This is my recommended must-read book list. These five novels span L. Ron Hubbard’s science fiction, fantasy, humor, and alternate history.
I know what it’s like when looking for new fiction to read, and you run across a famous author’s name you’ve heard hundreds of times before. Especially when you see everything they’ve written and it’s completely overwhelming to choose a few books from such a huge list! Where to start? Never has that been more true of an author than with L. Ron Hubbard.
Mr. Hubbard published over 260 short stories, novellas, and novels. To be published during the highly competitive golden age of fiction, all of his stories had to be great. However, several stand a little taller, set new standards, and open up never-before-explored concepts—books which make you think. Not to mention stories that introduced some of my favorite characters of all time.
So whether you’re new to L. Ron Hubbard’s fiction, or you have already greatly enjoyed some of his stories and are looking for more, here is my top five list of must-read books:
Between working, taking care of your house and yard, washing clothes and dishes, and the multitudes of other mind-numbing tasks which are a part of everyday life, sometimes normal living can feel like a trap. Curling up with an epic fantasy novel where the fictional world has slightly different rules can be just the escape you need. Two of the best fantasies ever written are Slaves of Sleep and Masters of Sleep. The former was first published in 1939 in Unknown, and the latter in 1950 in Fantastic Adventures. Both are now available in a single book.
Slaves of Sleep: Jan, our protagonist, is stuck in a job he doesn’t like, surrounded by controlling people who bully him around. He is the typical average nice guy who doesn’t want to cause trouble by standing up for himself. But his life is completely turned upside-down when an ancient genie is released from a jar, murders someone in Jan’s presence, and curses him. Of course, no sane person believes his story and the police throw him in jail. And once Jan falls asleep, the “curse” comes into play, whereby he awakens in a world which the “sleeping part” of him has always lived; a world filled with high priests, sailing ships, and magical genies with all humankind enslaved in their service.
In his everyday life, Jan is scholarly and well-thought, although timid. In this other world, while Jan is thoroughly uneducated, he is everything he never was on Earth: bold, impertinent, and willing and able to fight at the first draw of a sword. As he slowly gains more experience with his “curse,” Jan learns to meld both parts of himself into the hero he needs to become to duel with his enemies.
In an epic fantasy, the bad guys are really bad and stay that way until either banished or killed, and Jan’s adversaries in both worlds are always ready with a new twist of the knife to make his life even more precarious with every chapter. They all want him dead, and we don’t know until the final pages if Jan’s transformation will be enough to save him.
Masters of Sleep: Have you ever had a great realization or learning about life, and it completely changed how you looked at something? Then, over the years, the freshness of that epiphany faded, and you didn’t even think of it anymore? Well, in Masters of Sleep, L. Ron Hubbard magically and realistically recreates that scenario with the hero. Jan has slowly settled back into his two selves, each forgetting the other, with his lives in both universes amassing problems he can no longer solve in this divided state.
It is almost a law that a sequel can never live up to the excitement and thrill of the original, but Masters of Sleep is an exception. It perfectly ties back to the original without just rehashing the first story. A mysterious and powerful magical artifact causes consternation to Jan as he tries to figure out what it can do. He doesn’t even know how to hold onto it, as it floats between characters and back and forth between both universes.
There is warfare all around as Jan is outnumbered and out-armed by the powerful genies and human soldiers who serve the bad guy. The odds are even more formidable for Jan, and if he dies in either universe, he will die in both. With each chapter, his grave is being dug deeper and deeper with no way out. All the reader can do is speed up, furiously turning the pages as the action builds, first in one universe and then in the other, all the time hoping beyond hope that our hero can find a way out of his overwhelming problems. And when the story is over, and you finally leave this fantastical place of magical genies and powers way beyond our own life, it will be with a smile on your face—enjoying a chance to LIVE in such a world for the past several hours.
Science Fiction Space Opera
At the top of my reading list is the epic space opera book Battlefield Earth. This is one of the few books I have enjoyed so much that I’ve read it twice. The memorable characters that you learn to love and hate. The good guys are good, and the bad guys play mean and dirty, some blatantly while others work their evil behind the scenes. This book includes some of my favorite characters.
