Mitt Romney: As Happy as a Baby Psychlo on a Straight Diet of Kerbango

Reporters who ask politicians fluff questions like "what's your favorite novel?" rarely get answers like this.

When asked his favorite novel in an interview shown yesterday on the Fox News Channel, Mitt Romney pointed to “Battlefield Earth,” a novel by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. That book was turned into a film by John Travolta, a Scientologist.

A spokesman said later it was one of Mr. Romney’s favorite novels.

“I’m not in favor of his religion by any means,” Mr. Romney, a Mormon, said. “But he wrote a book called ‘Battlefield Earth’ that was a very fun science-fiction book.

No, that isn't true. Battlefield Earth is awful. Nobody reads that book except Scientologists and smartasses who want to giggle at Scientologists, and even they start to cash out by the 7000th page or so.

If we surmise that politicians are always sending coded messages when they talk about books or movies that they like - think Bush carting around Bernard Goldberg's Bias - what's Romney's message? "So, you think Mormonism is weird?"

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  • Timothy||

    Well, you know, Mitt might need to know how to battle Xenu's thetan imprinting program, it'll be important on Kolob while he's learning to be Jesus, I'm sure.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    So, you think Mormonism is weird?

    Dave, I dunno if your theory about political posturing with books is right, but it sure is funny.

  • ||

    This is a bizarre answer from Romney, but I think people exaggerate when they say how terrible Battlefield Earth is. I read half of it when I was 13 or 14 or something, not long after it first came out, and I recall enjoying it.

  • ||

    No, that isn't true. Battlefield Earth is awful. Nobody reads that book except Scientologists and smartasses who want to giggle at Scientologists, and even they start to cash out by the 7000th page or so.

    I do hope you've actually read it. From a pulp sci-fi perspective, it's a very enjoyable yarn. It doesn't deserve a label of "classic", but it also doesn't deserve the thrashing you give it either.

  • SugarFree||

    I read this as a kid, long before I'd even heard Cruisianity, and it really gets nowhere near being the worst science fiction novel ever written. It's fairly typical of it's pulp / space opera / "humans are the best species in the universe" origins. It has an extremely stupid plot and and resolution structure, but, like I said, typical of it's sub-genre. (It also could be cut in half and loose nothing.)

    Wikipedia is curiously silent on the rumor I've heard for years... Hubbard didn't write the thing. Either a church sycophant or some well-paid SF writer swore to secrecy (and probably, at this point) desperate to keep his or her name very far away from this whole mess.

  • ||

    I guess I'm one of the few who liked the book. Yep, just me and the Kirkus review, the Baltimore Sun and Robert Heinlein.

  • ||

    Longtime hard SF fan, and I enjoyed Battlefield Earth. I read it when i was younger and didn't know much about scientology and didn't see the obvious symbolism there (Psychlos were villians, duh). But Hubbard was a fine space opera writer from the days of the pulps, and being hopped up on goofballs all the time was an asset for writing that kind of SF.

  • ||

    Harlan Ellison was a friend and fan of Hubbard, but I'm not sure what he thought of Battlefield Earth.

  • ||

    Harlan Ellison was a friend and fan of Hubbard, but I'm not sure what he thought of Battlefield Earth

    you're assuming Harlan likes anything
    ;)

  • ||

    He didn't care for these guys; scroll down to "Mr. Ellison" and on from there it goes.

    And Battlefield Earth wasn't nearly as bad as The Cat Who Walks Through Walls.

  • ||

    Even if it isn't the worst science fiction novel of all time, it is still a strange answer knowing everyone would read into it.

    By now these guys should have picked out answers to all of the threadbare questions such as favorite novel, favorite philosopher, moral leader, favorite movie, favorite food, etc.

    Either he actually thought about it in advance and came up with Battlefield Earth, or he didn't think about in advance and therefore isn't fully prepared for the campaign trail yet.

    (discalimer - I kinda like Romney)

  • ||

    Some troll takes a cheap shot at Atlas Shrugged as being a poorly-written sci-fi novel lauded among a group of cultists in 5...4...3..

  • Marc||

    Me too! I mean, I liked it. As a teenager. It's pulp, and therefore not great, but nevertheless fun.

    Jeez, it shouldn't be surprising that a guy who starts a successful religion based on aliens and volcanoes might be able to make up an entertaining story.

