Bill Blackbeard (1926–2011) er kanskje mest kjent som grunnleggeren av San Francisco Academy of Comic Art, et digert tegneseriearkiv. Men i tillegg til å sysle med arkiver, var han også en mer enn habil skribent og anmelder.
I 1950 skrev Blackbeard en ganske grundig gjennomgang og kritikk av Hubbards fiksjon for science fiction-magasinet Shangri LA:
Some Remarks on the Writings of L. Ron Hubbard
By William Blackbeard
“De L’audace, de l’audace, et toujours de l’audace!” – Danton
Steve Fisher, in a Writer’s Yearbook article written several years ago, mentions, among other fixtures noted in the New York office of the editor of one of the less lurid pulps, a “picture of L. Ron Hubbard in a pith helmet.” A member of the Explorer’s Club and one of the most prolific producers of pulp fiction alive today, Hubbard’s picture was probably as basic a furnishing in many an editorial sanctum as the reject box, and the pith helmet almost certain as integral a part of each as Hubbard’s hearty dedication and flowing signature.
Nothing I have read in a fairly extensive survey of Hubbard’s science-fiction and fantasy writing made in preparation for the brief critical commentary to be made in these pages has led me to discard Hubbard’s pith helmet as a vital portion of my mental portrait of the author. As a matter of fact, especially as the material read approaches the present in point of publication, I am more and more presented, as I conceive of Hubbard in the abstract, with a grotesquely swollen pith helmet alone, a pith helmet which has enveloped the man.
I have purposely limited myself, as implied above, to Hubbard’s science-fiction and fantasy as a basis for these remarks, inasmuch as his writings in these allied fields, however prolific and repetitious, can alone in his work be considered sufficiently serious in intent to qualify as vehicles of genuine analytical value. Nothing else he has done in fiction is as apt to present as consistent and clear a pattern of Hubbard’s thinking, philosophy, and conscious or subconscious attitudes. Ordinarily an author deserving of no more than an idle half our of one’s spare time (I will exempt the really superior Fear from the general application of this statement, as well as the opening chapters of Final Blackout), and no serious attention at all, Hubbard has assumed a certain notoriety and eminence in the not quite adjacent but mutually familiar worlds of science and science-fiction with the publication of his panacee universelle, Dianetics. I shall make little or no comment on that volume here; that is not the purpose of this article. Hubbard has guarded too well against frontal assaults on the text of Dianetics: He postulates the existence of engrams (unconscious memory retentions from painful occurrences in the prenatal stage and periods of unconsciousness preceded by pain in the post-natal, which restrain and hamper the actions and reflections of the individual) in everyone, then ingeniously points out that anyone criticizing or attacking the conclusions reached in the book must have been led to do so by his engrams, thus closing, on the level of his theory, all refutation and most creative debate.
Characteristically, however, Hubbard’s ego has led him to overlook his most obviously exposed flank — that of his personal standing as a creative artist and thinker. He has failed to consider that the status of his work in Dianetics might be challenged by an examination of his work in fields outside Dianetics, and, by analysis extended through that work, of the nature of his qualifications for serious work on any high creative or scientific level whatsoever. Conclusions derived from such a project and backed with sufficient evidence and example can hardly be termed engrammatic in origin — not, at least, successfully, inasmuch as nothing but accepted literary values, a little insight, and some known facts need be used as the basis for the analysis. It is just such an examination and analysis, short though it must necessarily be in this space, that I propose to make here.
Du kan lese hele teksten hos Tony Ortega.