Battlefield Earth

by L. Ron Hubbard
Reviewed date: 2011 Jan 21
Rating: 3
1050 pages
cover art
cover art

Battlefield Earth was one of my favorite books when I read it in the summer of 2001. Now, nearly ten years later, it doesn't hold up so well.

Sure, there are some exciting and clever parts, mostly involving the devilishly clever, mentally ill Terl. But it's often just tedious. The whole second part of the book--after Jonnie and his ragtag band of Scots defeat the Psychlos--drags interminably. And it just doesn't make sense for today's customs and tribal loyalties to continue unchanged for a thousand years.

  • After a millennium of subjugation by Psychlos, the Scots of Scotland wouldn't still be like Scots of today. Jonnie wouldn't consider himself an American. The Russians wouldn't be Russians.
  • There wouldn't be a Chinese family waiting 1000 years so they can regain their position as Imperial chamberlains.
  • The first order of business for the restored humanity would not be to resurrect ancient customs like paper currency and modern disease control measures.

These people were primitive hunter-gatherers just a few short months ago. Now they're setting up banks and waging currency wars? It's ludicrous. It would be one thing if Hubbard played this all for a laugh, but it's all in earnest.

It's still an exciting story, but it has a lot of problems.

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