  • ||

    Battlefield earth was a fine novel. It is sort of a cross between Raider's of the Lost Ark and Star Wars. If it had any other author's name on the cover it would never had received the few bad reviews that it did.

  • ||

    Come on, it's clearly a coded appeal to Scientologists.

    Mormons and Scientologists: Together, they can take over THE WORLD!

    (knock on the door - two neatly dressed young men wait on the steps)
    "Yes?"
    "Hi Ma'am. Can we talk to you about the Mormon Church and/or a Personality Test and Body Thetan rundown?"

  • ||

    And Battlefield Earth wasn't nearly as bad as The Cat Who Walks Through Walls

    ouch. c'mon, heinlein was ancient and out of ideas by then

  • Terl||

    The leverage, which Romney once had, now belongs to his opponents.

  • World B Free||

    And they call libertarians "kooks".

  • Cheap Shewtin\' Troll||

    BRRAATH BARG! FRAG BORG A DING DONG!!!!!

    AYN RAND. CULTIST. BAD SCIENCE FICTION WHERE ARE THE CHEETOS GRANDMA MAKING ME CLEAN UP DOWN HERE NO MORE DISHES UPSTAIRS SMELL OF CURDLED MILK IN DISCARDED COFFEE OVERPOWERING MUFFY

    BAD SCI FI. HOW IS THAT WORSE? POORLY WRITTEN! HEAVY HANDED BUT INCOMPREHENSIBLE!

    AYNRANDAYNRAND.

    LAUD LAUD LAUD. CULT CULT CULT. HAPPY THAT THE "L" AND "N" ARE FAR APART ON KEYBOARD.

    NO PINKIES. ARGHHHHH! BRONK BRONK!

  • Lichtenberg||

    You got to hand it to the man. When he's already under the cloud of being a member of a kooky religion, to knowlingly--however tenuously--associate himself with an even kookier one, takes brass balls.

  • ||

    I read BE some time ago, and lost the damn book with about 100 pages left. While I don't recall any specifics, I remember thinking it was ok. Not good, by any means, but involving enough to keep me entertained. Then again, I didn't bother to track down another copy so that I could finish it, so it couldn't have been that spectacular.

  • Lichtenberg||

    Oh dear God! Not only can't I spell, but I just split an infinitive like never before. My high school English teacher just committed suicide.

  • ||

    ...and out of ideas...

    and it was so sad to watch...

    But really, as much defense as B.E. is getting here, how could it be someone's favorite book? I'll defend it as a space opera, but it wasn't by any means a great novel.

  • SugarFree||

    It makes sense he would pick a SF novel. The Mormon / SF link is well established, but you'd think he would have gone with Orson Scott Card. (Recently voted "Defender of the Faith" and Official Apologist of LDS.)

    Of course, if you already believe a guy read gold plates with magical stones under a blanket... well, let's just say credulity is built right in...

  • ||

    VM,

    Tell me truthfully--you're upset that highnumber jumped on the Urkobold bandwagon first ☺

    I've never read Hubbard, but I've always understood that he was an okay pulp writer. There are worse things in the world. I suppose that I should read him as a science fiction fan and as someone who works within ten miles of Downtown Scientology.

    As for Romney, that's such a surreal and weird response that I almost feel compelled to vote for him. I mean, PBS is about to air a major program called Aren't Mormons Creepy?, which is precisely the time a calculating politician would avoid any statement that could be remotely construed as odd--religion-wise, anyway.

  • Lichtenberg||

    Rich Ard

    I can't actually see how someone in Romney's career field could love a book like that. When you spend every waking minute eating and breathing politics/economics/social policy/business/"serious stuff", a bit of purely escapist pulp might really be welcome.

  • Lichtenberg||

    Dammit! Spelling again! I meant I CAN see how...

  • David Ross||

    Romney just shot up a few more notches in my esteem. As his next fuck-you to the Mormon-haters, I suggest he get remarried to his wife in one of Reverend Moon's mass ceremonies, and do some Falun Dafa exercises in front of the cameras.

    As for B.E., I haven't read it. But if we are allowing this thread to branch into the.worst.SF.evar then I nominate The Broken Land by Ian Mcdonald. Overly stylised prose; overtly allegorical setting; awful plot. It reminds me of a SF story I wrote when I was 15, trying to prove that I had a social conscience. I'll take pulp over overwrought awareness-raising wankery any day.

