Zero Stars. Review, 'Ole Doc Methuselah'
Preview to the Actual Review.
There are several obstacles a reviewer must hurtle before she or he may write a fair review of a Hubbard book. The reviewer must take the book on its own merits (or lack of merit), and ignore what she or he knows about the author--- taking the book as it presents itself regardless of the criminal and unsavory nature of the author is only fair to the book and to the readers of the review.
The author of this book was the father of the international organized crime syndicate called 'Scientology,' and the book itself was published by a front group of that sinister, criminal business. This fact colors and biases the opinions of most reviewers of Hubbard's books, and a reviewer with a knowledge of Hubbard's background and history must always fight to ignore those biases when reviewing his books: a task that a few reviewers may not be able to achieve. The fact that L. Hubbard was a hateful, spiteful sociopath who hurt hundreds of thousands of people is only worthy of mentioning in passing in a book review as a point of interest to the reader of the review: it must not bias the reviewer. I therefore have taken myself to task to avoid what I know about Hubbard and his sinister history, and concentrate only on this, his book 'Ole Doc Methuselah.'
Yes, it is true that other than the fraudulent 'self-help' book _Dianetics_ Hubbard never wrote a legitimate best seller; yes, it is also true that Hubbard never made a living writing westerns and science fiction; it must also be said that it is also true that every now and then Hubbard had produced some good writing or at least a good idea now and then, though it appears to have been very far and few between, flooded and washed away by the poor-to-mediocre bulk of his work.
When Mister Hubbard started writing westerns and science fiction, he had a small following of fans; for the most
part, his writing was rightfully "unappreciated" when he was alive, and remains unread here in the present. One does not find Hubbard's work in anthologies, nor reprinted in magazines nor other contemporary publications. This is because by most standards, Hubbard's work was very much below par in the two fields: at the time he wrote, the field only had 'room' for material that was better than average--- mostly due to the fact that book shelf space was very small for such books, and science fiction magazines could not afford to buy mediocre material. If it was not for the Scientology front group 'Bridge Publications,' Hubbard's westerns and science fiction would have long ago vanished utterly from the printed word. 'Bridge Publications' prints these books at a loss since very few people buy them: it is a 'labor of love' for them. _Time_ Magazine also noted that 'Bridge Publications' buys its own books in bulk and then sends them back to the book stores, to give the illusion that people actually buy their books.
Late in Hubbard's life he tried to go back to writing science fiction, but he never achieved even the mediocre status he once had during the 'golden age of science fiction.' While the shelf space in book stores for science fiction had by then greatly increased, he remained unread up to (and beyond) the day he died. His book 'Battlefield Earth' was well below mediocre, and never sold well until 'Bridge
Publications' started buying and reselling the book themselves (they later gave themselves a 'best seller' award for the book). Hubbard's dream of becoming a recognized and appreciated writer never was realized. Hubbard died while hiding from USA law enforcement, a raving psychotic who was doped up on anti-psychotic drugs. If it were not for all the people he injured, killed, and swindled, he would have been an object of pity.
I received my hard-bound copy of 'Ole Doc Methuselah' from a seller on the auction web site 'Ebay' brand new and never read, for US$2.00 with a postage fee of US$1.65 and this appears to be average for Hubbard's books: people will sell them for almost nothing. If you are looking to buy a copy of this book, you may wish to look in used book stores or in the 'bargain bin' in new book stores.
First off, this book is more accurately titled 'science fantasy' than 'science fiction.' It deals with the hackneyed
thesis /antithesis of 'good versus evil,' with the main character being on the side of 'good.'
Secondly, the introduction to the book claims, falsely, that Hubbard was a "well respected" author, and that Hubbard had written "best sellers." These claims are false. The introduction is pure propaganda out of the sinister Scientology organization's propaganda mill: while the introduction portrays Hubbard as some kind of literary genius, that portrayal is a lie. At his best, Hubbard's writing was on par with what a below-average high school student produces. Hubbard never won an award for his writing: no Hugo Award; no Nebula Award; no acclaim at all from his erstwhile "peers" in the literary world.
Thirdly, the book has a "About the Author" section which claims many accomplishments and achievements of Hubbard that are, in fact, lies. Some of the lies include Hubbard being "the youngest Eagle Scout" (which is false); Hubbard being a "blood brother" to the Blackfeet "Indians" (also false: these Native Americans have no such concept of "blood brotherhood"); Hubbard being a world-wide traveler as a teen (false: he spent a few weeks in China, and had only hateful, racist things to say about the Chinese); Hubbard studied engineering and nuclear physics (which is actually true, only he flunked both courses, and was kicked out of school); Hubbard was a "barnstormer" (false: he lost his pilot's license and didn't have an airplane); Hubbard lead "expeditions" in the Caribbean (false); Hubbard wrote screenplays (false); Hubbard spend "years of research" on his bogus, harmful "self-help" book _Dianetics_ (false: he made up the book over the span of about four weeks, totally out of his imagination); Hubbard's crappy book "Battlefield Earth" was a best seller (false); and that Hubbard was "one of the most acclaimed and widely read authors of all time (false on both counts).
I took the time to mention these facts for one reason: to show that the ONLY reason this book is still in print is as propaganda fodder for the sinister Scientology business--- if it were not for the criminal organization printing Hubbard's shoddy work, Hubbard's books would have ceased to exist 30 years ago.
To see just how bad this book is (as is all of Hubbard's writings), the best one can do is to show you. The following is a brief excerpt from 'Ole Doc Methuselah' that gives the reader a good idea of just how poorly Hubbard wrote, in fair-use:
[....] Unpigmented, four-handed and silent as space itself, Hippocrates had set himself the scattered task of remembering all the things Ole Doc always forgot. He sat now, remembering-particularly that Ole Doc had some of his own medicine to take at thirty- six o'clock-and he might have sat there that way for hours and hours, phonograph-record-wise, if a radiating pellet
hadn't come with a sharp zip past his left antenna to land with a clang on the Morgue's thick hull.
Page forty-nine of the "Tales of the Early Space Pioneers" went smoothly into operation in Hippocrates' gifted if unimaginative skull, which page translated itself into unruffled action.
He went inside and threw on "Force Field Beta" minus the Nine Hundred and Sixtieth Degree Arc, that being where Ole Doc was. Seeing that his worshipped master went on
fishing, either unwitting or uncaring, Hippocrates then served out blasters and twenty rounds to himself and went back to sit on the bottom step of the port ladder.
The big spaceship-- dented a bit, but lovely-- shimmered quietly in Procyon's inviting light and the brook rippled and Ole Doc kept casting for whatever outrageous kind of fish he might find in that stream. This went on for an hour and then two things happened. Ole Doc, unaware of the force field, cast into it and got his fly back into his hat and a young woman came stumbling, panic-stricken, across the meadow toward the Morgue.
From amongst the stalks of flowers some forty feet high emerged an Earthman, thick and dark, wearing the remains of a uniform to which had been added civil space garb. He rushed forward a dozen meters before he paused in stride at the apparition of the huge golden ship with its emblazoned crossed ray rods of pharmacy. Then he saw Ole Doc fishing and the pursuer thrust a helmet up from a contemptuous grin.
It was nearer to Ole Doc than to the ship and the girl, exhausted and disarrayed, stumbled toward him. The Earth- man swept wide and put Ole Doc exactly between himself and the ladder before he came in.
Hippocrates turned from page forty-nine to page one hundre