"Hubbard is terrifying. Truly terrifying. I once spent a week in the desert letting myself be raped by the demon Choronzon while my boy-slave muttered cantrips and applied cold-compresses to my bleeding genitals. I was fine. But Hubbard shook my hand once, and I nearly chopped it off because I felt so contaminated with evil and misery. Instead, I packed the hand in a tub of lye and wept until I could no longer feel him on me -- his skin, his virus."
Lafayette Hubbard is the guy who started up the "Scientology" religion. Doesn't he look like the kind of guy who would eat his frosted flakes from a jeweled goblet, mixed with his own semen?
Doesn't he look like the kind of guy who would have a complete collection of Voltron action figures and would set them up each day in new pornographic diorama to serve as hints to his trembling wife about what to expect from the night's impending perversions?
Soon he will be hanging out with America's kids, like the convict who has hacked the penitentiary computer to upload pictures of his "best murders" onto your daughter's FaceBook page while the guards watch, smiling and unawares:
"Ads will run on Web sites for children, and TV commercials will air on shows like the Cartoon Network's Transformers and Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants. Posters and banners, some of which show a boy reading a book, will be plastered on San Francisco subway tunnel walls, in a Philadelphia train station and at New York-area malls. Galaxy has also given free copies to teachers and librarians."
My first reaction to the news that the complete collection of Lafayette Hubbard's pulp works would be shoved into our schools and treated as "normal fun" was shock, anger, and dismay.
But wait! I am no reactionary!
I like the idea of kids getting to read pulp fiction in schools, and I applaud anyone willing to dump a million dollars into promoting literature, especially if it is written by an obvious sociopath. It is a shame that "Galaxy Press" will soon be tried and convicted by the federal government under the RICO act (they are surely one of Scientology's most obvious money-laundering fronts) but maybe it is nice to see them doing something nice (for the kids) while they are still in "business."
The Cosa Nostra has great Italian restaurants, right? Shouldn't we enjoy them when we can? Who cares if the marinara always tastes a little bit like blood?
Moreover, even though starting your own successful religion is one of the only mortal sins for a fiction writer (one of the only ways to be excommunicated from the Great Sororoternity), these books actually sound kind of good to me. I mean, I think that most people would enjoy reading them. Especially if you think about them as if they were the books that Jesus would write.
If you hold them up against those "Left Behind" books, for instance, there is really no contest:
"Red Death Over China"
American pilot John Hampton is an in-between- he stands for nothing definite, cares about nothing, and knows nothing he wants.
Owing allegiance to no nation, Hampton hires himself on as a pilot in the midst of China's civil war. On one side is Chiang Kai-shek and, on the other, the army of Mao Tse-tung- for whom he now works.
But after his gunner is killed in a dogfight, Hampton's once devil-may-care attitude starts to change. When he rescues a captain with dispatches vital to the Chinese cause, Hampton is told the tale of the Red Pagoda, a lesson of life-and-death choices. Hampton's education proves pivotal- with an immense and deciding battle set to unfold, its outcome strangely lies in his hands.
Down-on-his-luck tramp Doughface Jack has been shot while trying to escape from a cop and a train brakeman-causing him to fall from the train and crush his skull. A local doctor performs emergency surgery to save Doughface's life, patching up and stitching together the two halves of his brain and then sealing the cranium with a silver bowl.
While Doughface miraculously survives, he also acquires phenomenal mental powers: he can instantaneously heal or kill, or make the old young. Terrified of his newfound abilities, Doughface flees the university where he was being kept for examination, only to cross paths with a vengeful and beautiful woman bound to reach the ultimate seat of power-using Jack to destroy anything that gets in her way!
"The Magic Quirt"
Old Laramie, cook for the cowpunchers at the Lazy G Ranch, happens to be in the right place at the right time to stop bandits from attacking a Spanish-speaking family with Aztec roots. The family offers Laramie a silver-mounted quirt as thanks, telling him the small horsewhip will make him a big man.
Though he'd never really thought of himself as anything other than old, Laramie accepts the idea that the mysterious quirt holds special Aztec magic; in fact, he thinks, with the quirt in his hands, he's now invincible. To prove this claim, Laramie sets out on a series of adventures showing that the quirt has given him extraordinary newfound bravery and skill-or has it?
"The Iron Duke"
American arms merchant Blacky Lee is wanted by nearly every government in 1930s Europe- especially the Nazis. They want Blacky's head for selling them dud weapons, prompting his rapid (and illegal) escape across the Balkans to the kingdom of Aldoria with his business partner in tow.
Aldoria is well chosen. Years before, Blacky discovered he was the spitting image of the country's Prince Philip, learned the archduke's speaking voice and memorized the royal family tree just in case. When Blacky brazenly impersonates the leader, things go surprisingly well... that is, until he finds himself caught in the middle of a Communist plot to rig elections and take over.
The whole catalog of books is bitterly stupid and cheerfully amoral. I am intrigued. Maybe I will beat up some kid and take one from him, once they trickle down to my neighborhood.
Posted by miracle on Tue, 02 Sep 2008 17:04:38 -0400 -- permanent link