  • Marc||

    Number 6,

    He sends up an atomic bond to the mothership, which was pretty cool. Blammo! Now you can sleep easy.

  • GILMORE||

    "Rich Ard | May 1, 2007, 10:29am | #..."

    Rich Ard gets it right... so what if it's not the *worst* science fiction anyones read? For Xenu's sake, he could have actually lied and said like, 'For Whom The Bell Tolls', or something suitably high-school english class apropos. Nothing too fancy, like Ulysses, and nothing too baldly Americana, like...I dont know, Uncle Tom's Cabin or Moby Dick. But to pick, out of all of the literature on earth, L RON HUBBARD, is a cry for help. Or a coded message to his followers to prepare for the Takeover of the planet. It does nothing to burnish his image as a Deep Guy.

  • Marc||

    The worst ever SF ever is The Dispossessed.

    To summarize:
    Scientist lives on anarcho-communist moon, which sucks, but we're supposed to admire it anyway. He invents warp drive or something. Some completely forgettable stuff happens. He goes open-source. The End.

    Thank you for sucking away those hours of my life, Ursula K Le Guin.

  • ||

    But really, as much defense as B.E. is getting here, how could it be someone's favorite book? I'll defend it as a space opera, but it wasn't by any means a great novel.

    Oh, come on now. Quite frequently, people read novels simply for escapism, and pulp novels excel at that. Do you really think that there's a bunch of people out their claiming that Ulysses is their favorite novel? No, they'll all say The Stand or A Time To Kill or some Jackie Collins book.

  • Untermensch||

    And just how much will this statement matter outside of hardcore blog readers? I'm really curious. I doubt any but the most faithful avid readers of this and similar blogs will ever hear about it. Maybe I'm wrong, but time after time I read H&R commenters saying that politician X has really put his/her foot in it this time and killed his/her chances of winning (think Obama and violence), only to find out that, get this, nobody else in the world (except those on similar blogs) cares a rat's rectum about whatever was so stupid that it killed the candidate.

    Maybe this is different, but we tend to get a lot of tempests in teapots here.

  • Untermensch||

    And yes, I realize by posting, I'm part of that tempest and that I should just go do whatever I'm supposed to be doing...

  • Untermensch||

    And no, I'm not going to vote for Romney...

  • SugarFree||

    Worst Evar? It's probably something only a few people read, but worst I ever read?

    The Female Man by Joanna Russ. May none of you poor bastards have to go through what I did.

  • ||

    I haven't read BE, but it can't be as bad as Shatner's Tek novels.

    It also can't possibly be as bad as the movie version, which I'm pretty sure was the worst movie ever.

    I remember Ebert had a great line about it, something to the effect of "50 years from now, somebody will make a really bad movie and a reviewer will write that it's almost as bad as Battlefield Earth."

  • ||

    Marc,

    But she also wrote The Left Hand of Darkness and The Lathe of Heaven, which are not a waste of time. Better to be a good author with some bad books, than a bad author all of the time.

    I've been reading Bester's stuff recently. The best-known books are, in fact, his best work, but he's always interesting.

  • Fluffy||

    I read Battlefield Earth and liked it in a "cheesy period sci fi" sort of way.

    But what I couldn't stop thinking while reading it was that if Hubbard had this pipeline to universal knowledge, why was the "sci" in BE so darn awful?

    You'd figure he would have great insight into the workings of the universe, since he's supposed to be god and all.

  • B||

    I kind of like the fact that the guy answered the question with the first book that came to his mind that he really enjoyed. It *has* to be an honest answer, b/c it couldn't possibly have been a calculated one.

    I imagine most of the big candidates have a calculated and market-tested answer to that question at the ready (and if they didn't before, they almost certainly do now). Hell, I don't think I would have answered that question in a way that wasn't self-serving, and I'm not even in politics.

  • Rhywun||

    Scientist lives on anarcho-communist moon, which sucks, but we're supposed to admire it anyway.

    Apparently you didn't read the book very carefully if that's what you came away with.

