Nov 3, 2006

We Have to Invite Him, He's Family

The current SF Site offers an "article" by Algis Budrys that purports to be a history of L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future contest. I put the word article in quote marks because it carries with it some connotation of truth and objectivity, or at least rational judgment, and Budrys' piece demonstrates none of those qualities.

Only the last paragraph has anything to do with the Writers of the Future contest. The rest is what can only be characterized as a posthumous blowjob for Hubbard, who is in the first sentence compared with Melville, Twain, London, and Hemingway...all of whom are presumably spinning in their graves (except maybe Twain, who would appreciate the absurdity of this rhetorical gesture and the assumptions about human gullibility that provoked it).

Budrys goes on to paint a typically Sciento-hagiographic (which is to say fragmentary and larded with omissions and statements of questionable veracity) portrait of Hubbard's life. By the end of it, the reader who has succeeded in keeping his gorge down will be wondering by what cosmic injustice Hubbard was never awarded the Nobel Prizes for literature, peace, physics, and his legacy as "explorer and prospector, master mariner and daredevil pilot, philosopher and artist."

Why, oh why, does science fiction (by which, in this case, I mean a fairly well respected fan and review site like SF Site) continue to offer Scientology proselytizers a platform? All this does is give ammunition to the legions of snobs SF fans want to see lurking around every corner. If you want people to take you seriously, don't let yourself be used as a forum for crackpots.

Contests (free ones, anyway) which encourage young writers and give them a platform are terrific. So the Writers of the Future contest should be applauded on that basis; but the contest (as its website makes clear) is also a fig leaf for more Hubbard-worship. And Budrys' "article" doesn't even name any of the now-successful writers who gained entry to the field by means of the contest--which one presumes might have been a useful selling point were the "article" really about the contest. But it isn't. It's a Scientology recruiting pamphlet--nothing more, nothing less--and it doesn't belong on a website that takes itself seriously as an outlet for discussion, critique, and devotion to the literature of SF.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Writers of the Future is a Scientology front group. Scientology is sneaky in its attempts to recruit people into the religion by misleading them.

Scientology is a scary scamcult, that may sound like harsh words but to anyone that doesn't believe it, there is tons and tons of evidence to prove this.

Anonymous said...

I am suspecting that perhaps the SFsite may have not researched much into Hubbard's many fabrications? Some may still think he is just a sci-fi writer. (unless they are complicit in this)

Anonymous said...

Some video links that Scientology does not want people to see

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3463204714566011542&q=Scientology&hl=en - Scientology Orienation video

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4595729596527335458&q=scientology&hl=en - Scientology and how they snuck into Clearwater Florida

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1083100102009309014&q=scientology&hl=en - Scientology 4th of July event (3 Scientology "handlers" confront a cameraman)

Some Scientology history:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Freakout

"Operation PC Freakout was the name given by the Church of Scientology to a covert plan undertaken by the Church in 1976, with the goal of harassing Paulette Cooper, author of a book critical of Scientology titled The Scandal of Scientology. The plan came to light when the FBI seized several documents related to Operation Freakout from church offices in Los Angeles in 1977 during the investigation of Operation Snow White. The documents indicated the purpose of Operation Freakout was to have Paulette Cooper "incarcerated in a mental institution or jail or at least to hit her so hard that she drops her attacks".[1] The strategy was to fabricate evidence that Cooper was guilty of issuing bomb threats against the Church, Henry Kissinger, Arab nations, and a laundromat. The seized documents were used to prosecute and convict Scientology officials in 1979.

The Church of Scientology continued to harass Paulette Cooper following Operation Freakout, filing numerous lawsuits against her throughout the 1970s and 1980s."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Snow_White

"Operation Snow White was the name given internally by the Church of Scientology to a program which included the single largest infiltration of the United States government in history.[1] Under this program, Scientology operatives committed infiltration, wiretapping, and theft of documents in government offices, most notably those of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Eleven highly-placed Church executives, including Mary Sue Hubbard (wife of founder L. Ron Hubbard and second in command of the organization), pleaded guilty or were convicted in federal court of obstructing justice, burglary of government offices, and theft of documents and government property. The case was United States vs. Mary Sue Hubbard et al., 493 F. Supp. 209 (D.D.C. 1979)"

Kyle Jelle said...

