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The Crossroads
L. Ron Hubbard
Multicast performance, adaptation
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
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Gil T. Wilson

The Crossroads I have found my new addiction -- pulp magazine audiobooks.  The old pulps, full of short stories by great authors, seems like a thing of the past.  I don't know of any magazines that print short stories within any genre like they used to back in the mid-20th century.  Some of the best science fiction writers practiced their arts in those magazines.  Golden Age Stories and Galaxy Press have taken over 150 stories by L. Ron Hubbard and have produced their own pulps.

The printed books include some of the original artwork that went along with the stories and each book contains between one to five stories within a specific category or genre.  The categories used by Galaxy Press include sea adventure, far flung adventure, air adventure, westerns, fantasy, and science fiction. Galaxy Audio has produced each of these "pulps" into what I would term pulp audiobooks.  They have kept them affordable at 2 hours of stories for only $9.95.  I understand they are also available as downloads, as well as the super cool ePulp (a fully loaded iPod).

  The great thing about Galaxy Audio is that they have taken these fantastic tales with larger-than-life characters and created some great listening.  In much the same way as the printed books re-create the old pulps, the audio versions manage to re-create the old-time-radio dramas with their multi-cast acting, sound effects and superb incidental music. There are three stories included in this collection. 

  "The Crossroads" was originally published in the February, 1941 issue of Unknown Fantasy Fiction, may seem a bit like a lesson in capitalism and socialism.  Farmer Eben Smith is fed up with the government paying him to bury his surplus produce in order to fix the economy when there are people starving in the world.  So, Eben loads up his cart with some of his surplus, hooks up the horse and decides to take the food to the city and share the wealth, while making a little bit of money as well.  Eben finds himself lost at a very strange crossroads.  The crossroads consists of four very different roads: the wheel-rutted road he's traveling, a white dusty trail, a road that consists of large boulders, and a shiny metal road.  The travelers on each road seem to have something to barter, but once the barter starts, each society represented by a road goes into turmoil.  I guess this is what happens when a farmer falls into a nexus of time.

  Originally published in the October, 1941 issue of Unknown Worlds, "Borrowed Glory" is a bit of a romantic story. It tells of  two magical beings that make a bet that a human cannot have everything he/she wants and then give it back after only 48 hours.  One of the being seeks out an elderly woman that is on her death bed with no friends or family.  She has led her life hanging in the background and is dying a lonely woman.  Given the chance to love and be happy for 48 hours is a perfect chance for her.  She soon meets a rich playwright and falls in love.  The star-crossed lovers complete their whirlwind romance by getting married.  As the woman approaches her 48th hour, she leaves her husband and tells him not to look for her.  As any man in love would do, he tracks her down, and in true L. Ron Hubbard form, brings a conclusion to the story which may surprise you.

  "The Devil's Rescue" was published in the October, 1940 issue of Unknown Fantasy Fiction. A sailor is lost at sea after all the members of his ship have died just as they round The Cape of Good Hope.  After he spends a week alone in a small lifeboat, he is rescued by a mysterious ship with an even more mysterious crew.  He soon finds himself rolling bones to save his skin.  This story is one that shows the jack-of-all-trades background of L. Ron Hubbard.  Hubbard was once a sea-farin' man and his use of the terminology really shines here. As a former Navy man, I loved hearing the nautical terms used to push the story along. If you want to lose yourself for a couple of hours, there's no better way than with this Galaxy Audio collection.

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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