  • ||

    Thanks, Brian24. I had successfully purged the Tek series from my brain and now it's back. The worst part about Tek was that the short-run TV show based on it was actually half-decent. So I picked up the first book and it sucked. I gave the second book a good 30 pages, realized it wasn't any better, and set it on fire.

    I also don't understand the cult-hero status of Arthur C. Clarke. In my limited experience (2 books) he's very heavy on the "sci" and very light on the "plot or characters or explanation as to what the hell is going on."

  • ||

    PL,

    I'm working on my second collection of Bester short stories, and I agree with you that Bester is very interesting. Both The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination are in my top 10 favorite books ever.

  • ||

    Legate Damar,

    Clarke has been working on a trilogy with Stephen Baxter that is quite excellent. Only the first two parts have been published, but it's some of the best work from both of them.

  • Marc||

    Pro Libertate,

    I don't know... she's really ruined me. Although she did write that nifty anti-utilitarian short story, so I know she is capable of not wasting my time.

    Rhywun,

    Maybe I didn't, and I admit I need to be hit over the head on occasion. Feel free to enlighten me, apparent-Welshperson -- I'd love to discover retroactively that it wasn't all in vain.

  • ||

    Anyone here read Subspace Encounters by E.E. "Doc" Smith? If you want to see what happens when Ayn Rand gets interpreted by a space-opera writer....

    Yeah, I know Smith clunks. But he's fun. What I enjoy about his books (and Clarke's, and a lot of the Golden Age writers) is the atmosphere they carried around with themselves--that the Universe was understandable, made sense, and that by using one's brain and effort, Things Could Get Done. Smith also put a lot of his own business and engineering experience into his books. "First Lensman" has a lot of really good advice on how to do management, believe it or not.

    Now we're sitting in a field of religious believers whose idea to handle problems is wring their hands together and pray to a deity, and an administration that believes idealism takes precedence over reality.

  • Rhywun||

    I can't believe so many here have actually read the thing (Battlefield Earth). When I found out the writer was also the famous founder of a bullshit pyramid scheme/creepy cult, oh, around 20 years ago, that was enough to ensure I would never read it.

    Legate Damar,

    Check out "The City and the Stars". Light on characterization as always, but some great ideas in that book. I also really enjoy "Imperial Earth" - it's a little more light-hearted at times than his earlier stuff.

    jf,

    What is this Clarke/Baxter trilogy?? I've read tons of Baxter and I keep going back even though I have no idea what the hell is happening in most of his books. The Manifold series comes to mind.

  • ||

    'The Female Man by Joanna Russ. May none of you poor bastards have to go through what I did."

    That reminds me of a sci-fi novel I read as a kid, the title of which escapes me at the moment.

    The premise was that scientists come up with a cure for AIDS by monkeying with chromosomes, but the downside is that while the person is immune to AIDS, they now go through a phase every so often where they change gender.

    The only other detail I can remember is that the protagonist's name was Troy Dos Caros or something similar.

  • ||

    jf,

    Great books, no doubt. I just read The Demolished Man earlier this year--awesome. He comes at things from such an unusual angle, and he really explores the implications of whatever weirdness is central to his tale (like telepathy).

    The Stars My Destination is also great, though I had initially thought that I liked it for its unique retelling of another favorite, Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo.

    Legate Damar (A Hero to His People),

    Clarke has some good books. I really like Childhood's End, which may be his best book. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.

    Another book that it seems no one has read is Cliff Simak's Way Station, which I really enjoyed.

  • VM||

    ProGlib -

    *snif* it's not that as much as that he took my favorite blankey and didn't give it back.

    hey sailor!

  • ||

    Rhywun,

    It's the Time Odyssey series.

    I thought the Manifold series was a pretty good look at three possible solutions to Fermi's Paradox.

  • Lichtenberg||

    This has become way too geeky for me. I lost you all at Le Guin. And all I know about Clarke is that his novelization of 2001 spoiled the story by explaining every goddamned thing.

  • David Ross||

    I read more than my share of Clarke, mostly because my dad liked his work.

    Clarke seemed on the verge of starting new religions himself with his overrated "2001" series and also "Childhood's End". His later "Songs of Distant Earth" and the TIME magazine shortstory "Hammer of God" featured some of the smuggest characters and the most ignorant PC ruminations ("Chrislam") this side of the Duke University faculty.

