Scientology's Writers of the Future Contest: Troubling Ties to Abuse in the Church

WOTFCover15.jpg
The 1999 anthology with Hines' story
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For a young, unpublished author like Hines, it was a big step early in his career.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.


Part 1: The Firewall

L. Ron Hubbard's reputation as a writer rests primarily on his output in the 1930s and 1940s, when he wrote for the pulps and generated a huge amount of genre writing. In 1950, he shifted gears with his new "science" of the mind, Dianetics, which his friend John W. Campbell published in an issue of Astounding Science Fiction. [For more about Dianetics and the basics of the church Hubbard went on to found, please see our primer, "What is Scientology?"]

For the next few decades, Hubbard had his hands full developing Dianetics into Scientology, sailing the Mediterranean and Atlantic, and then dealing with the FBI's unwanted interest in his affairs.

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Then, in 1980, Hubbard suddenly came back to science fiction. He wrote Battlefield Earth that year, and the lengthy tale of man as an endangered species at the hands of the Psychlos was eventually published by St. Martin's Press in 1982.

By that year, Hubbard had become such a recluse, his own son sued for his inheritance, saying that his father must have died. But Hubbard was still very much alive -- he made enough of an appearance to have the lawsuit dismissed, and in 1983, Hubbard created the Writers of the Future Contest as he pushed on with his next science fiction project, the Mission Earth novels, which would begin to be published in 1985.

These latter-day works may have been eviscerated by critics, but in the contest, Hubbard seemed to have come up with a wonderful idea.

Four times a year, a quarterly winner and a couple of runners-up are named, with prizes of $1,000, $750, and $500, respectively. Then, before the annual gala, one of the quarterly winners is chosen for the L. Ron Hubbard Gold Award, and today receives $5,000. (Entering the contest costs nothing, and is open to newer writers who have only had a few things published or nothing at all.) In 1988, an Illustrators of the Future contest was added.

Besides winning prize money and being feted at a gala, winners have their stories appear in an anthology, which also includes a few pieces by leading figures in the field. These anthologies have stayed in print longer than similar genre story collections do, another perk of such a wealthy contest.

Rogue Moon writer Algis Budrys was named the first coordinating judge of the contest, and he brought in many other big names to help pick out winners.

When Hubbard died in 1986, ownership of the contest, along with Hubbard's library, was assigned to the Church of Spiritual Technology, one of several Scientology entities that had been created in a church reorganization a few years earlier. (Hubbard's literary agency, Author Services, is a wholly owned subsidiary of CST.)

CST owns the trademarks and copyrights to Hubbard's many works -- both those considered "scripture" in Scientology, and also his works of fiction. (It also engages in the very odd activity of creating nuclear-war-proof bunkers in which copies of everything Hubbard wrote or said on tape are being archived, as we wrote recently.)

But if CST owns the contest, and ASI runs it, none of the judges are Scientologists, and neither are the winners. At the ceremony, meanwhile, workers are careful not to discuss their religion, and while winners are asked to thank Hubbard in their speeches, his odd church is not brought up.

"I guess Hubbard in his old age, in a fit of nostalgia, came up with this thing for unpublished writers," says novelist Tim Powers, one of the contest's current judges.

Like other writers and judges I heard from, Powers told me how well run the contest is, how much it helps new writers, and how strong the firewall seems to be that exists between the contest and Scientology, even though it's Scientologists who administer the contest and put on its annual gala.

"When the winners get there, they get to attend how-to-write lectures from people like Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Orson Scott Card. It's a hell of a lineup," Powers says. "They maintain very deliberately a solid firewall between Scientology and the contest. There was even a time when a winner asked about Scientology and he was told, 'Not this week.'"

Powers admits that in his years of involvement, he's "never looked behind the scenes -- I don't know what the logistics of it are," he says. But the effort that Author Services puts into keeping things separate is something he appreciates.

"I like the firewall. As a Catholic, I'd have to quit if it turned into proselytizing," Powers says.

Rachel Denk tells me that the firewall was something the workers at the contest took very seriously.

"We always held the contest as separate from Scientology. The 'Sea Org' never came up. We distanced the contest from Scientology so it would stand on its own as an LRH activity to help new and aspiring writers, then later, artists when the illustrators' contest was started," says Denk, who worked as an administrator of the contest from 1986 to 1994, and then again from 1999 to 2004. A "public," she was a member of the church but not one of its hardcore Sea Org members who sign billion-year contracts. (She is also the widow of Gene Denk, L. Ron Hubbard's personal physician, who died in 2004. She left the church the following year and is now an independent Scientologist.)

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The author Algis Budrys (1931-2008) with Rachel Denk, who administered the contest for many years.

"No matter that I was a Scientologist; it rarely came up as I was the contest administrator who helped the applicants," she says. "It made perfect sense that the contest was run out of Author Services, LRH's literary agency. LRH was one of the top names in the Golden Age of Science Fiction....Scientology rarely came up. It would be like being a member of a writing group asking, 'Are you Mormon?' Religious preference was not really a factor unless someone wanted to cause trouble."

