Cover of the novel Battlefield Earth intended to promote the movie

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Battlefield Earth

Battlefield Earth is the name of both a science fiction novel written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and a film adaptation of the novel produced by and starring John Travolta. more...

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The book

The novel Battlefield Earth was first published in 1980 by St. Martin's Press, though all subsequent reprintings have been by Church of Scientology publishing companies Bridge Publications and Galaxy Press. This was Hubbard's first science fiction novel since his pulp magazine days of the 1940s, and it was promoted as Hubbard's "return" to science fiction after a long hiatus.

Written in the style of the pulp fiction era (during which Hubbard began his writing career), the novel is a massive work (over 750 pages in hardcover, 1000+ in paperback) telling a fictional story set approximately 1,000 years in our future. Before the story begins, the reader learns, an evil alien race called the "Psychlos" invaded Earth near the end of the 20th century, destroying human civilization in a matter of days and reducing humankind to little more than cave dwellers. A thousand years later, a series of events is put into action that finally gives humanity a chance to rebel against their alien overlords and free Earth from the control of a massive galactic empire.

Reaction to the book from literary critics and science fiction fans has been decidedly mixed since its publication. While generally acknowledged to be one of Hubbard's better books, reviews and comments on it have ranged from being thrilling and action-packed to plodding, overlong, and even unreadable. In particular, accusations have been made that the book includes themes of Scientology.

A large number of booksellers, publishing executives, and former Scientologists state that, as with other Hubbard books, the organization of Scientology engaged in a massive public relations campaign to buy enormous quantities of the book, in order to place it onto best-seller lists and foster the image of Hubbard as a best-selling author. As reported in The San Diego Union, representatives of Hubbard actually promised the publishing house a particular number of copies would be bought by subsidiary organizations of Scientology. Various bookstore chains (including Waldenbooks) have cited examples of Scientologists repeatedly coming into stores and buying armfuls of the book at a time. Several bookstores reported that shipments of the book arrived with the store's own price tags already affixed to them, even before they were unpacked from the shipping boxes.

Scientology-related content

Within the book the Catrists, a pun on psychiatrists, are described as a group of evil charlatans, claiming to be mental health experts, which is exactly how the Church of Scientology views psychiatry. Those among the alien race of Psychlos who do not share the views of the Catrists or oppose them are subjected to various forms of persecution, and the Catrists use surgical mind control to maintain their power.


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