    Clarke was not as bad as Mcdonald, and he was bad in a different way, but he was still wretched. As best I can tell, the average Clarke reader maintained close ties to the university system, had a passing interest in SF, and had a greater interest in having his/her own prejudices validated.

  • SugarFree||

    mediageek,

    My googling fails, but you might recognize the title from this list (if you care that is...)

    I wish Female Man was half as interesting. It's basically a long, angry feminist screech. It has a heavy air of "I'm going to show up those horrible male SF writers!"

    There are fine women SF writers, and then is even some fine feminist SF, but that book is man-hating piffle. (Now you get into the feminist backlash SF and there are some really bad books, but at work I'm away from my bookshelf and the titles escape me...)

  • Chucklehead||

    I also don't understand the cult-hero status of Arthur C. Clarke.

    Heh, I like Clarke, but feel that way towards Asimov. Especially the Foundation series. Started that damn thing four times and can never make it more than a quarter of the way through it.

  • Dave Weigel||

    Heh, I like Clarke, but feel that way towards Asimov. Especially the Foundation series.

    The Foundation books are only interesting when they're a retelling of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. When they stop being that around page 2 of Foundation's Edge, they're crap.

  • ||

    The best Sci-Fi novel I've ever read was "Dune."

  • Guy Montag||

    Well, since Andrew Stuttaford had almost the same impression of that book as you I will resist adding it to the need-to-read pile.

  • highnumber||

    I'm working on my second collection of Bester short stories...

    I believe the word is "Betterer" or "Bestest."

    Jeez, ain't you people never learnt English?

  • Guy Montag||

    I need to go back and pick up on anything Sci-Fi published by Clarke since I graduated high school (read everything he had published up until then) and rummage around for any Science books by Azimov that I missed since then.

    Perhaps my trip to the Orient will allow me to collect all of the hardbound works of both.

  • David Ross||

    realist: re- "Clarke's ... atmosphere they carried around with themselves--that the Universe was understandable, made sense, and that by using one's brain and effort, Things Could Get Done"

    "Hammer of God" is a good example of the above. I don't complain with the can-do aspect of such work; Heinlein has it too. But you're leaving "things could get done" in the passive voice.

    For Clarke, those who Get Things Done are technocrats like Clarke, with a paternalistic view of their ignorant fellow citizens. These yokels can't be trusted to Get Things Done in their own way. That requires that their betters (e.g.) discover how to apply chaos theory to economics, and rig up computers to goof with the world's stock exchanges - bringing about the end of "capitalism" (which, to Clarke, is an economic cult on the flip side of communism, not an expression of freedom and property-rights).

    I'd actually like one of our Singularity authors to write a story based on what would really happen when a cell of Clarke-reading nerds hits the world economy For Its Own Good.

  • GILMORE||

    "Brian24 | May 1, 2007, 10:53am | #
    It also can't possibly be as bad as the movie version, which I'm pretty sure was the worst movie ever.


    A friend of mine who's a comedy writer (former head writer for letterman) got tickets to the PREMIERE of battlefield earth in Las Vegas

    we got really really fucked up and went. Tuxes etc. my buddy fell asleep immediately. I started cheering every time there was a horizontal wipe (every scene), and someone came over to tell me to stop.

    It was the best. I laughed and laughed. It was so bad it actually was fun. Kind of like Whats Up Tiger Lilly. Plumbing the depths of dumb.

  • ||

    Rhywun,

    When I found out the writer was also the famous founder of a bullshit pyramid scheme/creepy cult, oh, around 20 years ago, that was enough to ensure I would never read it.

    Funny, that's what convinced me to buy some of his books - anyone who can start a religion on a dare has to be able to spin a decent yarn.

    Dave,

    The Foundation books are only interesting when they're a retelling of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire...they're crap.

    You shut your goddamn mouth!

  • Guy Montag||

    I'd actually like one of our Singularity authors to write a story based on what would really happen when a cell of Clarke-reading nerds hits the world economy For Its Own Good.

    Is it similar to Fight Club?

  • ||

    joe,

    Oh, yeah, Dune rules. For a Herbert sleeper that's interesting, though somewhat odd at times, try The White Plague. It should appeal to your Irishness, incidentally.

