Find out why this bestselling book keeps on selling after 40 years.
Discover the award-winning full-cast audiobook, the music album, the movie, the art, and more. We’ve even included a podcast interview with the award-winning director, Roger Christian (director of Battlefield Earth). Some of the facts will fascinate you.
Included are details about this epic novel’s characters, weapons, and universes. Star Wars and Star Trek fans will love it.
You might also be interested to see the technological advances that have resulted following the writing of Battlefield Earth. Several blogs have been written around these, and links to those are included.
In the year A.D. 3000, Earth is a dystopian wasteland. The great cities stand crumbling as a brutal reminder of what we once were. When the Psychlos invaded, all the world’s armies mustered little resistance against the advanced alien weapons.
Now, the man animals serve one purpose. Do the Psychlos’s bidding or face extinction.
“L. Ron Hubbard was one of the big change agents of science fiction. He helped shift the genre from a cold exploration of machines, technology, and alien worlds, to a warm exploration of human beings and how they reacted to such machines, technologies, and worlds. Battlefield Earth is a prime example, a character-driven epic that grabs you from the start and never lets go. You root for the heroes and despise the villains, all the while becoming immersed in a compulsively-readable science-fiction tour de force, complete with breathtaking action, non-stop adventure, and enough creativity to fill a dozen novels.” —Douglas E. Richards (author of Unidentified)
“Battlefield Earth is one of my favorite works of science fiction ever. I’ve probably read it eight times or so. It’s always in my top five. As a writer myself, I think about the pacing and the plotting of that book and just marvel that he pulled it off. It’s really brilliant.” —Hugh Howey (author of Wool)
Battlefield Earth overview table of contents
This page includes information on the following subjects. Click, read and enjoy!
In 1977, NASA launched the Voyagerspace probe into deep space … and it proves to be an invitation to disaster when an alien race is contacted and executes a savage invasion of Voyager’s launching pad: Earth.
Fast forward to the year 3000; Earth is a dystopian wasteland. The great cities stand crumbling as a brutal reminder of what we once were. When the Psychlos invaded, all the world’s armies mustered little resistance against the advanced alien weapons.
Now, man serves one purpose.
Do the Psychlos’ bidding or face extinction.
But one man, Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, has a plan. He must learn about the Psychlos and their weapons. He needs the other humans to join and help him. And that may not even be enough.
Can he outwit his Psychlo captor and oppressor, Terl?
What is the Psychlo weakness?
The fate of the Galaxy lies on the Battlefield of Earth.
This is one of the finest examples of science fiction ever written, with nuance, sub-plots, and action all the way through—a masterpiece at over 1,000 pages.
You’ll love this epic New York Times bestseller by L. Ron Hubbard because his science fiction vision was ahead of its time.
Battlefield Earth 21st Century Edition
The new 21st Century Edition includes:
Handwritten notes selected from more than seven hundred pages accumulated during the conception and composition of Battlefield Earth (working title─Man: The Endangered Species). Not previously published, these encompass subjects such as the Psychlo mathematics, the Gates to the Psychlo Imperial Palace, the size of the universe, an alternate ending for one of the races, and much more.
A rare interview with the author where he discusses what message he hoped to convey to Battlefield Earth readers, the role of science fiction in society, advice for new writers, further insights into his writing career, and questions on Dianetics and Scientology founded by L. Ron Hubbard.
Cover art painted by the legendary Frank Frazetta. L. Ron Hubbard called Frazetta the “King of Illustrators”—a tribute to the artist’s mastery, popularity, and enduring influence over the world of illustration. Frank Frazetta stated, “I loved illustrating action and adventure stories and no one wrote them better than L. Ron Hubbard.” (Poster available with purchase on request: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The Battlefield Earth unabridged audiobook won the Audie Award and AudioFile’s Audio Book of the Year Award.
One of the longest and most elaborate sci-fi audiobooks ever produced, this 47-hour production is in a league of its own. With a fully immersive HD soundscape, over 65 actors performing nearly 200 characters, 150,000 sound effects, and an original music score, it is like listening to a movie in your mind—pictures courtesy of your imagination.
“A vivid movie of the mind!” —AudioFile
“The sheer scope of this production of the epic sci-fi adventure Battlefield Earth is breathtaking.” —Stefan Rudnicki
“It’s like a full-blown feature film inside your head.” —Audiobook Heaven
The Science of Battlefield Earth, Interstellar Travel, and Beyond
Teleportation & Interstellar Travel
Teleportation is instant interstellar transport between galaxies. Because of the phenomena of “samespace,” the hero of Battlefield Earth learned that a transshipment rig could not teleport anything closer than twenty-five thousand miles away.
