26.11.06

Don't believe in Science Fiction.

When I was in fifth grade, I used to go to the local library about once a week. It was an incredibly tiny building near the elementary school, and had only one room full of books. Each time I went there, I would head straight to the back of the building, where a lone shelf held the library's science fiction section. I had no real interest in reading anything else at all at that point, except for Dungeons and Dragons books that the library didn't carry.

My grandma was visiting one weekend and offered to take me to the library. Always anxious to feed my head with tales of interplanetary adventures, I happily agreed. As usual, when we got there, I perused the science fiction shelf. On this particular day, I couldn't seem to find anything particularly interesting, save a series of books that looked like it would be an undertaking to read in their entirety. The books were thick, heavy tomes, and there were a lot of them, enough to fill up an entire row of shelving. I had always noticed them, but had never felt up to the task of reading the whole thing. Since I couldn't find anything else to read, I decided I may as well give it a shot. I figured if it was good, it would be something to keep me entertained for a long time. I checked out the first book in the series.

On the ride back home, my grandma looked at the book sitting in my lap, and began to tell me about how the book wasn't true.

"It's just somebody's opinion," she said, "and you shouldn't believe it."

"I know," I said, wondering why she would think that I would take science fiction as fact. She talked for a while longer about how some people believe things that aren't true, and that I should never believe something just because I read it in a book.

I didn't realize until years later that the reason she was probably telling me not to believe what I read in that book was because she recognized the name of the author. At the time, I didn't know that L. Ron Hubbard was anything other than a science fiction writer. My grandmother, a very deeply religious woman, had probably read warnings about Hubbard's money-making cult, Scientology, and wanted to make sure I didn't end up believing in it. The irony is that many years later, she would send me a Christian inspirational novel in an effort to win me over to Jesus. Too bad I was taught not to believe everything I read.

I didn't read more than 30 pages of the book I checked out. It turned out that despite being able to write a series that filled up a whole shelf, L. Ron Hubbard just wasn't a very good science fiction writer.

5 comments:

Doug said...

Well, maybe he's not a very good science fiction writer, but he sure can make one hell of a cult following.

Liz said...

old people are so silly

Orhan Kahn said...

At first I thought your grandmother was being a bastard -- totally didn't see the Scientologly angle coming. Super twist.

Beau said...

L. RON HOOVER:
Welcome to the First Church of Appliantology!

The WHITE ZONE is for loading and unloading only!

Kid said...
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