Worst SFF Book Ever

dask

dark and stormy knight
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This is probably the correct answer to the question.

I'm "impressed" you got through three of them. Hubbard died after the first volume was published, so that should have alerted readers that later volumes were unlikely to have been written by him. It's interesting that all the volumes made it to the NY Times bestseller list, but this is not thought to be due to individuals buying them. His 'church' bought the books in very large quantities to bump up the apparent sales. I like this quote from the NY Times review of the first book, which is on the Wikipedia site:

"... a paralyzingly slow-moving adventure... a disregard of conventional grammar so global as to suggest a satire on the possibility of communication through language".
I always figured the later books were ghost written by Hubbard himself.
 

BAYLOR

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I totally agree with this. I remember getting these from Forbidden Planet (they were cheap) and wading through them on night shifts. The first book actually gave me a headache, but I ploughed through and I made it to book ten and just gave up. It really is terrible with some really puerile writing and story elements. Interesting covers though.

I'd actually go one better and say that L. Ron Hubbard was a bad writer full stop. I tried to read Battlefield Earth and it was just terrible. An early DNF for me.

L Ron Hubbard could write a good and entertaining story . I liked the book Battlefield Earth . It was like reading a supersized Golden Age science fiction story from yesteryear , it was fun to read . Other books iv read by him, Fear, Typewriter in the Sky , Slaves of Sleep and one short story Borrowed Glory all of which I enjoyed and, the first Mission Earth book which I didn't like so much .
 
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CupofJoe

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Any GOR book. I tried to read one once. I think I got thirty pages in before I quit. I still feel dirty...
Bored of the Rings - I know it is a parody and I didn't have my sights set too high, but it is just tedious and not funny.
 

Christine Wheelwright

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Any GOR book. I tried to read one once. I think I got thirty pages in before I quit. I still feel dirty...

Agreed. They are somewhat intense and there is absolutely no fun in them at all. You almost get the feeling the author was pushing a philosophy (yuk!). I've included themes of power exchange in my erotic fantasy stories, but I tend to make sure the boot is on the other (feminine) foot.
 

Matteo

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Yes - thin at one end, fatter in the middle and thin again at the other end. Or something like that. I liked how it wasn’t even a theory, but simply an observation :)
Back in the mid-90s, when I still worked for the DTI, I had job that from time to time required me to write briefs for the Secretary of State for Trade (when he had to answer a question in the House or in an interview). Before I took up the post my new boss decided it would be a good idea to go on a brief writing course. Of course, as is typical, it took a couple of months before I actually went on the course by which time I had already started and had written some briefs and so knew they consisted of three parts; Issue (i.e. what it was about - normally just one sentence), Background (two, three paragraphs), and Line to Take (i.e. what the government should say in response - usually just one or two sentences).

The course was in a hotel in Bournemouth for one week - God knows why it needed a week... On the first morning, after the 15/20 of us from various parts of the civil service (mainly "Whitehall") had introduced ourselves, the guy who was giving the course said...

A good brief should be like a brontosaurus.

I laughed but realised that I was the only one; everyone else just looked confused. He pointed at me and said "yes?". To which I replied "Because they should be thin at one end, much, much thicker in the middle, then thin again at the other end". (I was tempted to add the coughs but decided not to). Everyone else still looked confused but of course I was right.
 

hitmouse

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Back in the mid-90s, when I still worked for the DTI, I had job that from time to time required me to write briefs for the Secretary of State for Trade (when he had to answer a question in the House or in an interview). Before I took up the post my new boss decided it would be a good idea to go on a brief writing course. Of course, as is typical, it took a couple of months before I actually went on the course by which time I had already started and had written some briefs and so knew they consisted of three parts; Issue (i.e. what it was about - normally just one sentence), Background (two, three paragraphs), and Line to Take (i.e. what the government should say in response - usually just one or two sentences).

The course was in a hotel in Bournemouth for one week - God knows why it needed a week... On the first morning, after the 15/20 of us from various parts of the civil service (mainly "Whitehall") had introduced ourselves, the guy who was giving the course said...

A good brief should be like a brontosaurus.

I laughed but realised that I was the only one; everyone else just looked confused. He pointed at me and said "yes?". To which I replied "Because they should be thin at one end, much, much thicker in the middle, then thin again at the other end". (I was tempted to add the coughs but decided not to). Everyone else still looked confused but of course I was right.
I have written ministerial briefs and speeches, at the request of their senior civil servant. Did one yesterday, in fact, in a quiet interval between the paid aspects of my day job. I really need to ask for a few days away in a nice hotel somewhere.
 

hitmouse

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Because some cynical consultancy (possibly owned by, or linked to, members of the then current government) could squeeze more money out of the public purse? Isn't that the way it usually works?
Its usually the other way round. Ask people to do stuff which is potentially a bit risky, but for which there may be no defined skill-set or qualification (often some vaguely managerial sort of thing) so cover the corporate arse by bringing in some sort of education from an outside agent. There is a whole industry devoted to this. Some of it is quite good, but the majority is basically silly.
The last 2 years knock any of that stuff into a cocked hat and I dont recall being sent away anywhere to learn how to manage a global pandemic. We just got on with it.
 

JunkMonkey

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Ask people to do stuff which is potentially a bit risky, but for which there may be no defined skill-set or qualification (often some vaguely managerial sort of thing) so cover the corporate arse by bringing in some sort of education from an outside agent. There is a whole industry devoted to this.

