Hero Worship

Identical Twin Workshops WotF, Hubbard, and Scientology Documentary Evidence

It was clear from day one of the Writers of the Future workshop that the event revolved around two things: us, the attendants, and L. Ron Hubbard (or, as I called him in my mind before I first saw his name in print: Elrond Hubbard). That the workshop centered on us winners and finalist was obvious and logical. The central place Elrond took in the proceedings made much less sense to me. Yes, he was the founder of the contest, but making him its centerpiece seemed to contradict its purpose: to discover and enable new, upcoming writers.

In 2004, one of the items on the programme was a visit to the L. Ron Hubbard Library near our hotel on Hollywood Blvd. Here, we were shown into a room dedicated to the history of the contest: previous anthologies, pictures of previous events, and ensuing successes by previous winners and workshop attendants.

Then we were shown into a much larger room, dedicated to Mr. Hubbard, his fiction, and his life. No mention was made of the Church he founded, but both his literary achievements and his wild and wonderful life received strong spotlights. Several anecdotes were told of various heroic feats he had supposedly performed. As I remember it, there was even a biographical video shown.

Hubbard had been the most versatile and productive author of his generation, excelling in every genre he turned his hand to. He had commanded a gunship during WWII. He had tracked down and destroyed an illegal German radio station somewhere deep in Alaska. Hell, he had even fought a grizzly bare-handed, and escaped with his life. (The tale may have even been that he’d defeated the bear.) It went way beyond the usual American Hyperbole of Awesomeness. Here was a man who, in the eyes of ASI and Galaxy Press, embodied an incredible range of skills, experiences and virtues.

Frankly, all of it was rather embarassing.

It was plain to me that much of what they told us about Hubbard was greatly exaggerated, or simply untrue. I later had occasion to read some of Hubbard’s fiction, and thus learned that his literary qualities and achievements had undergone the same inflation as his biography. Even in 2004, when I still stood stunned and star-struck by everything else about the event, I listened to the Hubbard Hero Worship, and waited for it to be over as I inwardly cringed with embarassment.

At the workshop, some of the materials presented to us were penned by Hubbard. This was obvious not only from the Galaxy Press design and layout (recognizable from the large font and overdone gilding), but, after a few samples, also from the rather mediocre quality of the advice. I got the impression that the instructors were required to use this material, and felt ambivalent about it, to say the least. (I still stand in awe of the verbal diplomacy of Tim Powers, who is on record as stating that “Hubbard’s text on that stuff is certainly as valid today as when it was written”.)

At the awards gala, both Hubbard’s name and his likeness were presented very prominently, in huge banners, and in the speeches the Galaxy Press and ASI people gave. On the anthology, his name features very prominently as well, so much so, even, that Amazon lists him as primary author, instead of the editor who actually edits the anthologies.

To make a long story short: it was plain to me in 2004 and 2005 that for the people of ASI and Galaxy Press, despite the attention lavished on the participants, Writers of the Future revolves not around the winners, but around the long-dead founder of the contest. [read on…]

Identical Twin Workshops WotF, Hubbard, and Scientology Documentary Evidence


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