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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Discussing Published Hooks & Books » Battlefield Earth

   
Author Topic: Battlefield Earth
Crystal Stevens
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It took me forever, but I finally finished reading "Battlefield Earth" by L. Ron Hubbard. All 1050 pages worth. I must admit it started out as a fascinating read and then went downhill a little over halfway through. A major portion of this book was "telling", which I feel bogged it down the farther I got into it. It got very predictable, and I feel there were too many places where Hubbard explained things that weren't necessary to carry the story. He let us get to know Jonnie and Terl and then still explained their actions (Terl in particular) that were completely obvious from what I'd already read.

I found the conflict between Jonnie and Terl interesting, but once Hubbard got past that, the story went downhill fast. He got away from character relationships--of which there were plenty--and did a lot of telling about mechanical things and galactic banking of all things. It read more like a documentary than an exciting, fast-paced science fiction story. Reading about high-tech mechanics and financial problems on a galactic scale almost put me to sleep.

Another item that bothered me was when a problem was discovered with the Phyclos involving a brain implant that dominated their behavior. That I didn't mind, but then they left this problem unsolved for a couple hundred pages before returning to it and solving the problem... almost like an after thought. To me, leaving it for that long a time made the problem feel unimportant. And then, near the end of the book, the problem reared up its head along with a solution.

I realize this book was a very long read, and that Hubbard had to find a way to squeeze all this information into one book, but all that "telling" made for a very tedious read. I think he would've been better off to have written it as a trilogy and gotten away from so much "telling". A good third of it (or more) was like reading a text book than the science fiction adventure story I expected.

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LDWriter2
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Even though there are criticisms about the writing I would agree with, one I didn't mind so much was the Telling.

Maybe because I've read some of the Masters who wrote back when readers liked narrative writing, or because I'm easy when it comes to writing-maybe that's why I have so much problems with Tell and Show-but I can enjoy a story with lots of Tell.

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Robert Nowall
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Never got around to reading it---not because of that whole Scientology thing, because L. Ron Hubbard was one hell of a good writer in his day and I picked up several of his older works, like Fear or Final Blackout, as they were reprinted---but the reviews and descriptions of the content kind of put me off. (That dreadful movie version with John Travolta, which I watched part of while flipping through channels, didn't make me want to run and pick it up.)

Maybe Battlefield Earth was okay, maybe it wasn't, but I had a lot of other books to read in that era, and still do...

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Crystal Stevens
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The copy I read of BE was published in the 1990s. At that time, the ads in the book said Hubbard had 16 New York Times best sellers in a row. I'm betting that's something of a record. Yes, he was an incredible writer in his day and considered a master of science fiction.
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