    Dave,

    That's a bit harsh. I agree that the original Foundation stories were much better than the later ones, but I still thought the later books were okay reading. I wish he'd avoided the temptation to merge universes, though, which I think weakened his narrative(s). In any event, Foundation, etc. and Caves of Steel, etc. are among my most re-read books.

  • ||

    I've actually read The White Plague, P.L.

    Have you read any of the son's Dune prequels?

  • Chucklehead||

    Dammit. David Ross is making me want to go back and reread Clarke now too, to try and find these technocratic themes. I was still in high school when I read most of his stuff, and just enjoyed the stories. The last stuff I enjoyed was the Rama novels, and admittedly, Gentry Lee wrote it all while Clarke merely had final approval of the manuscripts.

  • Timothy||

    I could never get into Dune, the first 150 pages go on and on about standing there with a needle and a forcefield...literally nothing happens until you're 200 pages in...I gave up.

  • David Ross||

    Rats, I forgot about "Rendezvous With Rama". That one alone (which Lee had no part in, btw) pulls Clarke off my list of worst SF authors.

    "Rama" was a good read; and since it only had a few characters and concentrated on an alien form of life rather than on life on Earth, Clarke's biases didn't interfere with the story.

    The Infocom / IF game "Starcross" is heavily influenced by it.

  • ||

    joe,

    Did you like it? I did. Herbert did a nice job exploring the implications of a truly universal plague (well, universal for women, anyway).

    Yes, I read one of the non-Frank books. Unsatisfying, and I reject them all on the basis of that one book.

    Timothy. Stop reading this thread and go attempt Dune again. Now.

  • SugarFree||

    joe,

    I've read the first Dune prequel. It was like sticking needles in my scrotum. But, too each his own.

    If any of you have never read any Iain Banks, you should really give him a whirl. Player Of Games is a good place to start. The Culture novels are interesting in general, especially their portrayal of a post-scarcity society. They mimic the space opera format in setting, but not theme. Most of the novels boil down to conflicts within a society that can do practically anything, so its actions are limited only by its ethics.

  • Pete Guither||

    I loved Battlefield Earth (the book, not the movie). As an escapist pulp sci-fi epic, it was really quite good. It made me go out and start reading Hubbards Decalogue, which unfortunately bored me to tears. And I've got absolutely no interest in Scientology.

    It's interesting though, that there is an automatic dismissive assumption by many that Hubbard must be the worst sci-fi writer ever, because they disagree with his religion/politics. Isn't it smarter to consider that he must have had some methods of communication somewhere that were effective if he was able to influence that many people?

    Romney went up a notch in my estimation because he was actually willing to name a book that he read and enjoyed, rather than fluffing his reading prowess like most politicians.

  • ||

    I recommend Herbert's The Dosadi Experiment. Neat book.

    BE was awful. The Invaders Plan was worse. Hubbard's command of the English language was tenuous, at best. I wouldn't describe either as the 'worst', because there's unplumbed depths of licensed fiction out there, but they're not even that mythical midpoint of quality, 'good-for-pulps'.

  • ||

    "My googling fails, but you might recognize the title from this list (if you care that is...)"

    No luck. I seem to recall that the title was something kind of plain and not convoluted.

    The cover was also orange, with a painting of a guy kind of looking upward. (Yeah, that narrows it down, I'm sure.)

  • Chucklehead||

    Sugarfree,

    Agree with you on Banks's Culture. Fantastic stuff. I read Use of Weapons first, and was an immediate fan.

  • ||

    I remember liking The White Plague, but that was the mid-80s, and I couldn't drive yet. I thought the end, and the cultural transformation (Primaries, Secondaries), were interesting.

    I thought the Dune prequels were enjoyable, if only becasue they flesh out the Dune-iverse (heh) for the fans. The cause of the Baron's condition, the lives of the Guildsmen, Shaddam IV's background, even a sympathetic Harkonnen. I can't imagine anyone who isn't already a Dune fan liking them, though. Just not very good writing.

  • lunchstealer||

    Pro Lib,

    Way Station is great. I also really like City and The Goblin Reservation. Simak's sci-fi is usually really good, probably even more under-appreciated than Bester's, but watch out for his fantasy. For someone whose aliens are among the most imaginative in sci-fi, his fantasy reads like bad D&D fanfic.

