Scientology must puzzle out the strange, sadistic, behaviour of “the ethics lady” alongside the central character.