Mission Earth, Volume VII

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

As this seventh volume of L. Ron Hubbard’s ten-volume series opens, the reader is once again assailed by feelings of deja vu. Soltan Gris, dispatched to Earth by the head of the Voltarian secret police, Lombar Hisst, to foil the plans of Jettero Heller, another Voltarian, to save the planet from ecological disaster, is in the process of weaving another tangled web designed to snare Heller. Heller, aided by several unknowing inhabitants of Earth as well as by his lover, the infamous Countess Krak, continues to escape from Gris and the host of villains Gris has recruited. In short, after six volumes of MISSION EARTH, Gris is still a failure, and Heller, despite one setback after another, continues to make progress toward his ultimate goal of saving the Earth from itself. Moreover, Gris has managed to place himself in such imminent peril that seemingly only a miracle can save him.

Not only does Gris survive, however, but by the end of the book he has also managed to capture the Countess Krak, and Heller is seemingly dead as a result of an ambush arranged by Gris. Gris can now return to Voltar a hero, but both Earth and Voltar are doomed to suffer the vengeance of the sinister Lombar Hisst, a Volarian scheming to usurp the throne, and the perverted Delbert John Rockecenter, who owns many of Earth’s profitable but ecologically damaging industries.

Heller, whose innocence borders on the implausible, is prone perpetually to stumble into trouble and yet emerge victorious, whereas Gris is unable to boil water without causing a conflagration which exceeds the damage attributed to Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. Hubbard may have intended Heller to be the hero of this series, but the reader’s sympathies tend to go out to the bumbling, inept, and thoroughly disreputable Gris.