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In 2005, Frank Wu, who had won the top illustrators prize in 2000, wrote at his blog that over the years he had become more concerned about the link between the contest and Scientology. But when I asked him about it, he wrote me this lengthy and fascinating response about what he experienced. I think it's worth quoting at length, and Frank has indicated that he'll reproduce it in its entirety at his blog...

I heard about the L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future contest way back in the 1980's, and the allure of huge money prizes was, well, pretty enticing. Both contests could be important building blocks in launching a career in this industry. I entered the Writers contest several times, never doing very well. What I got back were polite sorry-you-didn't-win-because-we-didn't-think-your-story-was-awesome letters. Form letters really, nothing particularly Scientology-y about them.

Then I entered the Illustrators contest and after three tries, was one of the quarterly winners...

After I won, all the quarterly winners were invited to a week-long artist retreat (paralleling the writers' retreat) at one of the Scientologists' centers in L.A., where they also had the awards ceremony. This was 2000 or 2001.

Again, there was nothing particularly Scientology-y about it. I asked [Author Services employee] Joni [Labaqui] and she said that the folks running the contest were all Scientologists, but none of them brought it up. In my dorm room, there was a Scientology book instead of a bible in the dresser by the bed. No one mentioned it, and no one asked me to read it. But I read some of it because I was curious. I found it complete pablum. All watered down advice like your grandma would give you. Take your vitamins. Exercise. Caffeine is bad for you. Follow your dream. Stuff that nobody could argue about.

During the week of our art "seminars," which were run by Ron and Val Lakey Lindahn, again not Scientologists, we didn't do anything very Scientology-y. Except for a visit to a museum set up to honor L. Ron Hubbard. They showed us the original auditing machine, which looked like an old-fashioned lie detector. And there was a short film about Scientology that we saw....

WuWinners.jpg
Frank Wu with the other 2000 winners, and, in the center, Author Services executive director Barbara Ruiz
There was a bit of over-the-top celebration of L. Ron Hubbard. The museum included every award he'd ever won, and some of the folks behind the contest kept telling me that his novel Fear was the best horror novel ever written. I can't agree or disagree, because I haven't read it -- or much horror (I'm more a science fiction guy). I asked them about all the bad press about Battlefield Earth (I wasn't trying to be rude, but we were together for a week and eventually tactless questions come out) -- they said, basically, no publicity is bad publicity. Well, I'm not sure I agree with that, but my point is that the proceedings, held in Hollywood, had a lot of the fake Hollywood glitz and self-aggrandizement (though the aggrandizement was directed to Hubbard and not to the individuals running the contest). It felt more "fake Hollywood" than "evil Scientology"...

To be honest, the Scientologists were really good to me. They were the first people to give me substantial money for my art, and they were very encouraging. They showed me off at conventions. They did give me a little pressure to buy some of L. Ron Hubbard's paperback books (his science fiction books in particular, but never any Scientology books), but, well, whatever. They also set up my first radio interviews and newspaper interviews. All to advance my career...for me at least, the firewall between the contest and Scientology was quite good...

I don't have any personal stories about the evils of Scientology or Scientologists. To me, personally, all the Scientologists I met have been awesome.


Part 2: Author Services and "The Hole"

While the contest has flourished and remained very consistent in the last 28 years, Scientology itself was going through many significant changes.

The contest was born during a time that a young Sea Org executive who was the chairman of the board at Author Services, David Miscavige, was wrestling for control of Scientology itself.

It was Miscavige who ordered the byzantine restructuring of Scientology in 1982 after Hubbard went into hiding. He is now Chairman of the Board of the Religious Technology Center, which controls the trademarks and copyrights that the Church of Spiritual Technology owns. Confusing? That's probably the point. But the people who worked with Miscavige and oversaw that reorganization say that the alphabet soup of entities really didn't change the fact that Miscavige lords over every single aspect of Scientology -- including its nominally "secular" front groups and for-profit bodies, such as the businesses that produce and sell Hubbard's fiction.

To this day, they say, Miscavige's home in Los Angeles is Author Services, the literary agency that runs the contest. A tunnel gives him easy access from the agency to an elaborate apartment that was built for him in a building behind Grauman's Chinese Theater.

"Writers have a legitimate concern about whether the contest is somehow connected to Scientology. Because ultimately it is. Miscavige spends half of his time at his office at Author Services," says Mike Rinder, who until 2007 was Scientology's chief spokesman and also ran its intelligence wing, the Office of Special Affairs.

"They gutted an apartment building for Miscavige. That's where he lives when he's in LA -- which is a large percentage of the time, because he's close to Tom Cruise," Rinder says.

Rinder pointed out that Author Services collects royalties on all of Hubbard's works, and not just his fiction. I asked him if that includes Dianetics.

"Yeah, on everything," he responded.

