A little while ago, I decided to give Battlefield Earth a re-read.
I am of course well aware of its author's other activities. I'm also well aware of the film adaptation's reputation as possibly the worst film ever made. However, I remember being quite fond of the book when I first read it (I received it as a confirmation present from my grandparents when I was 14...yeah, I know...), and I just thought I'd see if it still stands up well. 160 pages or so in, and it's going pretty well. It's distinctly possible that some of the science is a wee bit duff (I remember Dave Langford, in his column in SFX, drawing attention to one particularly weak bit, although I don't remember exactly what), and the attempts to phonetically capture a Scottish accent are possibly a bit suspect, but yes, I'm enjoying it. The short chapters help considerably, both at a practical level (it's useful to be able to put the book down and go and get on with some work) and at a literary level, in maintaining a sense of pace and urgency. The prose style reminds me more than a little of J K Rowling - it's fairly straightforward, matter-of-fact, tells you what you need to know. There's stuff I'm picking up on now that I probably didn't when I first read it. Probably the most glaring problem I have with it is that sometimes the viewpoint character shifts from one paragraph to another - one minute he's telling the story from Terl's pov, the next we shift to Jonnie, then back to Terl again. Which is a bit ouch-inducing. But apart from that, I strongly suspect that this is a book which, over time, has had its reputation dragged down by Hubbard's...other activities (oh, stuff it - scientology) and by the film. It's a cracking fun