Battlefield Earth: Initially, Jonnie finds himself captured and starving, but force alone will not win his freedom against sadistic aliens standing nine feet tall and weighing over a ton. He compels himself to withstand their abuse while studying this overwhelming enemy. Through his never-say-die drive, the hero has to lead the few human survivors in a revolt that has almost no chance of vanquishing the evil aliens—yet doing nothing would mean a lifetime of grief and despair. Jonnie bands his hastily assembled group of men together with a soldier’s esprit de corps and the power of the human spirit, which is so inspiring in the best military science fiction.
What starts with an alien invasion on Earth and the struggle for freedom soon erupts across 16 galaxies with soldiers, space battles, and interstellar travel (both spaceships and teleportation) in a space opera of epic proportion. And even when that battle has ended and the enemy defeated, an even more evil group of politicians and statesmen step in to take control of Earth, adding unexpected intergalactic twists and turns. In open warfare, your enemy is clear, but the battle for humanity moves into the political arena spanning numerous alien cultures and politicians. The statesmen smile and tell people what they want to hear while simultaneously stabbing them in the back. Jonnie can’t understand men of this nature and has no desire to work with them, but with the future of every remaining survivor still in his hands, he is forced to rise to the challenge.
Will Jonnie succeed in a field he knows so little of, inhabited by bankers and politicians who throw countries and planets around like a battlefield-soldier throws lead? Well, I can’t give away everything; you’ll just have to read for yourself one of the best stories ever. The first 13 chapters or the first hour of the audiobook are free. (This is one of the best sci-fi audiobooks of all time!)
A close second in the science fiction genre is A Very Strange Trip. Imagine a comedy adventure with an out-of-control time machine and an unlikely hero packed into a fun story to read! You will really enjoy this book.
A Very Strange Trip: This is the type of book you take to the beach in the summer and speed through in a day and are so happy that you didn’t have any scheduled excursions to tear you away. The plot hooks you in the first few pages as a young man is ripped from his family and the love of his life while thrown into the army, where he is soon in charge of driving a military ATV full of experimental Russian top-secret equipment across the country.
Each character you meet is entertaining yet still real-enough to have been someone you’ve met in life. Private Dumphee soon stumbles into three beautiful women, who, although they come from a much different time, quickly prove themselves capable of protecting him and the cargo. This quartet handles the accidental time-travel as best they can, even though almost everywhere they travel, or rather when they travel, the locals promptly make them out as enemies.
The group continues back to earlier and earlier periods as the military ATV “time machine” hits rough terrain. The reader will be sucked into this story, reading faster and faster to figure out how one adventure ends while trying to guess what the next adventure will be! This is a wild ride and a very funny story—hysterical at times and wickedly original.
This next novel was an addiction that I could not put down. It also warrants the must-read list and can legitimately be called a page-turner as it pulls you right into the story. I have read many novels by many authors, but few have left me with the impact of this one.
Final Blackout: Written at the outset of World War II, this battlefield novel is set in a dystopian future, where continuous world war and disease have ravaged the land and the people. Imagine if WW II never ended. An English force consisting of a strong group of soldiers, led by the Lieutenant, make their way across France, still in battle against whatever bands of both enemies and friends who try to do them in. Everyone in his force serves the Lieutenant with fierce loyalty because he has proven time and again that whatever he does, the Lieutenant does for the good of his men.
And even once they make their way back to England, the fight has only just begun. As Communists have long since taken rule, they are vastly outnumbered and must battle to live and remain in their homeland.
It would be dismissive to simply call this a “war” story because it is so much more, getting into the character of leaders and the behind-the-scenes politics where the real battles take place. You can’t help but think that this novel was a warning of the upcoming World War II and other future wars and the catastrophes which happen to a populace when weak, angry, and controlling men are allowed to rule. This is a must-read for anyone who considers themselves a student of mankind and politics.
With so many great L. Ron Hubbard fiction books to choose from, these top five books are a great place to start. You won’t be disappointed, except when you finally finish, but even then you’ll still have over 250 more novels and short stories from which to choose!
These stories pull you through with more force than a tractor-beam pulling in a rebel spaceship. They are a great escape from our world and the daily grind. L. Ron Hubbard knew how to take you out of this world, and he really delivers with these stories. Highly recommended.
What is your favorite book? Let me know in the comments!
John Carey paid the bills working as a programmer and IT project manager while he honed his writing skills at night and on the weekends. John has just published his second book, Not Worthy of the Air you Breathe set in the future where nations have taken a cue from the business world and terminate their low performing citizens at the end of each year.
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