A Golden Age tale: hardware, ideas, baddies and can-do cut-out heros.
is an exuberant Golden Age tale written decades out of its time. This is the wrong place to find believable heros, hard science, or grounded politics, but it's the right place for old-style problem-solving action adventure.
From the confines of a stinking cage, the protagonist swears to take down a occupying Galactic empire. The realisation of his dream, inch by painful inch, is an epic story arc. It has an expansive spirit, rather out of step with 80's Sci-Fi trends.
When an alien force takes over the Earth we normally dwell on their aircraft and shocktroops. This book lives behind the scenes, with the Psychlos
long after the invasion. Startlingly, we find that The Empire
is Walmart, as seen through the eyes of a Dilbert
strip. The unstoppable corporate warmachine is also a dark comedy of bureaucratic dysfunction.
There is a special horror in the mass economy of death and destruction. Any vehicle, gun or weapon, it's all out of a factory and Hubbard will always give us the part number. Earth is not special; the occupation of Earth is a single, unregarded, Starbucks franchise.
Terl, the Psychlo
security chief, is a memorable Villain Protagonist
. He is treated with unusual (worrying) sympathy. He is viciously cruel and pathetically insecure, but as the underdog in the world of the Psychlos his gutsy, if warped, striving to better his condition strikes a sad harmony with the hero's efforts.
Scott McCloud in Understanding Comics
notes that visually simple cartoon characters allow for audience identification. At best, the human hero Jonnie is one of these, an everyman. At worst, you may gag on the saccharine.
desperately needed an editor. The main story gives out half-way through without a clear finale. It's a slog to get through the 1000+ pages though there is a worthwhile second climax. The book explores some enjoyably baroque corners along the way: the paranoid details of Psychlo technology and mathematics leave DRM in the dust.
General critical opinion of Battlefield Earth
is very poor; possibly too harsh for what is a simplistic western. It is a pulp fiction dream of a simpler time, when a man could grab some tools, stake out a patch of land and make things happen. Give it a chance, especially if you don't have to buy it.