by Tony Otega, Village voice. 12th March 2012
On the eve of L. Ron Hubbard's 101st birthday, we have a story which brings together several themes we've been dealing with here lately -- Scientology's alleged abuses, its "secular" front groups, and its attempts to promote the reputation of its founder.
In February, I noticed an interesting blog post by the writer Jim Hines. Jim lives in Michigan, and is the author of the 2006 novel Goblin Quest and half a dozen other books in the fantasy vein. Like other toilers in the science fiction and fantasy field, Hines got his start by winning a contest in the genre.
In 1998, his short story "Blade of the Bunny" was selected as a quarterly winner of the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. Along with other winners that year, Hines was celebrated at a gala event on September 24, 1999, which was held at the offices of Author Services, Inc., the literary agency for Hubbard's works.
For a young, unpublished author like Hines, it was a big step early in his career.
But last month, Hines wrote at his LiveJournal account
that he and other writers are beginning to have concerns about the Hubbard contest.
When the subject of Scientology came up, we were told that the contest and its finances were completely separate from the church. That's something I've repeated to other writers more than once. I'm no longer certain this is true.
Turns out, he didn't know the half of it.
The "L. Ron Hubbard presents Writers of the Future" and Illustrators of the Future contests are prestigious and lucrative. They feature judges who are among the biggest names in the field, and they've helped launch the careers of important new artists.
Over the years, however, questions have been raised about the contests and their connection to Scientology. And those questions are getting more pointed with news of the church's abuses increasingly reaching the public -- such as Debbie Cook's recent court testimony about the torture of church executives at "The Hole," an office-prison at Scientology's California international headquarters.
But is there really any connection between a science fiction contest's glitzy parties in Los Angeles and the shocking abuse going on at the church's headquarters about 90 miles away?
The Voice has learned that the connection between the two is disturbingly close.[...continues in article link...]