“The ‘samespace’ phenomena informed them that space ‘considered itself’ identical on the principle of nearness. By a law of squares, the farther another point in space was away, the more ‘different’ it was from the point of origin. Total difference did not occur until one reached a point approximately twenty-five thousand miles away.… But to move an object cleanly, without destruction of it or harm to the transshipment rig, one had to have two spaces to coincide with each other, and space would not do that so long as it ‘considered itself’ ‘samespace.’ You would just get a tangled mess.” —Battlefield Earth
This rig could teleport an army from the planet Psychlo to a rebellious planet and wipe out all opposition. Teleportation platforms could also send out drones with poisonous gases to kill entire populations—as was done with Earth 1,000 years before this post-apocalyptic story begins. “One gas barrage and we were in business.” —Terl, Psychlo Security Chief Earth, from Battlefield Earth (download the first 13 chapters free).
As a note, in 2017, a team of Chinese researchers “teleported” a single photon from the ground to an orbiting satellite more than 300 miles above using a process called quantum entanglement (the transportation of information rather than matter). But this sci-fi technology is not yet on the radar for space travel. Read more >>
The motors in their ground cars, freighters, and planes use similar technology to those in the teleportation rig for intergalactic travel—moving/replacing one space with another, and perforce, moving the vehicle with it.
“A Psychlo physicist named En … apparently found that space could exist entirely independent of time, energy or mass and that all these things were actually separate items. Only when combined did they make up a universe.
“Space was dependent only upon three coordinates. When one dictated a set of space coordinates one shifted space itself. Any energy or mass contained in that space thereon shifted with that space shift.” —Battlefield Earth
Science fiction has long inspired scientists and new science. Learn how science teacher Diego Martinez uses Battlefield Earth to stimulate his science students. Read more >>
The Psychlos are controlled through brain implants and neurostimulators, creating the most ruthless race throughout all known galaxies. Elon Musk’s company, Neuralink, is developing the “brain-computer interface,” science that utilizes brain implants. Read more >>
In the introduction to Battlefield Earth, L. Ron Hubbard explained the relationship between science fiction and scientists and moving technology forward: “You have satellites out there, man has walked on the moon, you have probes going to the planets, don’t you? Somebody had to dream the dream, and a lot of somebodies like those great writers of the Golden Age and later had to get an awful lot of people interested in it to make it true.” In Battlefield Earth, LRH predicted technology that is fact today. Here are just a few examples:
Flying Platforms and Ground Cars
Flying platforms and battle-worthy “ground cars” that move at high speeds or hover mere feet off the ground. Hover technology and flying cars are getting closer and closer. In China, Japan, South Korea, Germany, and the UK the principle of magnetic levitation or “maglev” is being used to develop and power trains at high speed on rails without wheels or friction. Read more >>
Social Media from Mobile Devices
Terl, the alien villain, records a short video clip of his surroundings to share with his family on Psychlo, now an everyday activity with smartphones.
“With a sudden inspiration Terl reached down into the car and grabbed the picto-recorder. He aimed it in a sweeping circle, letting it grind away. He’d send his folks a spool of this. Then they’d believe him when he said it was one horns-awful of a planet and maybe sympathize with him. ʻMy daily view,ʼ he said into the recorder as he finished the sweep.” —Battlefield Earth
Drones and Button Cameras
The Psychlo security force uses drones and button cameras. Similar tech is now standard in security systems, and drones are used for aerial video and photography.
“Terl [security chief] had tried to get Jayed involved with Chirk, his secretary. He offered Chirk wild promises if she could get Jayed into bed with her—with a button camera of the smallest size imbedded in a mole.” —Battlefield Earth
Today, the world’s smallest (button) camera is the size of a grain of sand. Read more >>
The Future of Book Reading
In his interview with the Rocky Mountain News, the L. Ron Hubbard noted that “Books, too, will change. You will be able to carry your own pocket computer library. Later, the computer will be able to ‘talk’ to you and ‘read’ to you.” And with the Kindle, iPods, and smartphones, he was correct. Read more >>
Battlefield Earth Characters
There are many characters in Battlefield Earth to love or hate. Below are excerpts from the audiobook depicting key characters that will move you while living through them vicariously:
Jonnie Goodboy Tyler
For descriptions of favorite (and not so favorite) characters such as Sir Robert the Fox, Ker, Brown Limper Staffor, Dries Gloton, and Bittie MacLeod, see the character guide in the Battlefield Earth Compendium or download a booklet with over 50 character profiles for free.
