OR ALL THE NAME L. RON HUBBARD REPRESENTS AS THE FOUNDER OF DIANETICS AND SCIENTOLOGY, let us never lose sight of the man as an author specifically, among the worlds most enduring and widely read authors of popular fiction, with international sales approaching forty million and a body of work spanning fifty years. Nor let us lose sight of his greater impact; he is legitimately credited with helping to reshape whole genres through the 1930s and 1940s, while his eleven consecutive New York Times bestsellers from the 1980s still mark an unequaled event in publishing history. Then, too, let us never lose sight of all he represented in the name of authorship as a profession which is to say, all that is presented here as L. Ron Hubbard addresses the craft of writing.
Included are essays, articles and notes from the whole of those fifty years as a leading light of popular fiction. That we find L. Ron Hubbard devoted so much in explanation of creative writing is typical of a man who authored the singularly most influential philosophic statement on artistic creativity, Art. It is likewise typical of a man who founded the singularly most prestigious program for the discovery of young talent within speculative fiction, the internationally acclaimed Writers of The Future Contest. Then again, it is typical of an American Fiction Guild president who worked so doggedly on behalf of emerging talent through the Great Depression, the voice of new authors from the Pacific Northwest and a regular voice of encouragement to colleagues in need. But quite apart from all other efforts to instruct and inspire, we are about to discover how L. Ron Hubbard himself approached the blank page how he conceived of ideas, executed those ideas and otherwise attended to what he first and foremost described as this business of writing.
It would prove a lifelong occupation. His earliest published stories date from 1932, or his sophomore year at George Washington University where three LRH works appear among the pages of the student quarterly: two tragic tales drawn from travels across Asia, and the existential narrative of a sailor who has glimpsed his own death in a San Diego movie house. For whatever its worth, the stories are miles better than the maudlin stuff from fellow undergraduates and, arguably, the finest work to emerge from the George Washington literary department. Beyond university, and following much in the way of raw adventure through the course of two Caribbean expeditions, he set himself to a fully professional literary pursuit in particular, supplying short stories to that legendary vehicle of popular fiction, the rough stock periodicals otherwise known as the pulps.
The pulps name alone still conjures images of high adventure in exotic realms: Tarzan and Doc Savage stalking crazed killers through beast-infested jungles, the Shadow and Phantom hunting equally nefarious creatures through a grim urban nether world. And if critics of the day generally dismissed it all as lowbrow escapism, the best of those pulps represented a lot more. For example, with the likes of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Tennessee Williams all setting forth from the pages of pulps, those pages finally gave as much to the modern American novel as a Hemingway or Fitzgerald. (Chandler probably described it best as that literature reflecting a sharp, aggressive attitude towards life... spare, frugal, hard-boiled...) Then, too, with a full quarter of the American population regularly turning to those crudely cut pages, the pulps did far more than a Henry James or a Stephen Crane to introduce a nation to the sheer joy of reading.
What L. Ron Hubbard wrought in that great pulp kingdom was ultimately just as significant and just as transcendent. As perfect a piece of science fiction as has ever been written, declared Robert Heinlein of the apocalyptic Final Blackout; while elsewhere we find that LRH tale of a war without end repeatedly described as surpassing all science fiction offered as of 1940. Representing no less to the realm of modern fantasy is the perennially popular Fear, broadly acknowledged as a pillar of all modern horror and, as master of the genre Stephen King proclaimed, one of the few in the genre which actually merits employment of the overworked adjective classic, as in This is a classic tale of creeping, surreal menace and horror.