Rinder was part of a wave of high-ranking executives who left Scientology between 2004 and 2007 and then went public, saying that Miscavige had increasingly decimated the ranks of high-level executives by deposing them from their positions and sending them to the church's international base near Hemet.

Since 2009, numerous descriptions of how conditions deteriorated at "Int Base" have been made public -- the first major account was in a St. Petersburg Times series, "The Truth Rundown." The most recent was Debbie Cook's stunning testimony in a Texas courtroom, in which she described formerly powerful executives being held against their will in an ant-infested, non-air-conditioned office, day and night, in the California desert. Surviving on a diet of "slop," the executives were forced each day to take part in mass confessions. At one point, when Cook objected to what was being said about two men who were being forced to confess that they were homosexual lovers, she was forced to stand in a trash can for twelve hours while cold water was dumped on her and homophobic slurs were yelled at her. She saw another executive beaten and made to lick a bathroom floor for half an hour as punishment for some unknown offense.

Cook and other former Scientology executives say the hellish office-prison was known as "the Hole."

Rinder says it wasn't always called that.

Originally, the two double-wide trailers at the Int Base compound were known as "CMO Int," standing for Commodore's Messenger Organization, International. Amy Scobee was an executive at CMO Int, and she tells me that over time, the place became more and more ratty as it became less about a messengers org and more a dumping place for executives who had lost favor.

By January 2004, the CMO Int offices were taking shape as the prison it would become, and it had taken on a new name: "The A to E Room." (When Scientologists are on the outs, they are told they can get back in good graces by doing their "A to E" steps of rehabilitation.)

It was at that time, early in 2004, that the fallen executives were being locked in all day and night. Base employee John Brousseau, who left in 2010, has described to me being ordered to put bars on the doors of the offices.

Mike Rinder can attest personally to the state of the A to E Room in January 2004. That's because it was then that he became a prisoner in it.

I've written earlier about Rinder's experiences in the prison, and how he looked when he came out. But now, I learned something new about it, and not only from Rinder, but also from Brousseau and the man who was at one time the second-highest ranking official in Scientology, Marty Rathbun.

Rathbun had left Florida for Int Base at the end of 2003, and he personally witnessed the CMO Int offices becoming a prison at the same time that Rinder was being held inside.

What he also saw were two women running the place, leading the mass confessions, and reporting what they learned back to David Miscavige. One of them was Angie Blankenship, a woman who has reportedly left Scientology but has not spoken publicly to the press (it's thought that she's under a non-disclosure agreement similar to the one Debbie Cook signed).

The other woman was Barbara Ruiz, executive director of Author Services.

Rathbun says that in January 2004 he personally saw Ruiz running the Hole and delivering what was gathered from mass confessions to Miscavige. (Rathbun left Scientology for good the next month.) Rinder says he witnessed Ruiz running the confessions because he was a prisoner inside. And Brousseau tells me he also saw Ruiz leaving the offices and talking with Miscavige outside, reporting what she had learned.

"Angie and Barbara were in there, egging people on," Rinder says.

"Barbara was one of the matrons. She and Angie Blankenship were getting called out of The Hole and were debriefing Miscavige in front of the trailers," Rathbun says. "They were giving him detailed descriptions of the confessions."

So, to review, let's take a look again at that 2000 Writers of the Future gala that Frank Wu has photographs of, which feature the person running the event, Author Services executive director Barbara Ruiz:

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That's Frank Wu on the right in back, and Barbara Ruiz on the left in front.

Some four years after this photograph was taken, Ruiz, while still executive director of Author Services, was seen by three witnesses to be helping David Miscavige dish out punishment at the disturbing office-prison at the International Base.

I checked with Rachel Denk, who administered the contest for so many years, and she distinctly remembers that Ruiz attended the contest's gala celebration in the summer of 2004.

The party was held on August 20 at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and Denk remembers it not only because of its upscale location, but also because of an unusual guest at the party: David Miscavige, who arrived with his wife, Shelly Barnett Miscavige.

Denk says that it was very unusual for Miscavige to attend, and she really doesn't know why he did.

But here's what we've confirmed: In January of 2004, three witnesses tell us Miscavige was having Barbara Ruiz run mass confessions in the Hole. In August of that same year, Rachel Denk saw both Miscavige and Ruiz enjoying themselves at the Writers of the Year contest, which was run by Author Services, where Ruiz was executive director and where Miscavige makes his home and office when he's in Los Angeles.

It's still true that the writers and illustrators and judges involved in the contest are not proselytized in any way, and that Scientology is not involved in the choosing of winners. But they also could not have known, that August night in 2004, how close was the connection of their fancy party to the alleged abuse at Int Base.


Part 3: The Disappeared

John Brousseau says that when he left Int Base in mid-2010, The Hole was still operating with about 80 to 100 executives being held inside. So that's at least six years that Scientology officials were allegedly being kept in the place. Debbie Cook testified that she was traumatized after being kept in The Hole for just seven weeks. Rinder says he was kept in it off and on for nearly two years.

