But what about earlier in his career, before Scientology? Was there ever a time Hubbard produced good books? And could a guy who eventually argued that the space opera genre represented the inherited memories of a pre-human civilization write something other than science fiction? It was with these questions in mind that I picked up Fear.
Luckily the editors are nice enough to explain what makes Fear so "powerful," and that's "because it really could happen. And that is terrifying."
Scary stuff, right? Well, I should probably mention the one-sentence synopsis on the back of the book:
The terrifying tale of a man who loses four hours of his life and begins to go mad as he tries to remember what happened.
Try not to make any hangover-related jokes, okay?
Also, check out that front cover, which would look better on the side of a van than the cover of a horror story. The title barely legible in lurid yellow-green outline text. A dude trying to keep his hat as he's gobbled up by a giant serpent-dragon, also outlined in yellow. A full moon, because wolves howl at them and wolf howls are scary.
That hat at least is relevant to the plot, and I think there might be a moon in there, but the snake is definitely the product of artistic license. Unless it's supposed to be symbolic of... well, we'll try to figure that out later.
Before we dig in, there's one last warning from our author:
There is one thing which I wish the reader could keep in mind throughout, and that is: this story is wholly logical, for all that will appear to the contrary. It is not a very nice story, nor should it be read alone at midnight - for it is true that any man might have the following happen to him. Even you, today, might lose four hours from your life and follow, then, in the course of James Lowry.
- L. Ron Hubbard
That's right, even if you read it and think to yourself, "none of that made a lick of sense," it was logical despite evidence to the contrary. So there.
Let's see how many hours we can lose in this, shall we?