Some believe the battle for Earth has already begun.
Long before the days of the Apollo moon landings and private corporations sending satellites into space, some far-sighted writers envisioned an invasion of our planet by beings from other worlds.
One of the most ambitious works depicting a 1,000-year occupation of Earth by a race of giant aliens from the planet Psychlo is Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000, first published in 1982 by L. Ron Hubbard as a celebration of his more than 50 years as a writer. Earlier, in 1952, he had founded the Church of Scientology, with the intention to develop human freedom and true spiritual enlightenment. But at that time, although Hubbard had been writing a variety of stories and books since the 1930s, he was mostly considered a major science fiction author along with such greats as Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Clifford Simak, and Robert A. Heinlein.
Science Fiction, also known as Speculative Fiction, has predicted the future since it was acknowledged as a legitimate literary genre in the 1950s. Science fiction has prophesied such items as automatic doors by H.G. Wells, voice-controlled computers by Arthur C. Clarke, submarines by Jules Verne, and handheld electronic devices to read books by L. Ron Hubbard.
Movie audiences have long been regaled with murderous alien invasions as depicted in such classics as Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, The Blob and Invaders from Mars to more recent films such as Independence Day, Mars Attacks, The Puppet Masters, and Cowboys & Aliens.
One interesting twist in Battlefield Earth is that unlike many such alien invasion epics, this alien-going-to-get–you story is more rooted in greed, gold, money, politics and power. Many would say it is a reflection of modern American society.
Hubbard conjectured there is considerable alien life in the galaxies. Among these was the Intergalactic Mining Company on the planet Psychlo which bought the concession to mine planet Earth and then tried to exterminate the human race with a bombardment of poison gas. The few survivors gathered in primitive communities scattered across the globe. This brutal assault to gain precious minerals was a tactic they had used for 1,000 years. The Intergalactic bankers loaned the money to purchase Earth in order to mine it. If the mining company fails to make a profit and defaults on the loan, Earth will be sold to the highest bidder at auction. Nothing personal. It’s just business. After all, banking is banking.
On the planet Psychlo, Hubbard explained, it was believed that war was necessary to keep economies growing and that war was also a great tool for maintaining population control.
This included the manufacture of weaponry and slavery. A medical scientist cult on Psychlo gained total control over the population by placing implants in the brains of Psychlo infants to control their emotions. Sadistic actions are now considered pleasurable. Thus, the Psychlos have become the most ruthless race in the galaxies. This is not sheer fantasy as psychiatrists on Earth today have begun placing implants in brains to control emotions.
The new unabridged edition of Battlefield Earth was published in 2016 quickly reaching the No. 1 position for paperback books as well as audiobooks. Considered a classic of science fiction since its initial release, one reviewer even compared it to the Star Wars saga. The new edition includes 50 new pages of handwritten notes Hubbard made while writing the book, along with an in-depth interview published in the Rocky Mountain News shortly after the book’s initial release.
A swashbuckling yarn of adventure, daring and courage, Battlefield Earth takes place in the year 3000 when humans have become an endangered species under the harsh rule of the Psychlos and the future survival of the human race is very much in doubt. This dire situation changes only after the book’s protagonist, Jonnie Goodboy Tyler and his childhood love Chrissie, along with some freedom-loving Scots, devise a plan to attack Psychlo with planet-busting weapons.
When first published, Battlefield Earth sold over 4 million copies and was on various bestseller lists, including the New York Times, for more than a year. A Modern Library Readers Poll ranked Battlefield Earth as number three of the top 100 novels of the 20th Century. A global phenomenon, the book has garnered many awards and has been translated into 27 languages. In 2000, Battlefield Earth was released as a major motion picture starring John Travolta but was widely panned as fans felt it had not been faithful to the book’s storyline.