Sci-fi Weapons and Vessels in Battlefield Earth
The science fiction weapons and vessels of Battlefield Earth include the Psychlo gas drone used to wipe out humankind, the sci-fi tanks “Bash Our Way to Glory” and battle planes (Mark 32) used to finish the extermination, planet buster bombs, teleportation to materialize troops anywhere in the universe, paralyzing sound waves used by the Tolneps, and many, many more.
There are both devastating and very effective alien weaponry plus “primitive” salvaged human weapons intensified with radioactive ammunition to explode the Psychlo breathe-gas—deadly.
With aliens from 16 universes appearing in the novel, the weapons, vessels, and artifacts are vast and ingenious. See the Battlefield Earth Compendium for descriptions and images.
Aliens, Alien Invasion, and UFOs
As Battlefield Earth occurs in the aftermath of an alien invasion that occurred 1,000 years before the story begins, it is a favorite science fiction novel among followers of alien life on Earth and UFOs.
New York Times bestselling author of the Alien Agenda, Jim Marrs, said, “I am not overly concerned with the idea of an alien invasion as depicted in Battlefield Earth because UFOs have been a part of human history all the way back (think Ezekiel and the flying fiery wheel). If they wanted to invade, why wait until now, why didn’t they do that when all we had to defend ourselves with was spears.” Download Jim Marrs’ booklet Alien Invasion: Is Earth Prepared? for free.
Author and UFO/paranormal researcher Preston Dennett said, “It appears that Terl [alien villain in Battlefield Earth] may be right! Humanity, at least according to the ETs [based on testimonials from those who have encountered extraterrestrials], is an endangered species. And we may be a worse threat to ourselves than any space alien! Hopefully, we’ll listen to the warnings. And interestingly, many science fiction authors help popularize scientific advances and space travel, which could help distract us from further wars on Earth and even inspire scientific progress to prevent the global destruction.” Read more >>
From the Author, about the Authorship
L. Ron Hubbard dedicated Battlefield Earth to Robert A. Heinlein, AE van Vogt, John W. Campbell, Jr., and the crew of science fiction and fantasy writers of the Golden Age. Those who made science fiction and fantasy the respected and popular genres they are today. Read more >>
Introduction to Battlefield Earth
“Recently there came a period when I had little to do. This was novel in a life so crammed with busy years, and I decided to amuse myself by writing a novel that was pure science fiction.”
It is with these unassuming opening words L. Ron Hubbard begins his introduction to Battlefield Earth. He goes on to remind us that this work is also “the herald of possibility” and that “this novel contains practically every type of story there is—detective, spy, adventure, western, love, air war, you name it.” He added one more thing to the novel’s immense narrative range: “The term ‘science’ also includes economics and sociology and medicine where these are related to material things. So they’re in here, too.” Read more >>
Rocky Mountain News
When interviewed by the Rocky Mountain News for the launch of Battlefield Earth, L. Ron Hubbard shared his reasons for writing the book and who he hoped to reach with it. You can read the interview in the 21st Century Edition expanded content. The below are a few quotes from L. Ron Hubbard in the author interview.
“It is a statement about the human condition and the human spirit.”
“In Battlefield Earth, there is an advanced technology but it is the technology of the aliens who have conquered Earth and virtually wiped out humanity. Pitted against this is the Human Spirit … [and] the Human Spirit prevails.”
When asked what message he hoped to convey:
“That man can survive. That is the story.”
“The main point is that there is something about the human spirit that, when tapped, is greater than any technology or adversity.”
When asked who he hoped to reach:
“I wrote Battlefield Earth for those who enjoy adventure, the will to survive and the basic spirit of the individual against impossible odds.”
A Message of Peace and Hope
The inherent message of peace and hope for Man in Battlefield Earth reflects the author’s deep and personal commitment to world peace and the unification of the human race.
“Jonnie [hero of the story] stood there. Gradually his presence brought silence.
“‘It is not a declaration of war. It is a declaration of peace!
“‘I know that your economics are geared to war. I know that you consider the best way to get rid of excess population, which you feel you all have, is to engage in war.
“‘But in wars, one or another of the combatants is going to lose. Each one feels that it could not be he. But there is an even chance it will be.