Isn't that what I said? Well-paid consultants parachuted in at great expense to spend (in Matteo's case) a week covering the upper echelons' arses by providing 'training' for the lower ranks. "Can't be our fault it all went tits up - we paid squillions for them to get trained to do it."
 

OuttaInc

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I can't speak to the other titles, but Fifty Shades of Grey was the one and only book I've ever returned in my life.

At the time, I was subscribed to Audible and I left an honest 1-star review. Just after I hit submit, it gave me an apologetic pop-up message along the lines of, "We're so sorry this didn't live up to your expectations. Would you like to return it and receive your book credit back?"

Indeed I would, thank you very much! So I did.

Only later did I realize that it had removed my 1-star review! Apparently Audible doesn't allow readers to leave reviews if they no longer own the title. I have no idea if that's still the case as this was many years ago and I no longer subscribe, but I remember it not sitting well with me.
 

Venusian Broon

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I found this book in 2016 and cannot resist bringing it back to the table now: Dale M. Courtney's Moon People

Unfortunately I have yet to purchase and read it.

Here is a (five star) review that it received in 2018 by Jon P.

<Set phasers to ultra-dense sarcasm>

"First of all, let me be clear in stating that I do not normally write reviews of any kind. Still, such was the level of Dale M. Courtney's writing, I felt compelled to comment. This book is, without exaggeration, the best book I have ever had the honor of reading. The author has achieved something beyond traditional storytelling, and introduces the literary world to a new paradigm in what can be done with the written word. ‘Moon People’ is not limited to the confines of Pre-Courtney literature, that readers have perhaps naively come to expect. Elements like ‘plot’ and ‘tense’; all of these things are thrown out with bold abandon, as Courtney weaves an engaging tale of a man who gets offered a job on a space station, then accepts the job on the space station.

Throughout this 80 page masterpiece, Courtney introduces the reader to further development of the English language, as Shakespeare had in the early 1600’s, or more recently Orwell’s ‘1984’. Take for instance, Courtney’s “...a basket Ball court”. Such bold phrasing suggests that this is not a regular basketball court, but a new, evolved understanding. The author leaves the reader to construct the rules of this new game. Courtney then tosses aside the convention of regular punctuation, by gliding between character dialogue, without the reader being informed which character is doing the speaking, a clear critique of the modern socio-political climate. As a final masterstroke of wordsmithing, the author absorbs the reader into the world he has created by delicately dancing between referring the protagonist as “he”, then in the very next sentence, referring to them as “I”. This dichotomy confronts the reader with the question: “who is this protagonist, David Breymer?” Is it Courtney himself? Is it the reader the protagonist? Courtney again challenges the reader, by deftly adding seemingly random question marks to what appears like statements. The reader must then question the very foundation of the story. Is this story happening at all? Following the tradition of Lewis Carrol and a closer sci-fi contemporary, Phillip K Dick, Courtney slyly suggests that not everything is what it seems.

As if crafting new literary constructs were not enough, the author excels in gently guiding the reader through the minefield of complex techno-jargon and advanced high level astrophysics. With obvious mastery of the material, Courtney succinctly explains with otherwise would be incomprehensible to the average layperson. The scientists in the story discuss amongst themselves terms like “science stuff” and “radio emitters that can detect what gases and rocks or whatever else the planets are made of”. Courtney does not bog down the reader with heavy science, as to not distract from the main emotional core of the protagonist journey, that of the protagonist experiencing no conflict or challenges whatsoever.

I would consider myself a voracious reader, and a true lover of the written word. As a rough estimate, I would venture to say that I have read in my lifetime, upwards of seven books, perhaps even as many as nine. Still, no other written work has come anywhere close to this; not Tolstoy’s War and Peace, not the King James Bible. It is a privilege to read a work that will no doubt be required student reading in the future, and a foundational work in which surely new areas of study will emerge."

Also I like the review that stated:

"My favorite part is when Courtney decides not to describe what the admiral's U.S.S Lunar Base One looks like, and instead he opts to show the reader a picture of the Death Star."
 

tobl

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Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard.

Also known as "Caveman learns to pilot an F-16 in three months and saves world from alien invaders with nukes." Only nowhere near as entertaining as that sounds.
i actually liked it. way better than anything else he wrote
 

Christine Wheelwright

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I can't speak to the other titles, but Fifty Shades of Grey was the one and only book I've ever returned in my life.

At the time, I was subscribed to Audible and I left an honest 1-star review. Just after I hit submit, it gave me an apologetic pop-up message along the lines of, "We're so sorry this didn't live up to your expectations. Would you like to return it and receive your book credit back?"

Indeed I would, thank you very much! So I did.

Only later did I realize that it had removed my 1-star review! Apparently Audible doesn't allow readers to leave reviews if they no longer own the title. I have no idea if that's still the case as this was many years ago and I no longer subscribe, but I remember it not sitting well with me.

I'm a little old fashioned and still buy from a real, physical bookshop. I must say, the idea of walking in holding a copy of FSOG, loudly demanding to see the manager and complaining that they sold me a spectacular pile of dross is enormously appealing.
 

JunkMonkey

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I do most of my book-buying in charity shops and honesty box, "drop a donation in the tin" community bookshelves. (There are two in my village.) There are an awful lot of very unread looking copies of Fifty Shades of Grey out there.

Another contender I have just remembered (which I'm surprised to see isn't on that Wikipedia list is Wagner the Werewolf by George W. M. Reynolds which I read (Good Gods!) eight years ago


and still makes me giggle when I think about it:
 

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