Search Results for: fiction

Xenu’s Paradox: The Fiction of L. Ron Hubbard and the Making of Scientology

Longreads Pick

Author Alec Nevala-Lee surveys the fiction of L. Ron Hubbard, gaining new insights into the life of the founder of dianetics and the origins and nature of Scientology itself.

Source: Longreads
Published: Feb 1, 2017
Length: 30 minutes (7,744 words)

Xenu’s Paradox: The Fiction of L. Ron Hubbard and the Making of Scientology

Illustration by Pat Barrett

Alec Nevala-Lee | Longreads | February 2017 | 28 minutes (7,744 words)

 

I.

L. Ron Hubbard published over four million words of fiction in his lifetime, but his most famous story consists of just a few handwritten pages. Before their contents were leaked in the early ’70s, they could be viewed at the Advanced Organization Building of the Church of Scientology, a hulking blue edifice off Sunset Boulevard where visitors were handed a manila envelope to open in a private room. Most had paid thousands of dollars for the privilege, which made it by far the most lucrative story Hubbard, or perhaps anyone, ever wrote—a spectacular rate for a writer who spent much of his career earning a penny per word.

The story itself, which has become more familiar than Hubbard or any of his disciples ever intended, revolves around the figure of Xenu, the tyrannical dictator of the Galactic Confederation. Millions of years ago, Xenu, faced with an overpopulation crisis, threw hordes of his own people into volcanoes on the planet Earth—then known as Teegeeack—and blew them up with atomic bombs. Their spirits, called thetans, survive to the present day, clinging to unsuspecting humans, and they can only be removed through dianetic auditing, a form of talk therapy that clears the subject of its unwanted passengers.

One of the church members who read this account was screenwriter and director Paul Haggis, who was a devoted Scientologist for over three decades before resigning in an ugly public split. Haggis told Lawrence Wright, the author of the seminal New Yorker piece that became the exposé Going Clear, that after finishing the story, he got the wild idea that it was some sort of insanity test—if you believed it, you were kicked out. When he asked his supervisor for clarification, he was informed: “It is what it is.” Haggis read it again, but the same thought continued to resound in his brain: “This is madness.” Read more…

Fiction Confidential

Longreads Pick

Before he became the patron saint of every tattooed-chef-in-a-gentrifying-neighborhood, Anthony Bourdain wrote novels. What can they tell us about the man behind the bad-boy persona?

Source: Eater
Published: Jan 25, 2017
Length: 17 minutes (4,333 words)

The City Born Great: Fiction by N.K. Jemisin

Longreads Pick

When I relax my hands and open my eyes to see Paulo striding along the bridge toward me with another goddamned cigarette between his lips, I fleetingly see him for what he is again: the sprawling thing from my dream, all sparkling spires and reeking slums and stolen rhythms made over with genteel cruelty. I know that he glimpses what I am, too, all the bright light and bluster of me. Maybe he’s always seen it, but there is admiration in his gaze now, and I like it. He comes to help support me with his shoulder, and he says, “Congratulations,” and I grin.

I live the city. It thrives and it is mine. I am its worthy avatar, and together? We will never be afraid again.

Source: Tor
Published: Sep 30, 2016
Length: 24 minutes (6,247 words)

The City Born Great: Fiction by N.K. Jemisin

Photo by Jules Antonio CCBY SA 2.0

This is the lesson: Great cities are like any other living things, being born and maturing and wearying and dying in their turn.

Duh, right? Everyone who’s visited a real city feels that, one way or another. All those rural people who hate cities are afraid of something legit; cities really are different. They make a weight on the world, a tear in the fabric of reality, like . . . like black holes, maybe. Yeah. (I go to museums sometimes. They’re cool inside, and Neil deGrasse Tyson is hot.) As more and more people come in and deposit their strangeness and leave and get replaced by others, the tear widens. Eventually it gets so deep that it forms a pocket, connected only by the thinnest thread of . . . something to . . . something. Whatever cities are made of.

But the separation starts a process, and in that pocket the many parts of the city begin to multiply and differentiate. Its sewers extend into places where there is no need for water. Its slums grow teeth; its art centers, claws. Ordinary things within it, traffic and construction and stuff like that, start to have a rhythm like a heartbeat, if you record their sounds and play them back fast. The city . . . quickens.

At Tor.com, read The City Born Great, new fiction from N.K. Jemisin, winner of a Hugo award for her novel, The Fifth Season.

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The Office Politics of Workplace Fiction by Women

Longreads Pick

Women perform so many of the essential duties that compose modern bureaucracy. It’s about time the subset of American fiction you might call “office literature” started to reflect that.

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Jul 27, 2016
Length: 9 minutes (2,317 words)

A Reading List of International Nonfiction Comics

Below is a guest reading list from Daniel A. Gross, a journalist and public radio producer who lives in Boston.

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Comic books bridge continents. Superman spin-offs are a hit in China; Japanese manga trickled into American culture through Frank Miller’s Ronin and even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Adventures of Tintin was translated from French into more than 50 languages. Alongside the superhero franchises and funny pages, a thriving genre of nonfiction comics has created new audiences and new appreciation for everything from war reporting to memoir. Here are five modern classics whose intricate illustrations have shaped the form.

1. Joe Sacco, “The Fixer and Other Stories”

The Fixer is a war story set in peacetime. In 2001, Joe Sacco traveled to Sarajevo, hoping to find the interpreter who’d helped him during the Yugoslav Wars. By this time, correspondents had cleared out and soldiers had become civilians. Memories of atrocity were starting to slip beneath the surface—but Sacco’s book excavates them. During one flashback, Sacco portrays his wartime arrival to Sarajevo, and it’s styled like film noir: hulking architecture, empty streets, long shadows. In a surreal scene at the Holiday Inn, the concierge points to the hotel on a city map. “This is the front line,” she says. “Don’t ever walk here.” Then, in the lobby, Sacco meets his fixer. Read more…