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Mission Earth - Black Genesis

Now that we've gotten through the first book in this series, it's time to buckle down and prepare for a long, slow, tedious, "satirical" journey through the world as seen through the eyes of L. Ron Hubbard. Beginning with a description of possibly the most absurd science fiction faster-than-light drive you'll ever see (if you thought the "Bistromath" drive from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series was silly, it pales in comparison to the "Will-Be/Was Drive"), we finally arrive on earth and get down to business. Hubbard's goal in this "satire" is to shine the light of truth on society, and we can see what he thinks of it – government (and especially the FBI) is corrupt, and the world is held in the grip of a massive corporate conspiracy, using drugs and rock and roll music to keep the populace sedate and obedient while the corporations poison the environment for profit. But don't worry – Jettero Heller (a.k.a. L. Ron Hubbard) has arrived to save the world!

Unfortunately, the secret identity used by Heller is designed (by Soltan Gris) to immediately attract the attention of the evil "Rockecenter" corporation, which secretly controls all of Earth through the oil industry. (Hmmm…I wonder what pun the name "Rockecenter" refers to?) Fortunately, Heller is so perfect and athletic – and Gris is so stupid – that he survives long enough to familiarize himself with the society of the late twentieth century. Among other things, he finds himself allying with the Mafia, and specifically the Corleone family (that's right, the Corleone Mafia family) in their war against the evil Narcotici mob. (And yes, the puns really are that blatant throughout the series.)

It's worth noting here that among the many negative reviews of this series – and, yes, this series deserves every one of them – there are repeated comments and criticisms of the long-winded and bloated way Hubbard fills this story with hundreds, or even thousands, of pages with scenes and sequences in which "nothing happens." I'll give Hubbard credit that the plot twists laid out during these tedious and glacial proceedings are related to the main story. One example is scene here in Black Genesis, when Jettero Heller begins exploring Earth and encounters his first Earth inhabitant with whom he becomes familiar. This would be Mary Schmeck, a heroin-addicted prostitute. She is currently going through withdrawal because she hasn't had a hit for a while. For several chapters, we see Heller taking Mary to several seedy locations as he assists in her attempts to score heroin. Aside from introducing Heller (and the reader) to the "seedy" and "horrific" world of drug addiction, Hubbard also refers back to this much later in the series. In Disaster Heller treats an important person in the Voltarian government (I won't mention who at this time) who has also become a drug addict, and he uses the experience from what he sees here to save that official's life. Despite the claims by various critics that this series is full of worthless filler where "nothing happens," things do happen during these books. The problem is that Hubbard could have condensed these scenes by at least three-fourths of their length, and still given us the exact same sequences of plot and action. These books are padded out to the extreme, and this is almost certainly one of Mission Earth's fatal flaws.

Gris gets down to the business of attempting to run things from behind the scenes, while simultaneously setting himself up for one idiotic scheme after another. The stage is now set for the ultimate battle between the good Heller and the evil Rockecenter corporation, with Gris cowering behind the scenes…

And it takes two full books (over 700 pages) to get this far. Have I mentioned that things are moving at a stupefyingly slow pace? Just remember that these two paragraphs here cover over 300 pages of material. And you thought the Wheel of Time books were bloated and overdone…