With Battlefield Earth, Hubbard was following in the footsteps of other literary greats who wrote about humans confronting alien life. As far back as 1752, the French Enlightenment writer François-Marie Arouet, better known by his pen name Voltaire, in his work Micromégas wrote of a giant alien from a planet circling the star Sirius who befriends a large inhabitant of Saturn. Together, these Titans visit the Earth but find themselves so large that they can only stand in the oceans with water up to their lower extremities. As they are deciding that no intelligent life exists on Earth, they discover a whale and a ship filled with Arctic voyagers. The aliens have a great laugh when they find the humans believe themselves the only life in the universe.
In 1892, an Australian clergyman named Robert Potter published The Germ Growers, a science fiction tale with more modern overtones. The book describes a secret invasion by aliens who are able to take on the appearance of humans. They intend to wipe out the human race through a virulent disease.
But it was a prolific British author who six years later really got the alien-invasion ball rolling in literature. Herbert George Wells, better known simply as H.G. Wells, in 1898 published The War of the Worlds, a ground-breaking novel of a seemingly-unstoppable invasion by Martians and their death-dealing tri-pod machines armed with death rays. A huge success in its time, it has been overshadowed by the infamous Orson Welles radio treatment in 1938.
Originally aired on Sunday night October 30 by the Mercury Theatre of the Air, Welles crafted the story into a succession of news casts that broke into a musical program with increasingly frantic announcements of aliens landing in New Jersey and attacking. Many of those who tuned in to the program late missed the very clear introduction that it was all a Halloween prank and panicked with some fleeing their homes and many calls made to local authorities, especially in New Jersey. Although it was later found that reports of nationwide panic over the broadcast were greatly exaggerated, there were complaints to the Federal Communications Commission which prohibited programs mimicking real news programs. The popularity of The War of the Worlds resulted in seven motion pictures, as well as various radio dramas, comic-book adaptations, video games, a TV series, and sequels or parallel stories by other authors.
In all variations of The War of the Worlds the destructive invasion of the Earth was only stopped by the aliens’ lack of resistance to common Earth germs.
Today, the topic of alien invasion is taken more seriously. A controversial book purporting to be a genuine report from the early 1960s by a “Special Study Group” connected to the federal government entitled Report from Iron Mountain on the Possibility and Desirability of Peace looked into alternatives for war, described as the principal organizing force in any society. The report concluded:
“Credibility, in fact, lies at the heart of the problem of developing a political substitute for war. This is where the space-race proposals, in many ways so well suited as economic substitutes for war, fall short. The most ambitious and unrealistic space project cannot of itself generate a believable external menace. It has been hotly argued that such a menace would offer the ‘last, best hope of peace,’ etc., by uniting mankind against the danger of destruction by ‘creatures’ from other planets or from outer space. Experiments have been proposed to test the credibility of an out-of-our-world invasion threat; it is possible that a few of the more difficult-to-explain ‘flying saucer’ incidents of recent years were in fact early experiments of this kind.”
On September 21, 1987, President Ronald Reagan echoed this view when he told the United Nations General Assembly, “In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.”
When many writers, and even a US President, talk about alien invasion, should we be concerned? According to some there is reason for worry.
In 1952, in the wake of an epidemic of UFO sightings both in the USA and other nations including several craft overflying Washington, DC, the US Air Force issued orders to shoot down any UFO encountered if it was ordered to land but failed to do so. Fighter pilots went on the hunt for “flying saucers” with disastrous results. There was a rash of crashes, with perhaps up to 10 fighters lost in one incident over the Atlantic Ocean. In June and July of 1952, 94 fighter jets were lost worldwide with 51 crewmen confirmed killed. Planes were falling to the ground two and three at a time in some cases. According to the New York Times, 192 aircraft vanished or crashed during the years 1951 and 1956. The crashes ceased when the shoot-down orders were rescinded. Pilots were told to simply report any UFO incident initially to their respective commanders or airline but ultimately such reports only went straight to Washington. Some have speculated this was a short-lived war with the UFOs.
