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Old mother Hubbard - visionary

15/12/2005. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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Was SFF author and Scientologist King L. Ron Hubbard a visionary. There's some that think so.

Science fiction or science fact? From robot drones and remote-controlled humans to fully immersing learning machines and micro-sized cameras, today it all depends on when you read about it and what you read it in.

The upcoming 20th anniversary paperback edition of Battlefield Earth by author and and Scientologist leader, L. Ron Hubbard, offers a case in point.

The longest single science fiction novel in history, Battlefield Earth pre-dates several of today's technological advances. Long before the plugged-in learning scenes of Neo in The Matrix, the holodeck environments of Star Trek: Next Generation, or the planetary projections in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Battlefield Earth - according to a statement issued today - predicted the use of:

Interactive, multimedia DVDs - a decade before the format was introduced, Hubbard envisioned "disc learning machines" to teach the book's hero about the language and culture of his alien captors, the Psychlos;

- Button cameras - fictional forerunners of today's miniaturized digital surveillance cameras commonly used for spying allow the novel's aliens to conduct remote surveillance of their captives;

- Real-time imaging systems - Hubbard's "atmosphere projectors" provided highly advanced, three-dimensional, holographic projections of entire environments, strikingly similar to imaging systems used in war operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

The 20th anniversary paperback edition of Hubbard's novel - nearly 430,000 words long - is being released by Galaxy Press this month, with the original text and a cluster of special commemorative design features.

Battlefield Earth has sold more than 8,500,000 copies in 26 languages around the world since its initial publication in October, 1982. During his prolific 55-year professional writing career, L. Ron Hubbard published 250 works of fiction in genres ranging from adventure, western, detective/mystery and suspense to science fiction and fantasy, and had 19 New York Times bestsellers.

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