[Picture]      As an introductory word, let us briefly consider a continuing topic of LRH interest extending from his ethnological work in the Caribbean and elsewhere – namely, the primitive’s belief in unseen but “jealous beings anxious to undermine the happiness of man.” The subject proved particularly fascinating owing to its universality; virtually all tribal communities subscribe to a cosmology of animistic demons. Of interest here, however, is what followed from that research in a purely literary sense – namely, the extraordinary tale of ethnologist James Lowry who must find four missing hours from his life. Originally entitled “Phantasmagoria,” and rightly described as a story of “metaphysical unease,” it is a landmark work in every way and remembered today as Fear.

     “If I handle it properly,” reads an LRH note on the work in progress, “it will be something Dostoevski might have done.” He was correct, and particularly when considering the hauntingly surreal Notes from the Underground. The work has also been compared to the best of Edgar Allan Poe, and just as legitimately so:

     “Clouds, hard driven high up, occasionally flashed shadows over the pavement and lawns; the breeze close to earth frisked with the remnants of autumn, chasing leaves out of corners and across lawns against trees, bidding them vanish and make way for a new harvest later on.”

     But quite apart from all comparison, here is what literary historian David Hartwell described as among “the foundations of the contemporary modern horror genre,” and work of profound “moral complexity that helped transform horror literature from antiquarian or metaphysical form into a contemporary and urban form with the gritty details of everyday realism.” In that regard, he concludes, “From Ray Bradbury to Stephen King, a literary debt is owed to L. Ron Hubbard for Fear.

     One could cite many more: Fear is probably the singly most celebrated work to have emerged from the whole of this pulp kingdom. One could also say much more: beyond Fear, stands a literal shelf of such fully unforgettable LRH works as “Typewriter in the Sky,” “Ole Doc Methuselah,” and that seminal tale of the time dilation theme, “To the Stars.” But the time has now come to hear of these days from LRH himself.

The Golden Age continued...

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