(Since Cook's testimony, one of Scientology's attorneys released a statement saying "The Hole does not exist." Note the use of present tense. I have little doubt that Miscavige has erased the place from the map now that word about it has leaked out.)

I only wish I had a more recent photograph of Ruiz, or could ask her about her actions at The Hole. But shortly after that sighting in 2004, she seems to have vanished.

Several former church members say that Ruiz was one of several high-ranking executives who, for whatever reason, were suddenly deemed "non persons" and were made to disappear.

Around the same time, 2006, Miscavige's wife Shelly suddenly stopped showing up at public events and was not seen again at Int Base. There has been no explanation from the church regarding her sudden and years-long disappearance.

Former Scientologists have suggested to me that Shelly Miscavige and other "disappeared" executives may be staying out of view at CST's secretive headquarters near Lake Arrowhead that we wrote about last month.

Other executives have also suddenly vanished. Heber Jentzsch, for example, is still, as far as we know, the president of the Church of Scientology International, even though he was made to disappear around the year 2004. (When questions about him were being raised by his ex-wife, Karen de la Carriere, Jentzsch was recently produced in order to spend some time with his son. But just as soon, he was back out of sight.)

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One of the disappeared executives, Heber Jentzsch, president of the Church of Scientology International, during happier times with John Travolta and Kelly Preston. Where is Heber today? Shelly Miscavige? Barbara Ruiz?

"I worked there many years and people would disappear. Not necessarily to the Hole, but maybe overseas to another office. And it was none of your business, basically," says Rachel Denk.

A few weeks ago, I sent an e-mail to church spokeswoman Karin Pouw, informing her that I was working on this story. I asked her to respond to the allegation that Barbara Ruiz had helped run the Hole at the same time that she was overseeing the Writers of the Future contest. I also asked to know where Ruiz is today, and to interview her. I have heard nothing back from Pouw.

I also sent a Facebook message to Joni Labaqui, a woman at Author Services who currently has much responsibility over the contest. Again, nothing. And I called Author Services and told the person who answered the phone that I had questions about Barbara Ruiz or whoever is the current executive director. I was told that no one there could answer my questions. Under the "staff" listing at the Authors Services website, meanwhile, no names are given to identify who the current executive director is.

With the annual contest gala scheduled for April 15, I also sent a detailed message to nearly all of the writing judges in this year's contest. I have heard back from only a few, and those writers tended to defend the contest and its "firewall" and did not really address the news about Ruiz and The Hole.

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Of the writers who got back to me, only Tim Powers called. We had a very pleasant conversation, and I believe him when he said he knew nothing about Barbara Ruiz or The Hole. He did note the irony, however, that there might be a connection to something so otherworldly and disturbing as The Hole when in his books, he tends to take on a dystopian "squint."

That thought had also occurred to me.

It may be difficult for the community of science fiction writers and illustrators who benefit so grandly from the contest to take a step back and wonder what the contest really does for Scientology and the image of L. Ron Hubbard.

As writer John D. Brown recently noted on his blog, he doesn't understand why there's a fuss...

I won a first prize in the Writers of the Future. I received $2,000 cash for the prize and subsequent publication. I also received a paid trip to Cocoa Beach, Florida to workshop with the other winners and pro writers. I tell new writers to submit to the contest all the time. I do not feel I'm supporting any wickedness. Let me walk you through this. You tell me if I'm killing any puppies.

In the remainder of his post, he argued that as long as writers aren't being proselytized, and as long as there's a firewall, he's not bothered.

To his credit, however, when he heard from novelist Deirdre Saoirse Moen, who supplied him with more information about The Hole and other stories coming out of Scientology, Brown found the information interesting and promised to think about it some more. (Brown said the same to me in an e-mail exchange.)

Moen is a former Scientologist who has a long association with the contest and briefly represented it at a conference when it was first starting up. She left Scientology in 1990, but in 2008, her involvement in the genre convinced her to attend the gala that year at the Author Services building. But she has changed her mind about the contest and decided recently to begin speaking out.

"When Debbie Cook finally spoke about some of the abuses going on in Scientology, I felt it was time to speak about the contest," she says.

Rachel Denk, who worked at the contest for 12 years, was very helpful to me, but she also repeatedly expressed apprehension about this story being published. "I am totally pro-Writers of the Future, in that people can find a creative outlet," she told me last night by telephone. "I was with the contest for so long. You will not find anything of comparable magnitude out there for new and amateur writers of science fiction and fantasy. I worry about this story. I feel that you may potentially make the contest disappear," she said.

I told her I doubt that that will happen. But if there is an upheaval, it will be David Miscavige who has to answer for disappearances, not the Village Voice.

As the April 15 gala nears, I hope I will hear from additional judges, and I hope some word of Barbara Ruiz emerges.

And as for the writers and illustrators of the future -- they will have to decide if recognition, publication, and a party are worth being associated with the kind of dystopian nightmare that they probably thought only existed in their stories.


