By Thomas Krehbiel
I recently finished a series of 10 pulp sci-fi books (allegedly) by L. Ron Hubbard called Mission: Earth. The books were terrible beyond belief (worse even than Dan Brown – at least Brown novels have an interesting story idea), and I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone. Wikipedia has it right: “It is frequently cited within science fiction circles as one of the worst science fiction novels ever written.”
I’m not really sure why I suffered through all ten books, except that I had started them long ago and never got around to finishing them. Also, as someone who secretly wonders about writing a novel, it was a great confidence-builder. (“If somebody published this piece of crap, surely somebody would publish my writing.”)
The main themes of Mission: Earth, as you might expect from a Hubbard book, strongly resemble some of the themes of Scientology: a) Earth is populated only by deviants, perverts and drug addicts, b) Psychology and psychiatry are used by the power elite to control the population, and c) "PR" (public relations) is a destructive force more powerful than any weapon.
The first two could be argued either way, but that third theme really struck me as prescient. The books were written in the mid-80s, before the Internet, but Hubbard’s vision of a “PR man” that could shape and direct worldwide public opinion isn’t far off. It’s really easy to imagine – and not very difficult to find it in action – a nefarious marketing campaign manipulating today’s press with exaggerated, if not completely made-up, news stories.
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