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10 L. Ron Hubbard Stories With Fantastic Titles

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Chris Ware/Getty Images

As the founder of the Church of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard has been called “a great philosopher” by some and “a cult leader” by many others. But two decades before he introduced the concept of Scientology, and even 20 years before he unleashed Dianetics on the world, Hubbard was busy churning out up 100,000 words per month as one of the most prolific pulp fiction and sci-fi writers of the 20th century. (In 2006, he was awarded a Guinness World Record for Most Published Works by One Author.)

After getting his start in 1931 as a reporter for The University Hatchet, the student newspaper of George Washington University, where Hubbard was an undergrad, he abandoned school altogether in order to nurture his burgeoning writing career. It didn't take long for Hubbard to find work. By the end of the decade, Hubbard had published approximately 140 stories—many of them under his own name, but others under a variety of inventive pen names, including Winchester Remington Colt, Bernard Hubbel, Legionnaire 148, and even Captain L. Ron Hubbard. Even more imaginative than his pseudonyms were the titles he conjured up for these stories.

1. DEAD MEN KILL (1934)

Long before Rick Grimes existed, Detective Terry Lane learned the hard way that the dead don’t always stay that way. Thinking that he’s on the trail of a killer, Lane instead is forced to fend off an onslaught of pugilistic corpses who want to put him six feet under. Publishers Weekly calls it a “rollicking horror yarn [that] just happens to tap into the current craze for zombies.”


Originally published in Dime Adventure Magazine, Starch and Stripes mixes politics and pacification as a group of Marines enact a plan to take down a dangerous warlord at the same time that a group of high-powered political figures arrive to inspect their camp.


After escaping from Devil’s Island, Lars Marlin manages to land himself a gig on a luxury yacht. And it’s there that he comes face to face with Paco Covino, the man who put him away in the first place. With nowhere to go but overboard, Marlin attempts to unravel whatever plot he knows Covino is hatching.


One of Hubbard’s most critically acclaimed efforts, Typewriter in the Sky is a novel that takes a meta approach, telling the tale of a piano player who unwittingly becomes a character in his friend’s adventure novel and whose future then lies in how the novel ends. In the years since its publishing, both Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo and Marc Forster’s Stranger Than Fiction have been compared to Typewriter in the Sky.


Regardless of what Dead Men Kill said, not all corpses are mean. Just as the title indicates, in The Case of the Friendly Corpse, they’re downright hospitable. Jules Riley is a student of ancient languages who inadvertently gets trapped in another dimension when he switches places with Achmed el Abd Mahmud, a sorcerer and recent graduate of the Order of Necromancers.


An alley cat exacts revenge on sheepish Jacob Findley, the titular feline-hater, after Findley sees to it that the cat meets his end under the wheels of a passing car.


This story, published in Astounding Science Fiction under the pen name René Lafayette, is the third in Hubbard’s “Ole Doc Methuselah” series. And while it may sound like a Bizarro version of a James Bond tale, it’s actually a sci-fi yarn that sees our hero, Ole Doc, save the planet of Dorcon from its mad queen—and restore the queen’s sanity, too.


Hubbard based The Automagic Horse partly on his own experiences writing for Hollywood. It tells the story of a special effects wizard, “Gadget” O’Dowd, who builds a mechanical version of the great thoroughbred Man O’ War for a movie, then enters it into an actual horse race at Santa Anita—and wins. But the plot thickens when it’s discovered that all of this is an elaborate ruse to hide what Gadget is really building: a spaceship.


Originally published in Texas Rangers Magazine under the pseudonym Winchester Remington Colt, Man for Breakfast is a vigilante story about Johnny Purcell, a robbery victim who will stop at nothing to see that he gets justice for his suffering.

10. THE WERE-HUMAN (1981)

Following the release of Dianetics in 1950, most of Hubbard’s literary output was Scientology-based texts. The Were-Human, published in The Fantasy Book in October of 1981, is one of his rare late fictions. It’s about the transformation of a human into something entirely different, not unlike a werewolf, but technically a were-human.

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15 Powerful Quotes From Margaret Atwood
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It turns out the woman behind such eerily prescient novels as The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake is just as wise as her tales are haunting. Here are 15 of the most profound quips from author, activist, and Twitter enthusiast Margaret Atwood, who was born on this day in 1939.

1. On her personal philosophy

 “Optimism means better than reality; pessimism means worse than reality. I’m a realist.”

— From a 2004 interview with The Guardian

2. On the reality of being female

“Men often ask me, Why are your female characters so paranoid? It’s not paranoia. It’s recognition of their situation.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

3. On limiting how her politics influence her characters

“You know the myth: Everybody had to fit into Procrustes’ bed and if they didn’t, he either stretched them or cut off their feet. I’m not interested in cutting the feet off my characters or stretching them to make them fit my certain point of view.”

