The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

L. Ron Hubbard wrote the stories contained in Ole Doc Methuselah under the name René Lafayette. He reserved this pseudonym almost exclusively for these stories, having used it on only one other occasion, for a short novel titled “The Indigestible Triton,” published in the April, 1940, issue of Unknown. The stories in Ole Doc Methuselah were published individually in Astounding Science-Fiction between 1947 and 1950, at the same time that Hubbard’s novel-length story “The End Is Not Yet” was being serialized. The Methuselah stories were also reprinted in a 1992 edition.

The plots in these seven stories are similar. Ole Doc Methuselah is the nickname for the most famous member of the Universal Medical Society (UMS), an elite group of seven hundred “soldiers of light” who restrict knowledge about specialized medicine from spreading to the rest of the universe. This society was formed in the late twenty-third century after biological warfare had killed nearly 2 billion humans. The members of the UMS have dedicated themselves to the preservation of the human race and travel the universe fighting disease, old age, and psychological disorders. They are forbidden from meddling in political issues, and they are not subject to any political organization.

In each story, Ole Doc Methuselah encounters some kind of crisis. Often he is drawn into the crisis unawares. Occasionally, he encounters a crisis while...

(The entire section is 538 words.)