The current SF Site offers an “article” by Algis Budrys that purports to be a history of L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest. I put the word article in quote marks because it carries with it some connotation of truth and objectivity, or at least rational judgment, and Budrys’ piece demonstrates none of those qualities.
Only the last paragraph has anything to do with the Writers of the Future contest. The rest is what can only be characterized as a posthumous blowjob for Hubbard, who is in the first sentence compared with Melville, Twain, London, and Hemingway…all of whom are presumably spinning in their graves (except maybe Twain, who would appreciate the absurdity of this rhetorical gesture and the assumptions about human gullibility that provoked it).
Budrys goes on to paint a typically Sciento-hagiographic (which is to say fragmentary and larded with omissions and statements of questionable veracity) portrait of Hubbard’s life. By the end of it, the reader who has succeeded in keeping his gorge down will be wondering by what cosmic injustice Hubbard was never awarded the Nobel Prizes for literature, peace, physics, and his legacy as “explorer and prospector, master mariner and daredevil pilot, philosopher and artist.“
Why, oh why, does science fiction (by which, in this case, I mean a fairly well respected fan and review site like SF Site) continue to offer Scientology proselytizers a platform? All this does is give ammunition to the legions of snobs SF fans want to see lurking around every corner. If you want people to take you seriously, don’t let yourself be used as a forum for crackpots.
Contests (free ones, anyway) which encourage young writers and give them a platform are terrific. So the Writers of the Future contest should be applauded on that basis; but the contest (as its website makes clear) is also a fig leaf for more Hubbard-worship. And Budrys’ “article” doesn’t even name any of the now-successful writers who gained entry to the field by means of the contest–which one presumes might have been a useful selling point were the “article” really about the contest. But it isn’t. It’s a Scientology recruiting pamphlet–nothing more, nothing less–and it doesn’t belong on a website that takes itself seriously as an outlet for discussion, critique, and devotion to the literature of SF.