L. Ron Hubbard began work on Fear in January 1940. His customary practice was to visualize a story completely and then to sit down and write it, straight through, with whirlwind speed. But by his own account, Fear came more slowly. “I finally got the plot of it licked,” he wrote to a friend, describing his realized conception of the main character who unexpectedly loses hours from his life.
“He strives to locate his deeds while missing everywhere but in the right place, for he fears to look there,” the author explained. As for style, Ron Hubbard added: “And I think a nice, delicate style is best suited. Paint everything in sweetness and light and then begin to dampen it, not with the style, but with the events themselves.”
In the preceding issue of Unknown, John Campbell had warned his readers not to miss Hubbard’s story. “Fear,” he said, “has been built of nightmare stuff.”
It was. It is. And its impact was immediate, genre-shaping and permanent. Literary historian David Hartwell has applauded it as “one of the foundations of the contemporary horror genre, widely influential, and powerfully effective. From Ray Bradbury to Stephen King, a literary debt is owed to L. Ron Hubbard for Fear.”