**********
Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at tortega@villagevoice.com, and if you ask nicely he'll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories, which tend to come out each and every morning at 8 am, but can suddenly appear at any time of the day. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, a Tumblr, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.

New readers might want to check out our primer, "What is Scientology?" Another good overview is our series from last summer, "Top 25 People Crippling Scientology." At the top of every story, you'll see the "Scientology" category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories. As for our regular features, on Thursdays we do a roundup of world press, on Fridays we visit L. Ron Hubbard on the yacht Apollo circa 1969-1971, on Saturdays we celebrate the week's best comments, and on Sundays we publish Scientology's wacky and tacky advertising mailers that people send us.

As for hot subjects we've covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and is now being sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology's "Mecca," whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.

Other stories have looked at Scientology's policy of "disconnection" that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We've also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there's plenty more coming.



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331 comments
Blaze
Blaze

This is ridiculous, you turned a contest to help undiscovered talent into a conspiracy. Your article is actually disgusting. When was the last time you helped someone start a new career? 

James Mourgos
James Mourgos

I'm sorry that you buy all the crap coming from disgruntled ex-members as fact.  Is that responsible journalism?  Scientology has made great in-roads in education, psychiatric abuse and has teams of volunteers helping victims of earthquakes, tsunamis and now in Louisiana with the Gulf Detox Center (yes, BP was lying when it said the spill was over).  

I've enjoyed writers of the future as a contest and like most of the stories it publishes.  Very little of your story has much praise for the contest.  Even Debbie Cook said she supported the aims of Scientology.  Funny how you left that out of this clearly biased article.

Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet
Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet

This doesn't appear to be much different from the " vanity-press-poetry-contests-conventions". Contrary to popular belief, people really do win them. Though, there isn't a red carpet, the conventions are celeb bashes, and in this case, the " fans" are performing for the stars, who really are there. As far as the fire wall separating Writers and Illustrators of the Future from CoS, goes, that sacro-sanct in of itself. Considering they had Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven as judges, is enough of an explanation, as if Miscavage is going to argue with a dyson sphere. All this does is give credence that Scientology as a "religion" became a shelter, for those escaping the McCarthy purges of the fifties, and later, the ideological machete, of the Moral Majority in the eighties. In the final analysis, given the sighting of the Asteroid Apophis, scheduled to make its appearance in 2029, possible land fall 2036, Niven and Pournelle's Lucifer's Hammer, may just give old Xenu a run for the money.

Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet

BloodyRue Andrue
BloodyRue Andrue

The United Nations Sci-Fi event.

forum exscn net showthread php?22441 

J L Worrad
J L Worrad

Here's a thought. How about someone sends this article to Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg and explain that another cash-injected contest for undiscovered SF writers- one without a 'hole'- is needed desperately? Those guys are about as geeky as it comes and make Scientologymoney look like pennies. Then we could be rid of this curse on the genre.

Sarah Paul
Sarah Paul

I just required some information and was searching on Google for it. I visited each page that came on first page and didn’t got any relevant result then I thought to check out the second one and got your blog. This is what I wanted!Alcohol rehab centers oklahoma

zenda
zenda

Perhaps , the winners , have excerts taken out of out of their books,obviously they have given permission before they recieve the awards, and are going to be re written into yet more policies for scientologys future books. It gives them more ideas, on how to control people 

OttoZ
OttoZ

I'm sorry to say this, but most of the "Writers of the Future" winners and participants must be somewhat dull-witted. I mean, duh! Don't they know they're being used to enhance L. Ron Hubbard's image, and don't they realize that "image" is intertwined with Scientology? What an embarrassment for them.

TheHoleDoesNotExist
TheHoleDoesNotExist

I was just wondering if contestants have to sign documents and if so, are these available for a look see?  What about the winners? 

Carl Frederick
Carl Frederick

I'm a former WotF first place winner (and a big fan of Rachel Denk). I was invited to attend the award ceremony (at their expense) and talk to the new contest winners. I was invited as a successful SF short story writer (yes, I know that's an oxymoron).Partially as a result of this V.V. story and some comments, I sent WotF an e-mail uninviting myself. I had been viewing the WotF with (self-fitted) blinders. I don't think I can do that anymore.The contest is indeed a great thing for new writers, but it is something of a Faustian bargain.-Carl Frederickwww.frithrik.com

omg
omg

it is strange that the contest runs workshops - LRH was adamant that you can't teach writing, in the thought emotion effort tapes i think, fairly early he gave a lecture and said you have to write and write till you find your own style, you can't teach it

and also strange that many of the winners and judges work has no resemblance to lrh works. it is more literary and metaphoric, LRH was straight up simple swashbuckling stuff - mission earth is more complex then most - doc methuselah is very contrived and simplistic. also just my own take on avatar - it is a mirror of battlefeild earth in its plot, but better done in movie form,

