Friday, August 16, 2013

Forgotten Books: Spy Killer - L. Ron Hubbard

During the Thirties, L. Ron Hubbard wrote in just about pulp genre that existed. “Spy Killer”, from the April 1936 issue of FIVE-NOVELS MONTHLY, is a short novel of Oriental intrigue reminiscent of some stories I’ve read by H. Bedford-Jones.  Two-fisted American sailor Kurt Reid is framed for murder when his ship docks in Shanghai.  He’s helped to escape by a Chinese warlord who demands in return that Reid assassinate a mysterious Japanese spy.  Throw in a beautiful White Russian adventuress and the equally beautiful daughter of a British merchant, each of them with agendas of their own, a few double-crosses, the Japanese army, and Reid is up to his neck in trouble.  I don’t think this yarn is quite as good as the Westerns I've read by Hubbard, but it’s still pretty entertaining.

The scan of the original pulp issue is from the invaluable Fictionmags Index. It's from a damaged copy but the only image I could find on-line.


Walker Martin said...

Because of the SF novels recently written by Hubbard that have appeared over the past 20 or so years, he has been often criticized as being a hack, etc. However I'm really not sure that he wrote these novels and there is a good chance they were ghost written.

On the other hand, some of his pulp fiction is quite well done. In addition to the westerns he did some fine work for UNKNOWN WORLDS like FEAR and TYPEWRITER IN THE SKY. In ASTOUNDING I think FINAL BLACKOUT to be outstanding.

James Reasoner said...

Hubbard's pulp stuff is all I'm interested in. I wouldn't even attempt to read those doorstopper SF novels. They're just too long for me these days.

Cap'n Bob said...

I urge people not to buy this. The profits go to the cult he established.

Kelly Robinson said...

Cap'n Bob: That's what used copies are for.

Kurt Reichenbaugh said...

Several years ago I read Strange Angel, about John Whiteside Parsons, that had several chapters exploring his relationship with L. Ron Hubbard and their "dabbling" with magic and the teachings of Aleister Crowley. Also of the science fiction community's somewhat low opinion of Hubbard's behavior at the time.

Cap'n Bob said...

Before they were used, someone bought them new.

Hubbard joined Parsons--sponged off of him, actually--and they practiced witchcraft, often drugging women for their orgies. Hubbard repaid Parsons by stealing his girlfriend and entering into a bigamous marriage with her. S-F fans and authors have plenty of good reasons for their low opinions of the bum.