Okay, I'm not a scientologist. I'm pretty much convinced that it's more scam than cult, but I won't defend it in any way.

That said, I'm also a first place Writers of the Future winner (Volume 13, 1997), and what I can tell you is that they gave me a lot of money, they asked for nothing in return except first North American publication rights, and during the all-expenses-paid, week-long writers boot camp/awards ceremony, they never tried to recruit any of us, and barely even talked about it when asked.

If it's a front group, they're doing a lousy job of it. The contest may be the only worthwhile thing in Hubbard's legacy, but whatever it is, it's not what the first comment is making it out to be.

Alex Irvine said...

Yeah, Anonymous got a little carried away. Like I said, the contest in and of itself is fine. The fact that it becomes used as a platform for Scientology is disturbing.

Congrats, btw.

Anonymous said...

Congrats, doesn't change the fact Scientology is a nasty cult tho.

Anonymous said...

Hubbard was also a terrible writer.

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Steven said...

Hi Alex -

I'm a first time caller... well, that's what they'd say if this was a radio show, right? I was a winner of the WotF back in 2002, and like Kyle had some very good experiences and have, thanks to the award and the workshop made what I hope are some life long friendships with the likes of Kevin J Anderson, Tim Powers, Tod McCaffery, and Sean Williams. The confidence the whole experience gave me also resulted in my selling (currently) 6 novels and an anthology (Elemental) to Tor, working on Dr Who related stuff and 18 months ago becoming a full time writer. That's first pro sale in 2002 to full time writer by mid 2005.

For young writers it's a great award to win, and again as Kyle stated, the religion was not mentioned once during the workshop week when I was there as a winner, nor when I was there this year as an example of how you can make things work if you really want it.

Again, like Kyle (wow I feel like he said all the good lines before me) I'm not a scientologist and have no particular interest in it - however I am a great advocate of the contest because I see what it did for me in terms of boosting my own career from a non-entity into a career (that week with Powers and other teachers was precious beyond belief). So basically, I sincerely hope the contest continues, and you know, any contest boasting judges like Silverberg, Brooks, Gaiman, Sawyer, Niven and Pournelle is a contest worth winning, no?

Anyway, bit of a drive-by posting I know, but I just wandered across this and figured, ooh for once I have something to say on someone's blog :)

Alex Irvine said...

Steven,

First of all, congratulations on your success...

Like I said, I've got nothing against contests per se. This one, though, strikes me as something along the lines of Exxon donating money for wetlands restoration. It's a good thing that it happens, but everyone involved knows that the money comes from a tainted source trying to make itself look better.

Steven said...

Alex - one of the things that was mentioned (I don't know for sure if it was mentioned when Kyle won) was that the contest is essentially self-funding from sales and that there was a strict separation between the church and the award.

Obviously I am not party to any otherwise undisclosed info, and as a miserably failed christian I have no interest in miserably failing at another religion, but as a fledling writer it was the world of difference for me.

Has it crossed my mind that the contest offers an acceptable face Scientology? Of course, that was one of my first thoughts - it probably should be one of everyones first thoughts on the subject - but I think if that were purely the case then more would be made of it in the award, the literature and promotion that is sent out. There's no denying the church exists, just as there is no denying Hubbard published a vast amount of fiction during the pulp era. He was a writer first, who's to say the contest was nothing more than his wish to pay it forward?

I don't know, and I don't claim to - I just wanted to support what Kyle said, about how both were kept very very seperate in my experience of the award and the workshop, and subsequently I have had no links with the church or approaches from the church.

Do you spurn the Exxon aid if it could help make a difference?

Anyway, sorry for clogging up your blog, and thanks for the congrats - tis a fun job we have.

Alex Irvine said...

Steve, no worries about clogging. And no, you probably don't spurn the Exxon aid, unless you're a serious fundamentalist on the topic. I just wish that SF as a culture wasn't so closely tied to Scientology.

Tis a fun job. Except right now when I'm dying under deadlines...

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