    Of course, I always felt like Dune was bad D&D fanfic, or at least a crappy attempt to do LotR as dystopian sci-fi. Actually, it wasn't a really crappy attempt, I just found it too far-fetched. The characters' motivations were so plot-driven that I felt it was more a sequence of events than the acts of rational beings. There were some good bits of sci-fi in there, but overall I don't dig it.

  • SugarFree||

    joe,

    I really should have known better. I really don't like spin-off / tie-in / shared universe / prequal stuff as a rule. Star Trek / Star Wars novels especially.

    If you enjoyed it, then I'm willing to chalk most of my experience up to that. I personally can't stand the last two Dune books, esp. Chapterhouse, so I might have been burned out already.

  • ||

    joe,

    I also liked his description of the balkanization that was a result of the plague. It makes sense that locales would close their borders to avoid letting the infection spread.

    The new Dune books were not very well written, but I also don't like the explanations they give for various things (like the Baron's antipathy towards the BG). Dune was and is a masterpiece because of its complexity and because it doesn't explain every motive. It has flaws, too, but it's still a great book.

    lunchstealer,

    City is good--I read it not too long ago.

  • Timothy||

    I really liked the one Stanislaw Lem book I read...but I can't remember the title now so it must not have been THAT impressive.

  • ||

    Do thetans wear magic underwear?

  • ||

    Haven't read any Stanislaw Lem, though I did see the remake of Solaris. Not that seeing a movie means a damned thing. Poor Asimov hasn't had a single story told even remotely in line with his novels. Which is why I don't get too upset that there's been no Caves of Steel (excepting some TV thing in the 60s, I believe) or Foundation movie.

  • SugarFree||

    Timothy,

    Lem's Memoirs Found In A Bathtub? Government at its finest.

  • ed||

    I won't read any of the Dune prequels for the same reason I won't read any non-Doyle Sherlock Holmes. For a similar reason I refuse to eat Rice Dream. But the original Dune trilogy was indeed most excellent.

  • SugarFree||

    Chucklehead,

    Use of Weapons is one of the few books that disturb me every time I read it. Have you ever seen the cover to the recent UK edition? Creepy.

  • Chucklehead||

    Sugarfree,

    I can't see the image you linked to due to company image-blocking gnomes. However, I think I know what you're referring to since I bought my copy of UoW in England while on my honeymoon a few years ago. I needed some light reading for the train ride from the Cotswolds to York, and picked it up on a whim. Purple cover, black outline of a battleship, and a little white chair? Yeah... a little light reading... shit.

  • SugarFree||

    That's the one. My sister-in-law bought me a bunch of the UK editions a few years ago on a trip to London. Alternate editions of books I already have are my favorite souvenir, that and shot glasses.

    My wife asked my what was wrong after I finished it for the first time. I told her I felt like I had just been kicked in my soul.

    Have you ever heard that the original manuscript for UOW was twice as long? I really want to read it. Publish it as a Director's Cut.

  • ||

    Battlefield Earth is fun if you're a bored teenager and/or can read it with a warmed-up sense of humor. When the story starts with a tall, Aryan caveman who can kill angry bears by bashing them on the head with a "kill-club", you know what level of seriousness you're in for.

    Now, if Romney'd said A Deepness in the Sky instead, then he'd have my attention on a few levels. ;)

  • ||

    Libertarians and sci-fi threads. A match made in heaven. And no, I'm not excluding myself.

  • Chucklehead||

    Sugarfree,

    If I remember correctly, Banks's buddy Ken MacLeod (a pretty decent sci fi author himself) was the one who convinced Banks it was a good story, worth publication, if he cut it in half. I think he's also responsible for the alternate chapters.

    Eric,

    Agreed about Romney & Deepness...

  • SugarFree||

    Chucklehead,

    The alternate chapters were instead of the more complicated nested flashback structure of the original. I always imagine MacLeod picking through huge stacks and scraps of paper and putting the novel together like Ginsburg and Kerouac did for Burrough's Naked Lunch.

    I do like MacLeod, though. Newton's Wake was a fine addition to the growing Singularity SF sub-genre.

  • ||

    I had always dreaded reading the Dune prequels, suspecting that they would ruin my love of that universe. joe, you have inadvertently convinced me I was right. What was great about Frank Herbert's novels was that he frequently DIDN'T completely explain the characters' motives, and filled in just enough backstory so that you felt present in a universe with its own complete history, but were still left to wonder about its gaps.

