"Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion."
— L. Ron Hubbard
Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was born March 13, 1911, and was both a sailor and writer before founding one of the most controversial religious movements of the 20th century.
As a writer, Hubbard was extraordinarily prolific during the 30's and 40's, writing both short stories for pulp magazines and longer work such as Buckskin Brigades
and Ole Doc Methuselah
. While writing in many genres, he was best known for his science fiction. Opinions of his work are sharply divided, and his later notoriety has rendered it almost impossible to judge his work objectively. (Although some have tried.
) Most critics grant that he had at least some talent, and his novel To The Stars
was respected enough to be nominated for a Retro Hugo
Had his life continued on this path, he would probably be remembered today as a significant writer of the Golden Age Of Science Fiction
, though probably not one of "the greats". Instead, he created Dianetics
, a style of therapy based on digging up traumatic memories, including Past-Life Memories
, through persistent questioning. Although roundly criticized by the medical and scientific communities, Dianetics
found a following. The Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation, set up to train Dianetic auditors, soon became a multimillion dollar enterprise, but mismanagement, scandals, and a public backlash caused it to fail in 1952.
Undaunted, Hubbard used Dianetics as the basis for a religious movement called Scientology (known on this wiki as the Church of Happyology
). Supporters claim that Hubbard's shift from a psychological movement to a religious one was due to "having discovered that man is most fundamentally a spiritual being". Skeptics have suggested that his true motive was to exploit tax breaks and insulate himself from criticism from the scientific community.
To cut a very, very long story short, Scientology was incredibly successful and secured Hubbard's fortunes for the rest of his life, but controversy has dogged the movement to the present day. Critics have alleged that the church practices fraudulent medicine, financially exploits adherents, and has a cultlike atmosphere. The church in turn has been very public (sometimes criminal) in battles against its critics. Scientology has gathered a massive Hatedom
, and modern pop culture uses it as a stock punchline, although members of the church remain devoted.
Near the end of his life, Hubbard returned to his roots as a science fiction author, releasing Battlefield Earth
in 1982 and the ten-volume, four thousand page Space Opera Mission Earth
(no relation) over a two-year period starting in 1985. Both were bestsellers, although how much of this is attributable to Scientologists buying multiple copies in a effort to drive the books up the lists is a matter of debate. 'Battlefield Earth
got some respect from fans of pulp adventure (The movie
, not so much.), but Mission Earth
not. Hubbard died January 24, 1986, three months after the first volume of Mission Earth
Hubbard currently holds Guinness world records for most books published (1,084) and most languages his books have been translated into (71).
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Works by Hubbard with their own trope pages include:
Tropes commonly associated with Hubbard and his work include:
- Author Tract: His final novels, Battlefield Earth and the 10-volume Mission Earth. In Battlefield Earth psychiatry is what caused the evil space overlords to turn from their generally happy live-and-let-live prior existence, into amoral Planet Looters who regularly commit planetary genocide just so nobody will get in the way of their mining operations. Psychiatry is also the big-bad in Mission Earth, to the extent that every single antagonist is either a supporter of the profession or a practitioner or exporting it off-world or using it to take over the world. It doesn't help that almost every character is a Strawman Political.
- For example, the evil Psychlos. This isn't a play on 'psycho'—it's a reference to psychologists, who are considered evil in Scientology doctrine.
- His earlier work Masters of Sleep promotes Dianetics and features as a villain a mad psychiatrist, Doctor Dyhard, who persists in rejecting Dianetics after all his abler colleagues have accepted it, and believes in prefrontal lobotomies for everyone.
- Other common targets for Hubbard's ire include journalists, federal investigators, bankers, elected officials, policemen, doctors, college professors, and modern art. The first two had conducted investigations of Scientology, earning them his animus.
- Blatant Lies: Cracked gathered five particularly glaring examples.
- Space Opera: In fiction and in his religion.
- What Could Have Been: The mythos of Scientology is actually based on a screenplay called "Revolt in the Stars" that Hubbard tried to pitch to studios in the early 70s. If you are at all familiar with the mythos, let's just say it would make Dune look like Star Wars.
- Writer on Board: Particularly on the subject of clinical psychology/psychiatry, which he strongly disapproved of. His ten-volume Mission Earth series also contains veiled and not-so-veiled attacks on homosexuals, governments, corporations, academia, public relations, and various other groups. At times, it veers into Author Tract.