Other more modern real-life incidents appear to indicate an alien aspect. It has been noticed that every time a space launch is announced with some innocuous payload, such as parts for the space station or a communications satellite, the launch seems to go off without a hitch. Yet when there is a secret launch, usually only described as military in nature, these often explode or get lost. This has prompted some conspiracy-minded researchers to suspect that the Earth nations are being prevented from placing weapons in space or detecting extraterrestrial life.
The Russian Phobos II was due to closely scan Mars and even land instruments on Mars’ peculiar moonlet Phobos (the probe’s namesake), but in January, 1989, as the craft aligned with Phobos, all contact was lost. Alexander Dunayev, chairman of the Russian space agency in charge of the Phobos II, announced that the doomed probe had sent back last photos with images of a small, odd-shaped object between itself and Mars just before losing contact with Earth. There was speculation this object may have caused the craft’s loss.
This loss was repeated in 1993 when contact with the US Mars Observer was suddenly broken. It too was lost just as it entered Mars’ atmosphere. Military-trained psychics known as remote viewers claimed the Mars Observer also was disrupted by a small object which they said lifted off the Martian surface and approached the craft.
If this wasn’t strange enough, later in 1993, a Titan IV rocket exploded at a height of 100,000 feet. While the official explanation blamed the loss on a repaired rocket motor segment, Air Force Col. Frank Sterling, the Titan IV program manager stated an Air Force video of the launch showed an unidentified object apparently striking the Titan IV just before the explosion.
More recently, in September 2016, the private company SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket being tested at Cape Canaveral in Florida exploded setting back private attempts to go into space. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the rocket’s explosion was “the most difficult and complex failure we have ever had in 14 years,” and added his team was not ruling out the possibility of an unidentified flying object (UFO) striking the Falcon 9.
These and other space mishaps have prompted some researchers to suspect the Earth may have already been visited by entities from beyond our world who perhaps are causing such disasters in an effort to quarantine the planet due to our nuclear weapons and warlike ways.
In 1969, when it was reported that men had landed on the moon, what had been science fiction became science fact. In 1977 the space probe Voyager 2 was launched on August 20, oddly 16 days before its twin probe Voyager 1. Hailed as a mission of peace, Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have visited both the ice giants of Saturn and Jupiter. Scheduled to end its mission in 1989, Voyager 2 has continued to the outer planets of Neptune and Uranus. In 2016, both Voyager 1 and 2 had passed out of our solar system and into deep space becoming the farthest man-made objects ever sent from Earth. They continue to send back data.
Onboard Voyagers 1 and 2 is a gold-plated audio-visual disc designed for interpretation by any intelligent life forms that might be encountered in its travels. It presents a diagram of Earth’s position in our solar system, a virtual roadmap to our home planet.
These discs also carry photos of the Earth and its myriad forms of life, including drawings of a human male and female. On board are an assortment of scientific information, spoken greetings from Earthlings, and a medley of Earth sounds including whale calls, a baby crying, waves breaking on a shore, along with a collection of music, including works by classical composers such as Mozart, Bach and Beethoven. Interestingly, this also includes native music from various Earth communities such as the Navajo Indians, Australian Aborigines, South American panpipes and Asian countries --- and even Earth blues by Louis Armstrong and Blind Willie Johnson. Chuck Berry’s 1958 hit Johnny B. Goode is also included and one can only wonder what an alien species might make of rock ’n roll.
Some scientists, notably Stephen Hawking, the Director of Research at Cambridge University’s Centre of Theoretical Cosmology, have expressed apprehension about the fact that the Voyager might draw the wrong crowd to our world. In recent interviews, Hawking, while claiming that intelligent life forms almost certainly exists, nevertheless warns that communicating with them might prove “risky.”
“We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet,” warned Hawking. “I imagine they might exist in massive ships ... having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach.”
He said a visit by extraterrestrials might well be like comparing Christopher Columbus arriving in the Americas, “which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans.”
