Battlefield Earth

In 1980, before I was involved in Scientology, LRH began writing a work of “pure science fiction” which came out as Battlefield Earth. It was published in 1982, and after I joined the Sea Org I bought a copy and read it. Later, I lost that copy, but recently purchased another one, also a First Edition. This one comes wrapped in a leather cover, reminiscent of those used by the hero to hold the books he found that helped him recover the Earth for human habitation.

I more recently ordered the audio book (which is unabridged and 44 CDs long!) and have started “re-reading” it in that fashion. It’s a great job, though I don’t know who’s going to sit through 47 and 1/2 hours of CDs to listen to the whole story. But it is a good story, and I am going through it again to pick any important points I missed or am uncertain about.

Some points I do remember:

Earth is plagued by the genocidal presence of an off-world inter-galactic mining company, run from its home planet of “Psychlo.” Almost everyone from Psychlo lacks compassion, and is therefore basically psychotic. They will kill any other life form without remorse, even each other. Later in the story, it is discovered that this trait is installed at birth in the form of some sort of electronic implant. One Psychlo who escaped being implanted helps the hero discover this.

Hubbard gives the Psychlos a huge Achilles Heel; their atmosphere explodes in the presence of ionizing radiation. This is real science fiction; I don’t know of any real planet or civilization where the biology is that different. All I’ve ever heard of is carbon-oxygen based biology. There are some non-biological life forms. More than likely, they predate biology.

Working with this notable Psychlo weakness, along with their normal “human” foibles, the hero finds a way to blackmail them into backing off Earth, and leaving the rest of the universe alone as well. The success in bringing peace to the cosmos is notable and worth studying. Real criminality is a problem everywhere, and there are clues here that might help us conquer it.

The book, in its second half, includes some major space battles. On the web I have noticed some references to similar events in nearby space. Again, the future of planets and great issues of war and peace are at stake in this current set of events.

It used to be that science fiction was seen as an indirect way to communicate about real Earthly situations. That view no longer holds. The “stage” has widened; it now includes the entire cosmos.

Bill Tompkins in his book mentioned several times that he had become convinced that Teddy Roosevelt was right: That to go far, one must speak softly, but carry a big stick. Though Roosevelt attributed the proverb to West Africa, there has been difficulty tracing it to there, as their own lore has been oral, and Western study of it has been spotty. But time and time again, thinkers come to the conclusion that any “peace” is held together by the carefully targeted threat of overpowering force. In the movie (and book) “The Mouse that Roared,” peace is brought to Europe by instilling the belief that if anyone starts a war, a bomb will go off which will eradicate the entire subcontinent. And in Battlefield Earth, peace is won in a similar way.

This seems to be one of many paradoxes that we must live with.

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