Chris Ware/Getty Images
Chris Ware/Getty Images

10 L. Ron Hubbard Stories With Fantastic Titles

Chris Ware/Getty Images
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.

Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Sylvia Plath's Pulitzer Prize in Poetry Is Up for Auction
Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Nate D. Sanders Auctions

A Pulitzer Prize in Poetry that was awarded posthumously to Sylvia Plath in 1982 for her book The Collected Poems will be auctioned on June 28. The Los Angeles-based Nate D. Sanders Auctions says bidding for the literary document will start at $40,000.

The complete book of Plath’s poetry was published in 1981—18 years after her death—and was edited by her husband, fellow poet Ted Hughes. The Pulitzer Prize was presented to Hughes on Plath’s behalf, and one of two telegrams sent by Pulitzer President Michael Sovern to Hughes read, “We’ve just heard that the Collected Plath has won the Pulitzer Prize. Congratulations to you for making it possible.” The telegrams will also be included in the lot, in addition to an official congratulatory letter from Sovern.

The Pultizer’s jury report from 1982 called The Collected Poems an “extraordinary literary event.” It went on to write, “Plath won no major prizes in her lifetime, and most of her work has been posthumously published … The combination of metaphorical brilliance with an effortless formal structure makes this a striking volume.”

Ted Hughes penned an introduction to the poetry collection describing how Plath had “never scrapped any of her poetic efforts,” even if they weren’t all masterpieces. He wrote:

“Her attitude to her verse was artisan-like: if she couldn’t get a table out of the material, she was quite happy to get a chair, or even a toy. The end product for her was not so much a successful poem, as something that had temporarily exhausted her ingenuity. So this book contains not merely what verse she saved, but—after 1956—all she wrote.”

Also up for auction is Plath’s Massachusetts driver’s license from 1958, at which time she went by the name Sylvia P. Hughes. Bidding for the license will begin at $8000.

Plath's driver's license
Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
New 'Eye Language' Lets Paralyzed People Communicate More Easily
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0

The invention of sign language proved you don't need to vocalize to use complex language face to face. Now, a group of designers has shown that you don't even need control of your hands: Their new type of language for paralyzed people relies entirely on the eyes.

As AdAge reports, "Blink to Speak" was created by the design agency TBWA/India for the NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute and the Asha Ek Hope Foundation. The language takes advantage of one of the few motor functions many paralyzed people have at their disposal: eye movement. Designers had a limited number of moves to work with—looking up, down, left, or right; closing one or both eyes—but they figured out how to use these building blocks to create a sophisticated way to get information across. The final product consists of eight alphabets and messages like "get doctor" and "entertainment" meant to facilitate communication between patients and caregivers.

Inside of a language book.
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

This isn't the only tool that allows paralyzed people to "speak" through facial movements, but unlike most other options currently available, Blink to Speak doesn't require any expensive technology. The project's potential impact on the lives of people with paralysis earned it the Health Grand Prix for Good at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity earlier in June.

The groups behind Blink to Speak have produced thousands of print copies of the language guide and have made it available online as an ebook. To learn the language yourself or share it with someone you know, you can download it for free here.

[h/t AdAge]


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