The Invaders Plan: Exploring L. Ron Hubbard's Mission Earth Series
L. Ron Hubbard is a renowned author, popularly known for his contributions to the development of Scientology. However, before his involvement in religious movements, he was a prominent science fiction writer. His science fiction writings feature themes of adventure, action, and political commentary. One of his most notable works is the Mission Earth series, a ten-volume science fiction novel, which was published in the 1980s. This article shall delve into the background and context of L. Ron Hubbard's work, the Mission Earth series, and analyze the themes and plot of the first book in the series, The Invaders Plan. Moreover, this piece will critically analyze the characterization and motives of the invading aliens, as well as the societal commentary within the text.
The Mission Earth series was written in the 1980s, towards the end of L. Ron Hubbard's life. Although he had been writing fiction since the 1930s, his writing career took a back seat after his introduction of Dianetics, a self-improvement philosophy that would eventually become the basis for Scientology. Mission Earth was his return to writing. The series comprises of ten novels- each with its own title, themes, and literary style. The series, which is the author's longest, has often been described as a satirical novel. However, Hubbard's take on satire is not the usual rib-tickling humor associated with the genre. Instead, his satire is bleak and soul-crushing, revealing the depressing nature of humankind's existence.
The first book in the Mission Earth series, The Invaders Plan, was published in 1985. The book is divided into two parts, with each part consisting of nine chapters. Its central theme is that of alien invaders plotting to take over planet Earth. The aliens, known as Psychlos, are humanoid and ten times stronger than an average human being. They possess advanced technology that humans cannot match. Although these aliens intend to conquer earth, they have, over the years, been unsuccessful in their attempts.
The protagonist of the novel, Jettero Heller, is a young man sent from his planet to stop the Psychlos from taking over the earth. Jettero, who is an officer for his planet, has a reputation for being fearless. Hubbard describes him as having a chiseled face and a physique that combines both agility and strength. He is the reader's gateway into the world of the Psychlos. The antagonist is Terl, the head of the Psychlo occupation on Earth. Terl is greedy and corrupt, with the only goal being to make as much money as possible before the Psychlo's mothership returns to their home planet.
One of the overarching themes of the novel is the powerlessness of humankind. This sentiment is evident in the book's storyline, where a handful of powerful beings controls the fate of an entire species. In the novel, the alien race, with its superior technology and military might, easily overwhelms humankind. Jettero and his group represent an almost hopeless attempt to resist the aliens. Throughout the book, several human characters express their frustration with the lack of power to resist the Psychlos. This lack of power has been exacerbated by the Psychlos' control over information channels.
Another theme of The Invaders Plan is the dichotomy between good and evil. This theme is apparent in the contrast between Jettero, the protagonist, and Terl, the antagonist. Terl is an embodiment of evil, motivated by greed and a narcissistic desire for power, while Jettero represents good, with his determination to stop Terl's evil plan. This theme of good versus evil is pervasive in the science fiction genre. But in this novel, Hubbard takes it to another level, perhaps to emphasize the boundaries between good and evil.
The Psychlos in The Invaders Plan represent societal commentary on the dangers of power and avarice. Psychlos are motivated solely by greed and power. They view their superiority over humans as a foundation for their superiority as a species. Hubbard uses this society, ruled by Psychlos, to satirize the lifestyle of the wealthy and powerful. Terl, who is in charge of the operation, is a perfect representation of this concept. He is willing to do everything in his power to be rich and powerful, irrespective of the consequences. In one scene, he contemplates removing sand from a desert by bombarding it with nuclear devices. This scene highlights the risks associated with a person in power who is selfish and uncommitted to the greater good.
Similarly, the character, Soltan Gris, one of Terl's underlings, represents the corrupt nature of society's bureaucrats. Gris is an accountant, who, despite being on an alien planet, is still intent on evading taxes. He, like Terl, is motivated solely by personal gains and is willing to do anything to make sure his plans align with his interests.
The advanced technology that Psychlos possess is another point of societal commentary. Psychlos' technology is a manifestation of the potential excesses of technological advancements. The Psychlos use their superior technology to control the earth, humans, and everything on it. Throughout the novel, the Psychlos' advanced technology is both feared and revered. The humans, whose technological advancements are still at a rudimentary stage, view Psychlos' technology with a mix of fear and awe. This aspect of the novel is a reflection on humans' fear of advanced technology, a subject that would, later on, be explored in various other science fiction works.
The themes in The Invaders Plan emphasize the impact of power on societies. Hubbard uses the Psychlos to show that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This theme is pervasive throughout the novel and is represented in various characters' actions and motivations. The main villain, Terl, and his cohorts are all examples of how power corrupts individuals. In contrast, Jettero and his group of resistance fighters represent those willing to surrender their power to the greater good.
Hubbard's characterization of the Psychlos in The Invaders Plan is exemplary. Each Psychlo represents a different aspect of society, as pointed out earlier. However, the author takes a further step by creating characters that are both relatable and entertaining. Terl is a narcissistic tyrant who is easily irritated when something goes wrong. Gris is a selfish, profit-minded bureaucrat, whose life revolves around making money and avoiding taxes. Karnow is an assassin with a wry sense of humor, vengeful, and with no affection for humans. Through these characters, Hubbard creates a world that is both interesting and believable, despite the fantastic elements of the plot. While Psychlos are the stuff of fantasy, their motivations are eerily relatable, which makes the reader empathize with them- almost to a point where one almost forgets that they are villains.
In conclusion, The Invaders Plan is the first book in the Mission Earth series and sets the tone for the entire series. L. Ron Hubbard uses satire to create a bleak world where the possibility of humankind's survival is in the hands of a few powerful individuals. The themes in The Invaders Plan, such as the dichotomy between good and evil, society's corruption, and the dangers of technological advancement, are as pertinent today as they were when the book was first published. Hubbard's characterization of Psychlos is also exemplary, with each character representing a different aspect of society, creating a relatable world despite the fantastic elements of the book. Hubbard's contributions to science fiction with the Mission Earth series cannot be overstated. His novels continue to be a reference point for science fiction writers, and with its societal commentary, continue to have an impact on contemporary literature.