Koondog
Koondog

I had the displeasure of being around Barbara Ruiz for several months before I blew the S.O. in 2003. I knew of several women who made a decision that the best way to get along in the Int Base or elsewhere on Miscavige's beat was to become like him as much as they could manage. In other words, they created their idea of what they thought DM wanted in an executive and tried to become it. Barbara Ruiz was one of these and, man, she was a piece of work. I know people who knew her in Mexico and said she was a completely different person in those earlier days. Angie Blankenship was another one who became a trans-DM and she was also very unpleasant to deal with. Jenny Linson Devocht (daughter of Art Linson, Hollywood producer) and Lisa Schroer Allan were two others. These were the Four Horsewomen of the In Base Apacolypse, and the reason why Ruiz and Angie were running the Hole is because they were IN the Hole with the rest of the Holees. The way Miscavige operates is he finds someone who does some good work, builds them up for a time and then shoots them down. It happened with these four I mention above. It happened with Marty, Mike Rinder, Janet Light, Jeff Hawkins, Steve Hall, me and many, many others. Strangley I never noticed men trying to do the DM mini-me act, only women. Not all female execs did, of course, most notably Annie Broeker Logan (God bless her).   

DodoTheLaser
DodoTheLaser

Scientology scam meltdown just arrived. 

Detective Bill Summerpark
Detective Bill Summerpark

Great post (as usual) John P.

Here are few other things to take into account:

1. Scientology has a for profit side and a tax exempt side. LRH's Sci-Fi is part of the for profit side of the Cult. Taxes are paid on LRH fiction. Writers of the Future is both a tax write off and a PR handling.

3. The need to preserve LRH's integrity as a Sci-Fi/Pulp writer demands that ASI keep "Scientology the Cult" out of the Writers of the Future program. IMO, the Cult wants LRH to be judged on his merits as a writer in the Sci-Fi community.

4. The Sci-Fi community has never objected to the Cult of Scientology. The money and favors Scientology pours into Writers of the Future contest is a large part of the reason why. The Cult gives up and coming writers a great deal of support. Some of these writers will make it big time and lay off Scientology. The dollars Scientology pours into the Sci-Fi community is an insurance policy.

The same "insurance policy" principle operates in the world of Christian religious scholars. People like G. Gordon Melton have benefited by not speaking ill of Scientology.

The same "insurance policy" principle operates in Hollywood. CC Int wants to recruit and cultivate as many up and coming actors as possible. The odds are that a few will make it big time and replace the current aging crop of Tom Cruise, Johh Travolta. Kirsti Alley, Nancy Cartwright, and even J. Lo.

The same "insurance policy" principle operates in the Human Rights arena where Scientology allies itself with legitimate Human Rights groups.

In all of these "insurance policy" PR actions, the Cult is parasitical. The Cult is not "helping" but is rather "using." Scientology is using the Sci-Fi community, religious scholars, and whatever other groups it thinks it needs to use. 

The Cult quietly spreads around a little money and PR in many areas. The Cult engages in "social betterment" programs as a way of offsetting the staggering PR damages it incurs in its extremely lucrative non-profit side of the house.

DodoTheLaser
DodoTheLaser

Rachel Denk, I want to thank you for talking to Tony.Also, feel free to join ESMB, they are friendly bunch, most of the time.There is NOTHING wrong in sharing the truth. 

DodoTheLaser
DodoTheLaser

Also, where's Clair Edwards, CO SMI Int? I missed her smile.P.S. Isn't she has a brother named Neil Gaiman. I hope he is a good brother.

DodoTheLaser
DodoTheLaser

Firewall, eh?! Nice. The Wall of Fire or The Firewall? Easy choice - want to get paid and published or go OT III?What a twist. Sci-fi vs. Sci-fi. I am confused. lol

Very good catch, Tony.

SP 'Onage
SP 'Onage

I'm not so sure the judges aren't aware of the connection. You'd have to live under a rock or be dim. Scientology scandals, scams, arrests have been in the news on a daily basis. C'mon I think we're being to nice excepting another lie.

And why aren't the judges e-mailing Tony back? Are they being handled?

Mimsey_borogrove
Mimsey_borogrove

Personally I have enjoyed the Writer of the Future books a lot - I  went to one of their galas - even tried submitting some of my stories. Personally, no matter how horrid Hubbard or the Church of Scientology may be, I truly hope they continue this contest. It is about helping new writers, plain and simple. It is too easy to fall in the trap of thinking an evil man can do no good - example Hitler was responsible for the Volkswagon, and if memory serves the fast 2.8 180 mm lens Eva Braun used.  The world is not black and white - there are shades of grey.  I'd love to say Gengis Kan was responsible for Mongolian Beef and that wonderful style of cooking, but I know I am pushing my luck.

Mimsey

Scientology NarCONon
Scientology NarCONon

The more I discover about these Scientology shit bags, the more amazed I am that anybody still gives these fuckers money.

jes
jes

The writers and illustrators concerned need to consider how they would feel if their images and/or details were being used by scientology for internal publicity.  They are maasters at finding reflected glory.