“‘So, in declaring peace, we are only protecting you from each other.’”—from Battlefield Earth
L. Ron Hubbard penned the “Declaration of Peace” lyrics, featured on the Space Jazz album (below). He directed that the message be printed in gold on parchment and bestowed on his behalf to those organizations dedicated to the same end. An emotionally impacting “Shakespearean” visual recital can be seen here.
Battlefield Earth Reviews & Awards
“This has everything: suspense, pathos, politics, war, humor, diplomacy and intergalactic finance.” —Publishers Weekly
“A brilliant science fiction author.” —New York Daily News
“An unrelenting, whooping good yarn.” —Los Angeles Magazine
“This futuristic tale, featuring aliens and humans fighting for survival, comes across as compelling and believable.” —Booklist
“Recommended for all SF collections.” —Library Journal
“Tight plotting, furious action.” —Kirkus
New York Times Bestselling Authors on Battlefield Earth
“Pulse-pounding mile-a-minute sci-fi action adventure that does not stop. It is a masterpiece of popular adventure science fiction.” —Brandon Sanderson (Stormlight Archive)
“Over 1,000 pages of thrills, spills, vicious aliens, and noble humans. I found Battlefield Earth un-put-downable.” —Neil Gaiman (Good Omens)
“Battlefield Earth is a terrific story! The carefully underplayed comedy I found delicious. A masterpiece.” —Robert A. Heinlein (Starship Troopers)
“Wonderful … adventure … great characters … a masterpiece.” —A. E. van Vogt (Slan)
“Non-stop and fast-paced. Every chapter has a big bang-up adventure.” —Kevin J. Anderson (Dune novels)
“With great heroes, battles, wonders, and interstellar intrigue, this is a book that you won’t put down.” —David Farland (Runelords)
What the Readers Are Saying (Fandom)
There are over 2,000 readers who have given Battlefield Earth a 5-star rating on Amazon. Here are just a few excerpts:
“This book is at the level of the very best of Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, and Bradbury. And you will not see the end coming!” —SJP
“If you like authors like EE Doc Smith, Iain Banks, or Frank Herbert, you should check this one out.” —AA
“If you’re a Star Wars and/or Star Trek fan, you’ll enjoy the saga of Battlefield Earth.” —MC
“The second I finished this masterpiece…I just flipped back to page one and read it again! It’s way more intelligent than Star Wars.” —NA
“An epic saga with good guys you can love and bad guys you can hate. Once again Hubbard proves why he ranks right alongside Asimov, Heinlein, and Bradbury as one of the great tellers of science fiction tales.” —PK
“One of the three greatest science fiction books of all time, along with The Foundation Trilogy (3 books really) and Ender’s Game.” —AM
“I cannot help but repeatedly make comparisons (in that epic sense) between Battlefield Earth and the LOTR [Lord of the Rings] books.” —ST
“It have read it at least seven times, and I continue to refer others I know to read it. It is a definite must-read, an all-time classic on par with Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.” —AC
Science Fiction Award Winner
Described by science fiction legend Robert A. Heinlein as “A masterpiece,” the 428,750-word Battlefield Earth novel was not only an international bestseller, but the recipient of multiple international literary awards.
In addition to both the Academy of Science Fiction’s Saturn Award and a special Gutenberg Award as an exceptional contribution to the genre, the work has earned Italy’s Tetradramma D’Oro Award in recognition of the story’s inherent message of peace as well as the Audie Award for the companion full-cast, unabridged 47-hour audiobook.
Battlefield Earth has been used as an educational resource for science fiction in Language Arts. Lexile has graded it at L780, it is included in the Accelerated Reader program (AR 5.8 / 62 points), and the Guided Reading Level is GRL Z+.
“Battlefield Earth has earned its place as a potential required reading book for many reasons. Science fiction is well represented in the genres chosen because both readers and educators enjoy the lessons that can be taught from it.” —Dr. David Powers, educator, and bestselling author
“The novel Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 by L. Ron Hubbard is one book that will meet the requirements for what could be considered a complete learning experience for the student and a complete teaching experience for the teacher.” —Fred R. Eichelman, EdD
“A key plot point hinges on when—or whether—Jonnie will be able to figure out how to build a particular circuit. As much as my boys enjoy tinkering with circuits, there’s just something so much more exciting about a hero in a book using it to save the day (and especially when he’s using it in a way that we can relate to in our current culture of technology). Want to get your kids excited about STEM? Battlefield Earth would give you the talking points to bring up with your kids … but you won’t need to. They’ll already be talking about it.” —Sandra Girouard, homeschool teacher
Battlefield Earth Educator’s Guide includes:
Lesson plan outline
Topical issues: perceptions, government foundation, economics, the value of learning, and overcoming adversity
Book clubs throughout the world have selected Battlefield Earth. It is for readers of adventure / science fiction, who want to be immersed in a dystopian world of the year 3000. Download the book club discussion questions.
