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The Professor was a Thief
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: 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

The Professor was a Thief Remember the days of the pulps? Those small magazines that printed short stories ranging from westerns to pirate adventures to science-fiction were a staple for many readers during the first half of the 20th century. I was always a fan of comic books and on occasion bought the Isaac Asimov Science Fiction monthly magazines. But the real pulps preceded comic books, with titles like Fantastic Adventures and Astounding Science Fiction. L. Ron Hubbard wrote stories that appeared in many of the pulps and now Galaxy Press is collecting those stories into audiobooks (and paperbacks) featuring 2 or 3 stories in each book. Not only are these interesting stories to read, but they are even more fun to hear.

This audiobook contains three engaging science fiction stories written in the 30s through the 50s. The title story in the collection, "The Professor was a Thief," was even adapted as a radio play for the early 50s radio program, Dimension X.

"The Professor was a Thief" is about Pop, an ace reporter who is being forced to retire from a New York newspaper. Before his retirement he is demoted to less important stories and is given a magazine article describing a physicist that has been shunned by the scientific community. His assignment is to find out the "real" story behind the professor's outrageous claims about making the shipping industry almost otherworldly.

While visiting the eccentric professor at his home, Pop is shown the professor's train collection, which is in a room that is a scale model of the United States. Although it seems strange that there are trains but no cities on the map, Pop leaves without a decent story. Pop finds himself back in the office when calls begin coming in about the disappearance of major New York landmarks; Grant's Tomb, Pennsylvania Station and the Empire State Building are completely gone. Soon Pop discovers the professor has a secret and that he is a thief.

The second story in this collection, "Battle of Wizards," is a fun science fiction story that pits Science up against Magic. Earth's Mineralogy Service has its sights set on Deltoid, a planet rich in "catalyst crystals in a natural state." Angus McBane, a Civil Affairs officer, is sent to Deltoid to resolve the conflict between the humans and the planet's native inhabitants. This sets the stage for a battle between science (McBane) and magic (a local tribal chief). The winner gets rights to the planet and its resources.

Finally we come to the third story, "The Dangerous Dimension." This story is humorous with a touch of a morality tale. It's the story of a professor who discovers an equation that allows him to teleport himself anywhere he can imagine, whether he wants to or not. This was L. Ron Hubbard's first science fiction story, published in the July 1938 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. It's actually a pretty funny little story and it also asks the question: if someone did discover such an equation, should that knowledge be shared? The voice work, music and sound effects in this production all work together to give the listener an authentic, mid-20th century pulp magazine feel.

Copyright © 2009 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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