SP 'Onage
SP 'Onage

Scientology Is The Orwellian Nightmare Come True.

Future sci-writers/authors beware!

defrocked apostate
defrocked apostate

Tony, Heber disappeared long before 2004. In 1988 he was arrested and indicted along with a fairly large number of fellow Scientology criminals, charged with espionage, trespassing, quack medical frauds, manslaughter, and other crimes. Heber was jailed and then managed to racketeer his own release by claiming his mother was dying after which he fled to the United States and hid.

On very rare occasions Heber would surface for literally minutes at a time and then return to hiding, ducking process servers and Federal law enforcement agents. Eventually when the trials in Madrid resumed and the prosecutors contacted the Department of State in the United States to request that they hand the criminal over, State had to inform Madrid that the felon could not be served or found.

During all this time Heber remained at large, keeping a distance from the long arm of the law. It was during the Madrid trials that he was in serious lock-down somewhere, he had something near 4 layers of Federal law enforcement searching for him, details of which I have in paper mails sent from one of the agencies who provided information on where they expected him to be hiding.

After the last indictments in Madrid were cleared (pun intended!) and Miscaviage felt the heat was off, he allowed Heber to show his face in public for a single day to appear on a television show where he screamed and ranted and spittle flew, after which Miscaviage shoved his insane puppet "President" back in to hiding where he's not been seen from or heard from since.

I really should scan the Dept of State's paper mails in to a computer and get them posted on line. They need to be added to the glut of documentary history on this crime syndicate.

poolsclosed
poolsclosed

Anyone who feels the need to respond to Jonathon Barberas post should look at his youtube channel under the same name,watch "Matrix hands(faster than light)"and make your own judgments about this mans state of mind

defrocked apostate
defrocked apostate

Wow, I can't imagine any writer handing over their hard work to the Scientology ciminals. The hoped-for money is hardly worrth the resulting racketeering.

NCSP
NCSP

Debbie Cook also testified under oath that David Miscavige ordered for her fingers to be broken. He had her stand in a garbage can for hours while other execs dumped water on her head and screamed abuse at her. She was lucky; she wasn't beaten by Miscavige, as dozens of others have been. You might think she was lying; the Church settled with her for seven figures rather than have her continue to testify. She may support Hubbard's original aims, but the current Church is an abuse machine with a psychopath at its head, and its aims couldn't be more opposed to those Hubbard formulated.

This is the organization whose reputation this contest burnishes. This is the organization you defend, either out of ignorance, fear, or outright malice. Shame on you.

Carl Frederick
Carl Frederick

No. Not at all dull-witted. A tad ethically challenged, perhaps--or perhaps not.I was a WotF first place winner. The contest kick-started my writing career. This year, I was invited back as a successful SF short story writer.But after reading Tony's article and the comments, I decided to sever my WotF ties and forgo the free trip/vacation in L.A. OttoZ, would you have done the same?

I mean, duh, yes. We do know we're being used to enhance LRH's image, and in return we get many benefits. I think beginning writers do themselves well to enter the contest (holding their noses, perhaps). Afterwards, one can leave. 

ShellyMiscavige
ShellyMiscavige

So, so looking forward to Miscavige's inevitable demise, and subsequent implosion of the cockroach nest he has built.

Video of the little prick being dragged kicking and screaming into the glare of the news cameras will please me greatly.

LaurieMann
LaurieMann

"The Sci-Fi community has never objected to the Cult of Scientology."  I've been in science fiction fandom for a very long time.  Scientology has always been controversial in fandom - some people approve of it, but many of us don't.

Even people who don't like Scientology have entered and sometimes won Writers of the Future, since the WOTF contest pays well and gives additional opportunities to network with writers, editors and artists.

Anon!
Anon!

What do you mean "excepting it" like it acknowledging the situation and not connecting it to the cult of $cn. Or do you mean "excepting it" like a much anticipated gift, in which case, you have a spelling error and should have written "accepting it." The meaning of your statement is muddied and lost due to the usage/ spelling/ context issue of your statement.

At the same time, like you, I wonder what is happening behind the Iron Curtain of $cn's supposed firewall that segregates ASI from Co$.

Artoo45
Artoo45

Godwin Fail. Yes, Hitler did indeed commission the Volkswagen and the reich's war effort was indeed supported by the likes of Bayer, Daimler Benz, BASF, Braun, and many other companies that still exist today. But ol' Adolf isn't still holding people captive, or separating families, or spreading dangerous quackery about psychiatry and "detoxing" whilst separating people from giant wads of cash to build glitzy, empty buildings. Miscavige is. Why would any of the authors listed above want to be a part of all that? Okay, Orson Scott Card is a total douchebag so that's no big mystery, but the rest of them? And Hubbard was a lousy hack of a writer on top of it. Start a new contest if it means so much to you. Shades of gray my ass . . . I was just following orders.

SP 'Onage
SP 'Onage

No disrespect mimsey, but scientology never does anything for free. They always have a method to their madness when it comes to infiltration into our society.