His admonition echoed the words of L. Ron Hubbard in describing Battlefield Earth. “You see, we have prepared for war with virtually everyone on this planet; but we’ve never prepared for war with aliens,” he told an interviewer in 1983. Hubbard said just as readers in the 19th century were often fearful of what the machines of the Industrial Revolution might bring to humankind, so today we should be wary of our exploding technology.
“We think nothing of going into an area and taking out minerals at the expense of the plant and animal life. So what would it be like if an advanced race of aliens viewed the entire planet of Earth in the same way? Now the prospect of something like this actually happening has always been laughed off as ‘fiction.’ But so has everything else SF writers took up—television, the atomic bomb, space travel—you name it.
“An analogy might be if someone had tried to warn the American Indians that this white race would come in with sticks that blew fire and that could wipe out the great buffalo herds. They Indians would have laughed at them.
“Am I saying an alien invasion is possible? I am saying that the reader should decide. I just wrote the story. Regardless, it is the story of how mankind could survive, and why.”
Hubbard also pointed out that his book may be more about human superstition than about an alien occupation. In the year 3000, the few surviving human tribes have forgotten about the aliens. They only know that “monsters” inhabit certain forbidden sections of the planet. It takes the human rebel Johnnie Goodboy Tyler and his ragtag recruits to recognize the true state of affairs and mount a resistance.
As the first words of the book, as uttered by the nine-feet-tall and hairy Psychlo Security Chief Terl, states, “Man is an endangered species.”
A giant Terl made a live appearance on June 14, 2016, the official release date for both the trade paperback book, Kindle and audiobook formats. In a science fiction scene right out of L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth, a 25-foot-tall alien spaceship was carefully crashed onto Hollywood Boulevard in front of Galaxy Press, publisher of the 21st Century edition of the book. The malevolent Terl, was taken into custody by actors portraying the book’s central characters—hero Tyler, heroine Chrissie and a team of 10 Scotsmen, bagpipes and all.
The event started in front of the famous Chinese Theatre with Jonnie, Chrissie and the Scots headed for the crashed spaceship in search of Terl. Amid considerable smoke rising from the crashed spaceship, Terl was extracted and captured. The Scotsmen, once having Terl secured, began shooting Battlefield Earth t-shirts from their guns to the enthusiastic crowd. Jonnie Goodboy Tyler and Chrissie were performed by Aaron Groben and Lauren Compton. The mysterious alien Terl was performed by Terl. The raucous tableau was witnessed by hundreds of captivated onlookers.
But perhaps the most amazing aspect of this unusual book launch may be its attendant audiobook. A fully immersive experience unlike any other audiobook ever produced, the audio Battlefield Earth brings this swashbuckling science fiction yarn of adventure, daring, and courage in the face of human extinction to vivid life. It becomes a virtual and intense movie of the mind.
This unabridged telling of Battlefield Earth is more than 47 hours of mesmerizing dialogue and action, utilizing a cast of 67 voice actors portraying 198 characters, with more than 150,000 sound effects and a full cinematic musical score—an experience that must be heard to be believed.
“Since the book is such a massive piece of art, we really felt that the introduction musically should match that. So we brought in instruments from all over the world. There’s over three hours of original music on Battlefield Earth. That’s unheard of, it’s unprecedented,” explained the audiobook’s music mixer Brian Vibberts.
“We wanted to take the best of today’s technological advances to make this big sprawling yarn vivid and exciting for people and so we threw everything into it,” added audio director Jim Meskimen.
Guest blog by award-winning journalist and author Jim Marrs.
Marrs is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy, the basis for the Oliver Stone film JFK, and Rule by Secrecy. His in-depth overview of the UFO phenomenon, Alien Agenda, is the bestselling non-fiction book on UFOs in the world, having been translated into several foreign languages. He is a frequent guest on nationwide radio talk-show programs and television programs.