Battlefield Earth

Battlefield Earth cover (1984)Battlefield Earth: A Saga Of The Year 3000 by L. Ron Hubbard

1050 pages long.



First published in 1980

My copy began with an introduction by L. Ron Hubbard, then into the story proper; which, including the epilogue consists of thirty-three parts and many chapters within each part. I managed to read the book long after the film had bombed and faded into sci-fi film the bottom mostly. Virgin to this book and knowing not a lot about L. Ron Hubbard other than the facts that he was dead, he initiated or founded the cult of 'scientology' and was one of many names, famed for setting sci-fi on the road to success.

First off it really is a damned good read. Dragging you along at a fair old lick Hubbard writes with a style that matched by my longing for the next bit to happen. He seems to be able to write in a way that is as fast as your enthusiasm. Occasionally I thought the style a bit awkward, a bit too fast. Characterization is very good, there are the important detailed characters, middle-ranging sketched characters and the less needed, who are only penciled in as and when they become more important. I found my self leaving the book about half way through to try other stuff that had been calling to me. Not because I thought the book was overly long or boring but because at a certain point in the book, part 15, it could have almost ended, many would have had an epilogue and finished it there and then. Passed it over to the publishers and made some money from the rave reviews...this Hubbard fella, however, went on for another 596 pages. but it felt so 'right' to pause there for a while. The political views contained therein were not lost on me, was this an example of society in Hubbard's views? Yes, partly, but also like many great writers in the past not so much an exploration but a vehicle for his own reasoning and ideals; it was also a trip into logic and a way to show that mathematics are integral to many facets of life. In the end it works brilliantly; the epilogue ties everything up nicely and I finished the book with a feeling of well-being and satisfaction.

As for many of the 'villains' of the book they are almost standard Star Trek in formula, except they did have trouble communicating at first, at last English was not standard. My other concerns for the quality of this book was the fact that Jonnie Goodboy Tyler was such an impressive hero. Jonnie must have had such luck, such a gift or psychic power for he managed to perceive things and accomplish things no normal human could have done. A wilderness hunter turned language expert, world saver and eventually expert diplomat and engineer. His foresights were as if bequeathed by the gods. Super skill with kill-club or piloting an alien spaceship, endurance of an ox and wisdom of a sage, he was also so normal at other times, he was a maelstrom of abilities and levels. The conscience of the book, he could be strong, determined and weak all when the story needed it. I'm sure the archetype was based on Clark Kent. I do not know why Jonnie Goodboy Tyler is not mentioned among the great literary heroes.

I think the reason why Battlefield Earth is often not in the lists of the great sci-fi books is because it deals with the Asimov style of sci-fi, the nitty-gritty of economics, mechanics and physics. Removing it perhaps from those cerebral sci-fi fans, but much more than the Foundation series, it has the Star Wars style of battle and combat. This should be the best of both worlds but I rarely hear it mentioned in reviews or lists, and now, after the floundered movie, it seems to have dropped even further. A shame and a crime to say the least.


Enjoyment: 6, Depth: 7, Readability: 9, Layout: 8, Value: 6.

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Last updated: 28th May 2003