Mission Earth (novel) - Public Reaction - Critical Response

Critical Response

In spite of its sales success, Mission Earth was lambasted by critics, receiving many negative reviews. It is frequently cited within science fiction circles as one of the worst science fiction novels ever written. The influential The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction describes the series "whose farcical overemphases fail to disguise an overblown tale that would have been more at home in the dawn of pulp magazines." More forgiving literary critics usually cite Battlefield Earth as Hubbard's best work of the later years of his life. (i.e., better than Mission Earth, his only other later published work of fiction). Despite the overall negative response, the books carry blurbs of praise from some newspapers and well known sci-fi authors, such as Orson Scott Card and A. E. van Vogt.

The New York Times review of the first volume, The Invaders' Plan, describes it thus: "... a paralyzingly slow-moving adventure enlivened by interludes of kinky sex, sendups of effeminate homosexuals and a disregard of conventional grammar so global as to suggest a satire on the possibility of communication through language."

In L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, a survey of Hubbard's literary career, Marco Frenschkowski of the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz described the Mission Earth series:

The satire is not humorous, but biting and harsh, which makes the novels not easy to read. Also Hubbard somehow had lost contact with developing narrative techniques: he writes exactly as he had done 40 years earlier. When read as entertainment Mission Earth is disappointing: it does not entertain. Many of the scenes (especially some sexual encounters) are incredibly grotesque, not in a pornographic sense, but they are violently aggressive about modern American ideals. The Mission Earth novels on the whole are a subversive, harsh, poignant attack on American society in the 1980s. As such they have so far received almost no attention, which perhaps they do deserve a bit more. They also have some quite interesting characters, especially when read with a deconstructionist approach. These 11 later novels by Hubbard are not Scientology propaganda literature, but have some topics in common, especially the very strong opposition against 20th century psychology and psychiatry, which is seen as a major source of evil. All open allusions to Scientology are strictly avoided. They are not as successful in their use of suspense and humour as Hubbard's early tales, but have to say perhaps more about the complex personality of their author.

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