— From a 1997 interview with Mother Jones

4. On so-called “pretty” works of literature

“I don’t know whether there are any really pretty novels … All of the motives a human being may have, which are mixed, that’s the novelists’ material. … We like to think of ourselves as really, really good people. But look in the mirror. Really look. Look at your own mixed motives. And then multiply that.”

— From a 2010 interview with The Progressive

5. On the artist’s relationship with her fans

“The artist doesn’t necessarily communicate. The artist evokes … [It] actually doesn’t matter what I feel. What matters is how the art makes you feel.”

— From a 2004 interview with The Guardian

6. On the challenges of writing non-fiction

“When I was young I believed that ‘nonfiction’ meant ‘true.’ But you read a history written in, say, 1920 and a history of the same events written in 1995 and they’re very different. There may not be one Truth—there may be several truths—but saying that is not to say that reality doesn’t exist.”

— From a 1997 interview with Mother Jones

7. On poetry

“The genesis of a poem for me is usually a cluster of words. The only good metaphor I can think of is a scientific one: dipping a thread into a supersaturated solution to induce crystal formation.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

8. On being labeled an icon

“All these things set a standard of behavior that you don’t necessarily wish to live up to. If you’re put on a pedestal you’re supposed to behave like a pedestal type of person. Pedestals actually have a limited circumference. Not much room to move around.”

— From a 2013 interview with The Telegraph

9. On how we’re all born writers

“[Everyone] ‘writes’ in a way; that is, each person has a ‘story’—a personal narrative—which is constantly being replayed, revised, taken apart and put together again. The significant points in this narrative change as a person ages—what may have been tragedy at 20 is seen as comedy or nostalgia at 40.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

10. On the oppression at the center of The Handmaid's Tale

“Nothing makes me more nervous than people who say, ‘It can’t happen here. Anything can happen anywhere, given the right circumstances.” 

— From a 2015 lecture to West Point cadets

11. On the discord between men and women

“‘Why do men feel threatened by women?’ I asked a male friend of mine. … ‘They’re afraid women will laugh at them,’ he said. ‘Undercut their world view.’ … Then I asked some women students in a poetry seminar I was giving, ‘Why do women feel threatened by men?’ ‘They’re afraid of being killed,’ they said.”

— From Atwood’s Second Words: Selected Critical Prose, 1960-1982

12. On the challenges of expressing oneself

“All writers feel struck by the limitations of language. All serious writers.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

13. On selfies

“I say they should enjoy it while they can. You’ll be happy later to have taken pictures of yourself when you looked good. It’s human nature. And it does no good to puritanically say, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t be doing that,’ because people do.”

— From a 2013 interview with The Telegraph

14. On the value of popular kids' series (à la Harry Potter and Percy Jackson)

"It put a lot of kids onto reading; it made reading cool. I’m sure a lot of later adult book clubs came out of that experience. Let people begin where they are rather than pretending that they’re something else, or feeling that they should be something else."

— From a 2014 interview with The Huffington Post

15. On why even the bleakest post-apocalyptic novels are, deep down, full of hope

“Any novel is hopeful in that it presupposes a reader. It is, actually, a hopeful act just to write anything, really, because you’re assuming that someone will be around to [read] it.”

— From a 2011 interview with The Atlantic 

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China's New Tianjin Binhai Library is Breathtaking—and Full of Fake Books
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A massive new library in Tianjin, China, is gaining international fame among bibliophiles and design buffs alike. As Arch Daily reports, the five-story Tianjin Binhai Library has capacity for more than 1 million books, which visitors can read in a spiraling, modernist auditorium with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

Several years ago, municipal officials in Tianjin commissioned a team of Dutch and Japanese architects to design five new buildings, including the library, for a cultural center in the city’s Binhai district. A glass-covered public corridor connects these structures, but the Tianjin Binhai Library is still striking enough to stand out on its own.

The library’s main atrium could be compared to that of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum in New York City. But there's a catch: Its swirling bookshelves don’t actually hold thousands of books. Look closer, and you’ll notice that the shelves are printed with digital book images. About 200,000 real books are available in other rooms of the library, but the jaw-dropping main room is primarily intended for socialization and reading, according to Mashable.

The “shelves”—some of which can also serve as steps or seating—ascend upward, curving around a giant mirrored sphere. Together, these elements resemble a giant eye, prompting visitors to nickname the attraction “The Eye of Binhai,” reports Newsweek. In addition to its dramatic main auditorium, the 36,000-square-foot library also contains reading rooms, lounge areas, offices, and meeting spaces, and has two rooftop patios.

Following a three-year construction period, the Tianjin Binhai Library opened on October 1, 2017. Want to visit, but can’t afford a trip to China? Take a virtual tour by checking out the photos below.

A general view of the Tianjin Binhai Library

People visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.

A general view of China's Tianjin Binhai Library.

A woman taking pictures at China's Tianjin Binhai Library.

A man visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.

A woman looking at books at China's Tianjin Binhai Library.

A general view of China's Tianjin Binhai Library.

People visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.

[h/t Newsweek]


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