This is another front, a PR glitz, a covert way of bringing money and new people into Scientology. They know using arts and entertainment naturally draws people into their fold. They're a creative artist agency not a religion.

SP 'Onage
SP 'Onage

I just watched Heber Jentzsch's deposition video on youtube. What if Heber is missing on purpose and doesn't want to be found.

I mean, the guy has been in a lot of trouble. I think he's done like, 9 depositions?

mirele
mirele

Please do. The more documentation, the merrier!

Kim O'Brien
Kim O'Brien

yeah - it's pretty sad . He sits on his bathroom floor ( looking like he needs a bath) and while sitting on a dirty floor mat ...records himself trying  to levitate. either he was mentally ill before scientology or he ended up that way . either way ...the end result is his you tube channel . i hope he got his money back but i kind of doubt it 

Jonathon Barbera
Jonathon Barbera

I made a video where I move my hand so fast, it is only a blur on camera. It's not very impressive because I assume others can also move their hand just as fast -- but so far no one has claimed to be able to do so.

Andrew Porter
Andrew Porter

I've also been in SF fandom for decades—my first World SF Convention was in 1963— and like Laurie, I've long been aware of LRH and the Scientologists, but have no interest. Nor am I thrilled that Hubbard decided long ago that he was going to try to love SF to death with the WotF and AotF contests—which are obviously funded by profits from all the other disreputable arms of the octopus. And I've long been unhappy with those SF people active in the Contests while choosing to disregard where the money comes from.

SP 'Onage
SP 'Onage

My bad, excepting = accepting another lie. Yes. I write muddled often. It's frustrating.

I don't trust some of the judges (are some scilons?) I don't believe they are not inquisitive to what's happening within "Writers of the Future.” and who's truly funding it? I'm sure they know it is non-secular because the trademark is assigned to the Church of Scientific Technology. Jim Hines is questioning it and Frank Wu wrote about the financial connections between Scientology and Writers/Illustrators of the Future back in 2005. Why aren't the judges? And why aren't they responding to Tony's e-mail? I find it suspicious.

And another question. Are the judges getting payed to judge?

SEAYAORG
SEAYAORG

you as a writer take the accolades and money - there will be a contract just to be named a finalist, you won't know the full terms and conditions, they will creep up on you then your hands are tied and you are entangled. perhaps you have to forever after mention LRH Writers of the future wherever you go, on blogs and at speeches. you are now a soldier of the church, you took the candy, now you have to do the payback for example lee battersby, note he does not date his win date on his website. you will hope for a movie deal because you know scio is connectede and you might leapfrog to JT or TC etc. but only those who pay the piper get more candy

omg
omg

levitation IS an OT ability along with ESP and telekinesis - Joann Young (nee lawless) wrote about it n a book called mysteries of the mind in 1977 - it is still on sale on amazon. she is a flag service consultant so you can ring her and talk. Ingo swann was heralded as a scientologist who had these powers

1HC
1HC

Wow. That's impressive JB. I think you win that claim. Which, BTW, speaks volumes about your reasoning powers and especially your social awareness. I bet the chicks are just lining up to see you do that!

Andrew Porter
Andrew Porter

None of the entrants are novels. They are all short stories or novellas at most.

SP 'Onage
SP 'Onage

Wow. Imagine all the secret video footage they have of the judges partying. Everyone knows the whole place is bugged, even the room/suites.

Aa
Aa

I'd have a hard time believing that out of that list of 39 judges (presumably all *genuine* non-scientologists) they would all be such a bunch of ass-kissing brown-nosers unless something serious was going on. Judging from their tight-lipped and/or defensive reactions to any critical questions, it seems rather obvious to me that the judges receive substantial compensation of some sort, whether it's in money, promotional services, and/or promises of career advancement (or perhaps even falling prey to good old-fashioned "love-bombing"?) and it seems they don't want to rock the boat and risk losing it all. 

Most are also, I'm guessing, not naive to Scientology's controversial nature. I can understand that they're in a business where the difference between success and failure can be razor-thin, but yet not even a single one of them is willing to talk candidly (even unnamed/off-the-record) about any critical thoughts or concerns they might have?

I'm also a little curious how the whole judging process works, such as how much time a judge spends reading novels - which I suspect could be considerable.

Gina Smith
Gina Smith

 Ah, so once again it comes down to everyone having their price.

SP 'Onage
SP 'Onage

Thanks, Tony. It sounds like they get a lot of perks. Yes, It would be interesting to know how much they are getting paid? Maybe that's why they're avoiding you, hoping you'll move on to something else.

You're doing some great investigative reporting. =)

TonyOrtega
TonyOrtega

I asked about that. Judges are paid -- although I was not able to find out how much. They are also flown to LA for a week of partying, all expenses paid. I'll keep trying to find out amounts.

Kim O'Brien
Kim O'Brien

are you really that stupid or do you think everyone else is ? 

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