Except for the clearly understandable part where sometimes people give them lots of tax-exempt money, the thought processes of late Scientology founder Lafayette Ronald "L. Ron" Hubbard and the folks now entrusted with administering his legacy of what's legally defined as intellectual property are best not over-analyzed. Like deities themselves, they work in mysterious ways.
But one thing we can say for sure is that when Hubbard chose a direction, he went all in. Early in his career, he wrote fiction, and lots of it. Not just 1980s science fiction, such as Battlefield Earth. All kinds of good old-fashioned Golden Age pulp fiction: cop stories, fantasy, Westerns, historical fiction, and "far-flung adventure" that took its heroes around the world by plane, ship, horse, camel, and dogsled.
(And yes, this blog post is about a play you can go see tomorrow, but walk with me.)
Galaxy Press, the publisher that controls Hubbard's fiction catalogue, has so far released 153 of the magazine stories and short novels he pumped out in the 1930s and '40s under his own name and several pseudonyms, in print, audiobook, and e-book formats. Whether the potboilers are timeless literature or not, we bibliophiles are relieved to know that those cheap, crumbling pages from the glory days have been given a new lease on life. And though they aren't engraved on steel, sealed in titanium containers, and buried in a New Mexico vault whose logo can be seen from space, as the texts of Dianetics and the Church of Scientology are alleged to be, they have allegedly been engraved on steel, sealed in titanium containers, and buried in a California vault.
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For some of the many reasons anyone might heed legal advice to operate diverse enterprises under different names, a California corporation called the Church of Spiritual Technology receives royalties for Hubbard's written works and owns Author Services Inc., which operates Galaxy Press. In the Author Services building on Hollywood Boulevard, there's a cute little venue called L. Ron Hubbard Golden Age Theater, where talented stage, screen, and voice-over actors present radio-drama versions of Hubbard's cheesy, fun adventure tales, preceded by a bit of wholesome live music and followed by dessert and, according to our sister publication, no overt proselytizing. (There's also an east coast version.)
Now that Phoenix has its own Ideal Org, the West Coast troupe is visiting to present a free performance of Ghost Town Gun-Ghost (surprisingly, far from the clunkiest of Hubbard's titles). The plot sounds kind of cool: Pokey McKay, the last surviving resident of the town of Pioneer, keeps himself sane by pretending to be everyone who used to live there. When strangers and danger arrive, high jinks ensue.
Ghost Town Gun-Ghost starts at 2 p.m. Saturday, January 19, at 3845-3875 North 44th Street. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. The show is suitable for all ages, and admission is free. Call 602-954-1417 for more info. And we're not saying there's any reason to feel nervous -- but you could try dressing as an undercover cop. It worked on Law & Order: Criminal Intent.