“4 out of 4 stars. Fast paced. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy good science fiction and like having a well-defined hero. If you appreciate classic science fiction, you will relish this book. It is for readers seeking heroes, adventure, aliens, and sci-fi technology. I include young adults in my recommendation.” —OnlineBookClub.org
Listen to the first hour of the unabridged audiobook for free.
The Battlefield EarthSpace Jazz Album
Battlefield Earth served as the inspiration for the first-ever musical soundtrack to a book. Aptly entitled Space Jazz and reflecting the mood of a futuristic Earth grown primitive following an alien assault, the album offers thirteen compositions based upon significant events and characters from the novel. To best convey the sweeping saga, the album utilized elements from several genres—from honky-tonk and free-swinging jazz to cutting-edge electronic rock. The result was a wholly new dimension in space opera sound, and what critics declared as a most “auspicious recording debut.” For more information about L. Ron Hubbard as a “music maker,” go to LRonHubbard.org.
Art Inspired by Battlefield Earth
During the Golden Age of Science Fiction, L. Ron Hubbard’s stories inspired a myriad of artists. This tradition continued with the release of Battlefield Earth (and his magnum opus, Mission Earth, in the 1980s). Distinguished international artists have captured the excitement and grandeur of this epic intergalactic science fiction adventure. A selection of their visions is still available in the form of limited edition fine art prints. Check them out here. Read more >>
The Battlefield Earth Movie
Battlefield Earth was released as a movie in 2000, spearheaded by John Travolta as the co-producer.
Who directed Battlefield Earth? Roger Christian, who won an Academy Award for his work on the original Star Wars (second unit director under George Lucas, who helped build R2D2). He was also nominated for an Oscar for his work on Alien.
Roger wanted to create something original and unique for Battlefield Earth with a limited budget. The Dutch angles, costumes, and set designs were all done on purpose in the style of a graphic novel. That was his vision—a graphic novel movie to reflect this epic science fiction adventure novel authored by one of the greatest pulp fiction writers.
Listen to a podcast interview with Roger Christian to find out about the challenges he faced in bringing the book to the big screen.
The movie is loosely based on the novel′s first half, up to the point of the first human counterattack on the Psychlo home planet.
The Battlefield Earth cast included John Travolta as Terl, Forest Whitaker as Ker, Barry Pepper as Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, and a cameo with Kelly Preston as Chirk, a female Psychlo.
“When I read the book, I thought Terl was hilarious. There’s never been a villain like this, where you’re watching him do this kind of thing without a twinge of remorse or inner reflection. To me, that’s one of the most unusual parts of the movie, and works just as well as the book did. It’s quite a fresh piece. It almost reminds me of Pulp Fiction 3000; it’s weird that way.” —John Travolta (from an interview with Cinescape Magazine)
“It takes someone who knows science fiction as both a literary art form and a visual medium of constant change and experimentation to understand the cinema of the fantastic. The myriad of metaphors and mysteries in science fiction that raise important questions about the nature of man and his place in the universe are far more complex than those which ask whether Tom Hanks will fall in love with Meg Ryan or save the embattled Private Ryan before the end of the film.” —Dr. John L. Flynn (from his authoritative report The Irony of Negative Reviews: Creating SF Cult Classics) Read more >>
Battlefield Earth Publishing History
What year did Battlefield Earth come out? 1982 and it has been in continual publication since.
Here are a few of the editions:
Hardcover First Edition 1982
First Edition Paperback 1984
2000 Movie Edition
20th Anniversary Edition
21st Century Edition
The complete list of English and translated editions can be seen here.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is Battlefield Earth?
Battlefield Earth is 393,466 words, 1072 pages.
What year did Battlefield Earth come out?
Battlefield Earth was published in 1982.
What is Battlefield Earth based on?
The premise for the plot is the 1977 NASA launch of the space probe Voyager 1 to find out if there is intelligent life beyond our planet. It is discovered by an alien race who is proving just how terrifying intelligent life can be, scorching and stripping Earth of its natural resources and all but wiping out the entire human race.