Here is my confession: in 1986 I bought a paperback copy of L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth simply for the challenge of reading a 1000-page book. (This was before I'd learned about Scientology.) The first half of the book bogged down terribly and it took me a long time to get through it, but the last third of the book picked up considerably, and I actually enjoyed it as a rollicking science fiction adventure. It was good enough for me to go through the Science Fiction Book Club and order all 10 volumes of Hubbard's so-called magnum opus: the Mission Earth series. Since I'd bought them all before reading them, I felt it necessary to work my way through all ten books of that sludge pile…and I did. I actually managed to survive it all with my sanity intact. Shortly after I finished that series, Time magazine published its famous expose of Scientology and Hubbard in May of 1991 …and the article shocked me so much that I took all ten of the Mission Earth books and threw them into the trash. After deciding that I should find out for myself what Scientology was all about, I found a copy of L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah Or Madman? at the library and began my journey down the road to what has been nearly two decades of opposition to Scientology.
But that story is for another time. As for the Mission Earth books themselves, my confession above shows that I read those books before I knew about Hubbard's mindset, and the details that went into the writing and publication of that science fiction monster. As I made my way through the books, I realized a few things:
Just to be sure that we don't miss a beat, the first book beats us over the head with the message THIS IS SATIRE by giving us a lengthy, boring definition of "satire." In other words, it's actually supposed to be non-realistic, cartoony, and over-the-top as it attacks its perceived enemies. The most interesting thing about the Mission Earth series is the way it gives us an insight into Hubbard's mind, both by showing us the type of selfless, heroic person Hubbard wanted to be (Jettero Heller), and by revealing the psyche of the greedy, cowardly, criminally insane person he really was (Soltan Gris). The fact that he could spend eight whole books telling the story from the point of view of a sadistic, self-centered criminal shows us who Hubbard really identified with. (I'll actually recommend the series as the best portrayal I've ever seen of a person who can truly be classified under the Dungeons & Dragons alignment of "chaotic evil." After reading these books, you'll never want to play a chaotic evil assassin yourself – I guarantee it.)
After I became involved in the online Scientology wars of the mid-1990s, I vented some of my frustrations by writing several reviews of the Mission Earth books on Amazon.com. These reviews may seem especially negative and downright hostile, so be sure to take my own bias against Scientology into consideration. However, looking back at these books in hindsight (at a time now when I'm more prone to laugh at Scientology rather than attack it), I'm still hard-pressed to find anything good to say about them.
One more thing: the word dekalogy. During his lifelong tenure as the founder, leader, prophet, and sole font of wisdom of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard invented his own language for use by Scientologists. This language contained ordinary words of common English, whose meanings were redefined by Hubbard. Hubbard then took credit for having invented these words. Such is it with the word "dekalogy" – a word foisted upon the reader with the front cover, back cover, and introduction of every book of this ten-book series…or rather, of this "dekalogy." As Hubbard reminds us repeatedly: "Dekalogy: a series of ten books." It's a marketing ploy: in the grandiose and self-congratulatory publishing history of the Mission Earth series, its publisher (Bridge Publications) declares this story is "so big, they (meaning Hubbard himself) had to invent a new word for it: dekalogy." This word is used incessantly to promote this series; yet, despite its simple meaning (Hubbard simply took the Latin phrases deca- and -logy and combined them to "invent" this word), you will never see it used anywhere other than to promote this particular series of books.
The Mission Earth books are one of the main reasons I haven't tried getting into the Left Behind series. It took long enough to get through ten volumes of Scientology propaganda. I don't have the time or the stamina to put up with twelve volumes of fundamentalist Christian End Times propaganda. (Actually, it's now thirteen volumes as of 2007…plus a three-volume prologue!)
(At this time I am working my way through Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle novels, however…)
Additional commentary on the individual books of the series can be found here:
See also: Amazon - So You'd Like To Learn About The Written Works Of L. Ron Hubbard. This is my own commentary on L. Ron Hubbard's literary career, written for Amazon.com. I tried to be as honest and neutral as possible, acknowledging the fact that Hubbard wasn't a bad writer…at first.
Update, April 2, 2017: I'm still haunted by the pain of reading those books. And only tonight, I had the idea of looking on YouTube for some video book reviews of the series. There are a few to be had, and they are all hilarious. You can sum it up with this statement, which begins at the 13:27 mark of this video. You can start at this point, then watch the video from the beginning if you're curious how it turned out that way:
And then there's…
Mission Earth is a monster of a book in many respects, especially in its massive size and sprawling plot. My own commentary on the series is only a few pages long, and doesn't even begin to scratch the surface in regards to the awesome cavalcade of insanity that Mission Earth offers to the reader. If you're truly interested in an exhaustively detailed and thorough commentary on the entire series, examining and analyzing every single chapter of this mammoth mass of pulp fiction, then I gladly suggest you take a look at Mission: Spork. The author of this blog spent a full three years (bit by bit) reading and examining the series. He goes into far, far greater detail than what you see here. (I was also surprised and flattered to see this very Web site mentioned in his own book-by-book summary and recap of the series.)
If you're actually interested in pursuing Mission Earth, my own page should give you an idea of what you're in for. Mission: Spork will spare you the effort of torturing your mind with these books, because the author succeeds where Hubbard fails. He writes an entertaining and enjoyable summary of a truly unexciting and execrable novel.