[“...trying harder to make every word live  and breathe.”]

     One could say more, particularly regarding the extraordinary critical and popular success of the later LRH. The internationally bestselling Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000, for example, not only stands as the largest single volume of science fiction to date, but among the most honored. In addition to both the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films’ Golden Scroll and Saturn Awards, the work has earned Italy’s Tetradramma D’Oro Award (in recognition of the story’s inherent message of peace) and a special Gutenberg Award as an exceptional contribution to the genre. Similarly honored was the ten-volume Mission Earth series, each topping international bestseller lists in what amounted to a publishing phenomenon and cumulatively earning both the Cosmos 2000 Award from French readers and Italy’s Nova Science Fiction Award. Then again, one could cite all L. Ron Hubbard represents as the model author in many a university – very much including the L. Ron Hubbard wing of Moscow University’s Gorky Library – and all else he represents to modern fiction as a whole: “...one of the most prolific and influential writers of the twentieth century,” to quote critic and educator Stephen V. Whaley. But it is finally not the purpose of this publication to merely celebrate the author, L. Ron Hubbard; our purpose is to learn from him.

     Among the various essays to follow, LRH makes reference to a certain “professor of short story... [who] knew nothing about the practical end of things.” We happen to know that professor as Douglas Bement of George Washington University – apparently well–meaning, but fairly obsessed with all the claptrap of academic criticism, including the intentional foreshadow, the timely denouement, the pervasive mood and carefully wrought allegory. As an undergraduate, Ron confesses to learning nothing; while as a later guest at the lectern, he tells of inciting a virtual revolt when defining a viable production rate in terms of a hundred thousand words a month. (So much for the carefully wrought allegory.) But in either case, and for all that is indeed carefully wrought in the LRH short story, he offers none of the Bement verbiage.

     The fact is, no one addresses the world of an author with greater candor and authenticity than L. Ron Hubbard. Moreover, his pronouncements are timeless – every bit as pertinent to authorship in the nineties as when he originally fought his way into that vibrant pulp jungle. True, the paperback has long replaced the pulp, the advance-against-royalties, the penny-a-word, and the mass-market novelette is virtually no more. But the rest remains: the agents and editors, the markets and percentages, the scathing critics, the checkless Fridays, the “trying harder to make every word live and breathe.” Then, too, the passion remains unchanged, “to write, write and then write some more. And never to allow weariness, lack of time, noise, or any other thing to throw me off my course.”

     In addition to instructional essays from his formative years, we include working notes on the shaping of the monumental Battlefield Earth and Mission Earth and the same again from the crafting of later screenplays. Also included are incidental remarks on life as a “manuscript factory,” and much else following from the statement, “Somehow I got started in the writing business.”


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