Mission Earth, Volume VIII

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

At the beginning of this volume it appeared that Jettero Heller’s roller-coaster campaign to save the Earth from the cumulative effects of centuries of environmental abuse might at last be on the verge of success. Admittedly, there was a bit of bother when a runaway chunk of ice from space accidentally wiped out the whole of the Soviet Union, but other than that Heller’s plan seems to be on schedule.

So much so, in fact, that Heller and the Countess Krak, his lover, decide to return to Voltar, their home planet, for a short visit to inform the Emperor of the Voltarian Confederacy, Cling the Lofty, of the treasonous activities on Earth of Lombar Hisst, who, in his role as the head of the secret police, is planning to overthrow the Voltarian government. Unfortunately for Heller and Krak, however, Hisst has not confined his seditious activities to Earth, and upon their return they are instantly placed in jeopardy. Soon the intrepid pair are on the lam back to Earth with a drug-dependent Cling the Lofty as an unexpected passenger. Once back on Earth, Heller learns that the truly evil Delbert John Rockecenter, whose industrial empire is threatened by Heller’s environmentalist activities, threatens to foil once again Heller’s altruistic scheme for the salvation of Earth. Heller soon finds himself in Rockecenter’s clutches, faced with imminent death.

As this series approaches its conclusion, at least two questions compete for an answer. The various works which together compose MISSION EARTH are presented as satire, yet the reader cannot help but wonder on occasion whether the subject of Hubbard’s satire is American society or the space opera/pulp adventure medium within which he was the unchallenged master for so long. There is also the question of the authorship of the series. Hubbard died shortly after the release of the first volume. The publisher assures the reader that the series was complete before his death, but those who have pursued the adventures of Heller and Gris from the beginning may detect subtle changes beginning with volume 5. Variations in the original style may indicate that someone else is working from a detailed outline written by Hubbard. Still, this volume will undoubtedly appeal to those who are committed to pursue the cycle to its conclusion.