    Incidentally, that's one of the reasons why the Star Wars prequels are so unbelievably dumb. "The Force" is kind of a cool concept when it's some kind of vague power; it's incredibly lame when it's a microbe in your blood that can be tested for. God, George Lucas is lame.

  • rarr||

    Battlefield Earth was not so bad, but Hubbard's other big attempt at sci-fi, the Mission Earth series, has to be the worst piece of writing ever produced. The first book was intriguing, though strange, but the later books were just smut-filled shells with no discernible plot.

  • ||

    Geeky pop culture recommendation time:

    For all those MST3K fans out there, check out RiffTrax feature Mike Nelson. It's a comedy MP3 commentary track that you can synch up with the movie. Reasonably priced, they got everything from Daredevil, to Star Trek V, to the first two Star Wars prequels.

    Yes, they did Battlefield Earth and it was hilarious!

    "Man-animals are soooo stupid! Bwhahahahaha!"

  • ||

    If he'd said Tropic of Cancer by Miller, Romney would have really impressed me.

  • ||

    This blog is where bearded scifiphiles go to masturbate.

  • ||

    Akira has a great recommendation, but don't forget to check out The Film Crew, which is the new venture with Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy, and Mike Nelson riffing together on movies. It looks like RiffTrax on steroids.

  • ||

    ø¿ø The thing I find most curious is the interest this little sliver of uselessness has attracted here from a man who may be our next president. Some subjects are just too shallow to dive into people. ☺

  • ||

    I agree. What a waste of time worrying about what idiot is going to be president!

  • ||

    I wish somebody had mentioned anything (which means anything) collaborated on by Jerry Pournelle & Larry Niven.

    Individually, they're mediocre, but they would make a great Oval Office team.

  • Jimmy Cracks Corn||

    When asked his favorite novel Mitt Romney pointed to "Battlefield Earth,"

    I think Mitt had to quickly think of when he actually read a book, oh yeah he was 13 and that book was BE.

  • ||

    Well if Ayn Rand can praise Mickey Spillane, I don't know why Rommney can't enjoy Battlefield Earth.

    But just what, besides the chance to print the picture of John Travolta in that preposterous makeup is the point of this? My God, Reason magazine has published plenty of "lets go to space to be rich and powerful" fantasies disguised as news articles in its history - and as the length of this thread shows, those have only pandered to its audience and publisher.

    I salute Rommney for answering the question either 1) honestly - if he did enjoy it or 2) cleverly - if he wanted to stir up the Mormon-Haters to expose themselves by proxy.

    And so, Mr. Weigel, HAVE you read the damn book - or are you making such a severe condemnation (worst book of all time? Compared to Bridges of Madison County - really?) based on knowledge, or based on a movie still?

  • ||

    You know what i really think is going on here....that Reason's English lit heavily degreed staff is a little bit pissed that someone has actually pointed out that novels are not huge accomplishments of art and culture but simply fun little fantasies intended and consumed as entertainment.

  • ||

    When asked his favorite novel Mitt Romney pointed to "Battlefield Earth,"

    I think Mitt had to quickly think of when he actually read a book, oh yeah he was 13 and that book was BE.


    Ummm not reading a novel as opposed to not reading a book in 13 years might not be a bad quality in an elected official.

    But it is telling that you can't tell the difference...so i will help you....first draw a circle on a piece of paper...a big one...now draw a small circle inside that big circle....now the big circle represents the concept of "books"...while the small circle represents "novel".....see?

    A book can be a book without being a novel.

  • Heinlein Fan||

    I think Mitt had to quickly think of when he actually read a book, oh yeah he was 13 and that book was BE.

    Oh, yes, I see that you thought about this very carefully. College valedictorians who earned their degree in English are well-known for not reading books, after all.

  • ||

    While the rest of the world asks pertinent questions of their polititians US reporters with too much air time have to dream up unimportant questions in an attempt to try and make it seem that they are getting the full story on how a candidate thinks and really feels about deep issues. Come on US you are better than this... next they will be be playing to the public by asking how many pieces of TP he uses in an attempt to make Mitt look as if he is an eccologist or not.

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