This is the typical space opera. Good in the story, weak in science/technology. The most amazing thing is that the device to effect the instant remote transfer of materials can be hand-crafted manually on a single layer PCB!!
At around a whopping thousand-fifty pages, Battlefield Earth is no novel to sit down and quickly go through in a few nights. Being such a large tome, one must expect an increased entertainment value for the time one places into such an endeavor. Is Battlefield Earth worth the time it took to read it?
Battlefield Earth is a post-apocalyptic Earth story. Thousands of years ago, an extra-terrestrial race called Psychlos invaded, wiped out most of mankind, and began mining the Earth for its resources.
The story follows the exploits of one man named Jonny 'Goodboy' Tyler. The name alone made me cringe. Goodboy? Is his arch-nemesis going to be called 'Badman'? What would lead L. Ron Hubbard to name his lead character such a juvenile name? Oh well, I got over that and continued on.
Tyler is a young man living in a small village of humans that are hiding out in the Denver mountains. Basically all humans (small amount left that there are) hide somewhere to escape the Psychlos. Tyler is one of those types of people that believe there's got to be more to life than what they are living. Against the better judgement of his friends and family he leaves to find it. What he does find is an entirely empty twentieth century city. He sees books but cannot read them, he sees all types of ancient human artifacts but does not understand them either.
Unfortunately he is discovered shortly afterward by Terl. Terl is the chief of security (essentially the leader of the Psychlo race) on Earth. While Terl is responsible for Psychlo's efforts on Earth, he also has his own welfare in mind. He wants to be rich, retire, and get off this desolate planet that he hates so much.
Terl captures the young human (what he calls from now on as 'Animal') to train in basic mining techniques. Terl has found a large deposit of gold that has gone unreported to his superiors. The gold has been considered too dangerous to mine due to the presence of uranium nearby, something Psycho's breathe-gas (their air) tanks explode upon if brought too near to. With a human, Terl suspects he could get all that gold without anyone knowing!
The first third of the story completes with Terl constantly being mean to Tyler. He trains Tyler in all different ways of mining and Psychlo. Tyler also takes this opportunity to decide to avenge the human race by researching anything to destroy the Psychlos.
If you have seen the movie, the film ends shortly here as well. There are yet another two thirds left! Jonny may have been successful at destroying the Psychlos, but he won't know until he can verify it (will they retaliate from their home planet?). The human race is freed eventually...although it may be only for a little while.
The next section of the novel is all about politics and the setup of mankind on Earth. At first they are all lovey-dovey and friendly towards each other. Then one of the residents from Tyler's old village becomes a type of 'president' of North America. He is insatiably jealous of Tyler. So much so that he goes to any means to kill him. He hires thugs to oppress North America and performs all types of indecent acts to mankind. Humanity has yet another enemy and it isn't a race from another planet, it's a political leader who very well may become the next Hitler.
After all that political rabble, the last third of the book is all economics based. ARGH! After getting through the political crap that really bored me, now economics? At first it was neat. A small gray man was appearing all around earth. What is he? Then eventually we are introduced to him, but also to a whole pile of other alien races who want the spoils of Earth since Psychlo is no longer around to protect it. Jonny Tyler must now stop them from destroying mankind as well! Does it never end? Well get this...we finally find out who the small gray man is...a representative from the Galactic Bank! The Psychlos apparently have not been paying their mortgage to this planet for a while and he is there to forclose! All these aliens want to buy it up fast, but what about the humans that have fought so hard to take it back in the first place? Is is all in vain? How the heck can humans pay trillions of galactic credits for their own planet, as well as defend it and live?
Eventually we get all the answers and I suppose it's a fairly reasonable ending. Done.
I had seen the film which everyone has panned and figured the novel had got to be better than that. Books are usually packed with a lot more info and more complex stories than what a film can show. I was right, but it was too much for me. Perhaps I was expecting a space opera type story, of which I got for the first third of the novel and I really enjoyed it. When it switched to politics and an oppressive Hitler styled leader I got bored. The novel slowly went through politics and then in the last part of the novel, economics that my head started to spin. Perhaps people interested in these things may enjoy this stuff but I hated it. It's a bloody bore! If I wanted to read about politics and economics it certainly wouldn't be in a science fiction novel. There's enough history and such in real life. This is not why I read sci-fi. I understand there is some kind of vain message enclosed in this story, I just think it's stupid. The final resolution? Spread capitalism throughout the Galaxy and it will make everyone happy (not too mention peaceful). Ridiculous fluff actually. Perhaps my point of views on capitalism really ruined the 'happy feeling' spread capitalism storyline. I don't know.
Some sections of this novel are so slowly paced it's very trying to get through. at a thousand plus pages, I feel that this novel would have flowed smoothly along without ruining anything at about eight hundred pages. Didn't anyone tell Hubbard this? Or perhaps it was even longer in his rough draft! Yikes....Continua