Subject: "Battlefield Mirth"
[(C) Roland Rashleigh-Berry, 15th January 1999]
"Battlefield Mirth" would be a more apt name for the film of L. Ron
Hubbard's book, "Battlefield Earth". Comic-strip 1950's style science
fiction with its almost complete ignorance of science smothered over by
lashings of overlarge heroes and villains and with a plot to match.
Written in the 1980's by Hubbard, it shows his style of science-fiction
had not progressed since the 1950's when he wrote for pulp-fiction
magazines. Here in this novel from the latter years of his life we have
the ludicrously named hero "Johnny Goodboy Tyler" opposing the
"Psychlos" - a barely disguised renaming of L. Ron Hubbard's pet hate in
the real world (of which he barely had a grasp), "Psyches", his
collective name for "psychiatrists". He hated psychiatrists for never
wasting their time with his crackpot pseudo-science of the mind,
Dianetics, later to become the religion "Scientology".
In the book, "Battlefield Earth", the young, blond, good-looking hero
Johnny Goodboy Tyler opposes the evil and ugly Psychlos, led by Terl,
although at some stage he is helped by kilt-wearing, whisky-drinking
Scots he discovers in the Highlands of Scotland, their lives having
reverted to the hackneyed style of poor historical fiction complete with
the traditional "Aye laddy"s and "Och-aye the noo"s after the planet has
suffered global extermination and a further thousand years of history.
The science aspect of the book is almost painful. Hubbard (who claimed
to be one of America's first nuclear scientists) has atom bombs
exploding on teleportation platforms with the force of it being entirely
contained by a force-field. And of course the air is clean to breathe
afterwards. He has a planet exploding inwards leaving no trace of debris
as well as a moon. Science-fiction at its very worst.
But now this awful book is to hit the big-screen with John Travolta
playing the evil alien Terl and with Brad Pitt rumored to be the
preferred actor for the part of the blond hero, Johnny Goodboy Tyler. It
has become John Travolta's number one priority for 1999. The budget for
the film has been estimated at $80 million. For this film to have any
chance of being popular with the public then its script would have to be
completely rewritten. But this is hardly likely to happen with John
Travolta, a devoted Scientologist and follower of L. Ron Hubbard, as one
of the directors. It would be blasphemy for Scientologists to change a
single thing. The film is doomed to failure so it will be a puzzle as to
who will be the backers for the $80 million budget. Perhaps it will be
the Church of Scientology itself who will dig into its coffers hoping to
increase its membership (and therefore its revenue) through the hoped
for popularity of the film and through that a revival of interest in L.
Ron Hubbard and his "religion".
So they hope. The more likely outcome will be an increased public focus
on the supposed "religion" of Scientology itself. Many will wonder what
happens when a poor science-fiction writer invents a religion. The
public will search for his poor science-fiction in the religion itself.
And in the secret levels of Scientology they will find it, since the
secret levels are secret no longer due to their many critics and
disgruntled ex-members using the medium of the Internet. Here we will
find science-fiction that makes "Battlefield Earth" look sophisticated.
On the secret level known as "OT III" that Scientologists must pay
$50,000 or so to reach we find the evil galactic overlord "Xenu" who 75
million years ago attempted to solve overpopulation in our sector of the
galaxy by calling people in for income-tax audits where they were
instead paralyzed by injections and then frozen in a mixture of alcohol
and glycol. Placed in refrigerated units, these frozen people were then
flown across space to Earth in DC-8 identical space-planes where they
were stacked around volcanoes and then killed by hydrogen bombs. The
souls of these beings are now supposed to inhabit our bodies as "body
thetans". Scientologists believe that when they are free of these "body
thetans" they will gain supernatural powers like the ability to
transport themselves to other planets. Perhaps they hope to emulate
their founder who claimed to have transported himself to the planet
Venus -- where he was nearly run over by a freight locomotive.
Could this all be a fabrication? An attempt by critics and ex-members to
discredit Scientology. It doesn't seem plausible that people would
actually part with very large sums of money to be told this and even
less plausible that they would believe it. But the evidence cannot be
refuted since L. Ron Hubbard gave many taped lectures and these include
this science-fiction story. Clips from these lectures can be listened to
directly from the Internet from the web-sites of critics.
It all gets even more bizarre. We have Hubbard claiming that Mars and
Venus are inhabited as well as Jupiter, where he claims the people look
like Eskimos. Regarding reincarnation and past lives, a belief in
Scientology, he claims that some Scientologists lived in the past not as
human beings, but as crocodiles who used to ride monocycles on 40-lane
The secrets of Scientology are out and the truth about this bizarre
concoction of science-fiction dream-ramblings is emerging into public
awareness. The film "Battlefield Earth", if it ever makes the big
screen, will accelerate this process and may well spell the end of L.
Ron Hubbard's science-fiction religion.
[(C) Roland Rashleigh-Berry, 15th January 1999]