19 April 2016

Book Review: Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard

TL;DR: No me gusta. Muy tonto.

Why’d I read this book? 

Three reasons:

First, I’m slightly curious about Scientology, and the author is the guy who founded Battlefield Earth (I make fun of him in I’M JERRY SEINFELD).

Second, I saw a YouTube video in which Mitt Romney said he was reading and enjoying it.

And third, I’m working on a space fantasy (titled STARCHILD), so I’d like to immerse myself further in the genre.

First impressions

The first scene intrigued me. I initially thought I was going to love it. Then both primary characters started acting hyper naïve, which bothered me. For example, the Cyclo knows what a horse is, and yet he can’t figure out that a horse and rider are two separate creatures. So dumb.

The dumb doesn’t stop there. It weaves itself into the plot as well. Let me explain. The antagonist, in the second half, is simply a pair of Intergalactic loan sharks. Like aliens who literally look like sharks who are calling in an intergalactic loan that Earth supposedly owes. Uhh.

Basically, Battlefield Earth has a plot like The Hitchhiker’s Guide, only without the comedy. Isn’t that funny? I’ve even wondered whether I read the wrong book—since my take is so far from what the review on the cover says. Oh well.

To be fair, I imagine I’m annoyed and uninterested in this like I’d be toward Out of the Silent Planet if I weren’t previously a friend of C. S. Lewis. And, yes, we are friends. Brothers. He’s the messy brother though.

What I did like

The audiobook narrator was awesome. I especially liked his voice for Lord Faljapan. Reminded me of Dick Van Dyke.

I also liked the size difference between the orcs (Cyclos) and humans—with humans being only as tall as the other’s belt. It’s just some cool, interesting, scary physicality.

Also, there’s a quick bit about gaining instant knowledge through a beam of sunlight. That was a pretty cool concept (though not original—kind of Matrixey).

In defense of the bad guys

Turl is the name of the Cyclo bad guy. (I did the audio, so I’m not sure I’m spelling these right.) But he isn’t that bad of a bad guy. He’s not bad enough, I mean, which means he does his antagonistic job poorly. He’s SPOILER ALERT stealing from thieves—quite ironic but not so horrible—so he can get out of a miserable environment. He’s also super dumb, which makes him not threatening and easier to have sympathy for. Wait, do I hear someone shouting, “But he doesn’t respect the humans as a race!”? Okay, that is true. But the humans don’t respect his race either.

ANOTHER SPOILER: In the end, the moral of the story seems to be genocide: The characters basically come to the conclusion that “since there are Nazis in Germany, we should kill every single German.” (Only replace German with Cyclo.) It’s super strange if you ask me. The Cyclos aren’t that bad, yet the victory is to exterminate them completely.

There you have it. Probably steer clear of this book. And sorry to anyone I offended. Sometimes opinions do that.


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If you want to read along, here’s what’s coming next:

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emma Orczy
Happiness by Mathieu Ricard

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