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One Was Stubborn
L. Ron Hubbard
Multicast performance, unabridged
Galaxy Press, 2 hours

L. Ron Hubbard
Lafayette Ron Hubbard was born March 13, 1911, in Tilden, Nebraska and died January 14, 1986 in San Luis Obispo, CA. In the 1930s and 40s, he produced a large number of westerns and science fiction stories and novels, some under the pen-name René Lafayette. Among these, some were well regarded, including the fantasy Slaves of Sleep (1939), the novel Typewriter in the Sky, the well-regarded militaristic post-apocalyptic novel Final Blackout (1940), and the horror novel Fear (1940). In 1950, he published Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, and in 1954 he founded the Church of Scientology to promote his "applied religious philosophy." Between 1954 and the early 80s, Hubbard published no further science fiction or fantasy. His Battlefield Earth was published in 1982 and eventually spawned the movie of the same name. The ten part ultra-pulpish Mission Earth series was published largely posthumously, and as with Battlefield Earth received rather poor reviews. Further biographical information can be found on the official L. Ron Hubbard website and in Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard by Russell Miller -- I'll let you decide what to believe.

Publisher's website
SF Site Review: When Shadows Fall
SF Site Review: Danger in the Dark
SF Site Review: To the Stars
BOOK REVIEW: To the Stars: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Gil T. Wilson

One Was Stubborn Galaxy Audio has gathered all the short stories and novellas written by L. Ron Hubbard during the 30s through the 50s and have been releasing them as audiobooks. There are also paperback "pulp" versions for those who prefer print rather than audio. This audiobook is a collection of three stories from the golden age of pulp fiction.

  "One Was Stubborn" was originally published in Unknown Fantasy Fiction, October 1940, under the pseudonym Rene La Fayette. It is a simple tale of a man unwilling to watch the world as he knows it vanish. The main character, Old Shellback, is the most stubborn man in the universe. When he goes in for an eye exam, the doctor's computer says he's depressed and should see the new Messiah that is changing the world. Old Shellback simply wants glasses because he can't believe what he is seeing. 

  The second story was published in Astounding Science Fiction in December 1949.  "A Can of Vacuum" is a fun story about practical jokes. This one brought out some memories of my Navy days. When someone was new to a ship, the old salts would have fun with the newbie by sending them on errands that were basically practical jokes. Errands like fetching a bucket of relative bearing grease. All bearings need grease, but in the Navy a "relative bearing" is the location of an object in relation to yourself or the ship. Or maybe send the newbie after three feet of water line. The navy term "line" refers to rope or string, but the waterline is the place on the hull of a ship to where the water level has risen. Well, in this story a new ensign assigned to a space station is sent to gather a quart of Rudy Rays. The chief that sends him on this fool's errand is surprised when he finds the ensign blasting off into space.  Soon the rocket is lost and the chief is in trouble for sending the young man out alone as a practical joke. But the ensign comes back, and therein lies the surprise.

  "240,000 Miles Straight Up" is the final story, which was published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, December 1948. It tells the tale of the importance of the USA being the first to land on the moon.  After partying on the night before, he is to be the first man on the moon, First Lieutenant Cannon "Angel" Gray wakes up with a killer of a hangover. Just as the rocket is about to launch, the ground crew look up at the moon and see the letters "USSR" written on the moon. The USA is not the first on the moon -- it's the Russians! This closes down the US space program and soon the Russkies have nuclear missiles on the moon, aimed at the earth. The USSR is then overthrown by the Commander on the moon and soon he's calling himself the ruler of Earth. When some supplies are needed, Angel is called to man a mission to the moon to possibly overthrow the leader. Can the USA regain power? Listen to this exciting tale and find out.

  The voice acting in these stories carries the sound of the old-fashioned radio shows with larger-than-life characters. This reflects the writing style that Hubbard used when writing for the pulps. The characters and their dialogue may at first seem cheesy but when taken as a whole, some of the stories just wouldn't work without that cheese factor. It's what makes these stories fun, so don't think of this over-the-top treatment as a bad thing -- in fact, it's quite the opposite.

  The incidental music that occurs between chapters or sections in the story was composed specifically for the entire run of Golden Age Stories from Galaxy Audio.  The music is both over-the-top and subtle at the same time, creating a nice balance for these stories. The sound effects are subtly placed throughout the stories. They don't overwhelm the listener with sound but they move the story along. For example, I appreciated hearing a rocket blasting off without the sound effects detracting from the dialogue or narration.

  Every time I listen to one of these pulp fiction stories I get so lost in the story that I forget where I am. I was driving around while listening to this book and completely forgot where I was supposed to be going. The audio production in these audiobooks is superb. Everything from the acting, the incidental music and the sound effects are perfectly produced.

Copyright © 2010 Gil T. Wilson

Gil T. has spent a quarter of a century working in radio and has lots of spare time on his hands and reading or listening to books takes up all that time. Check out his blog to find out what he's up to at any given moment.

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