Review of If I Were You by L. Ron Hubbard

SFFaudio Review

If I Were You by L. Ron HubbardIf I Were You
By L. Ron Hubbard; Read by various
2 CDs – 2 Hours 7 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Galaxy Press
Published: 2008
ISBN: 1592122906
Themes: / Fantasy / Consciousness Transference / Magic /
Circus dwarf Little Tom Little is the king of midgets, loved by crowds and carnival folk alike. Only he doesn’t just want to be a bigger circus star, he wants to be just like the circus’ tall and imposing leader. Trouble begins the moment that a set of ancient books containing the secret of switching bodies finds its way into Tom Little’s tiny hands. When he magically trades his small frame with that of the circus chief, finds himself in a giant-sized heap of trouble—his craving for height has landed him smack in the center ring surrounded by forty savage cats!

If I Were You (Approx. 95 Minutes) – Nancy Cartwright, best known as Bart on The Simpsons, voices Little Tom Little, the little person who has big dreams. Tom Little wants to become the circus ringmaster. So, when the resident circus magician is at death’s door and offers to teach Tom the ancient art of consciousness transference Tom jumps at the chance. Of course the having is not always as good as the wanting as things soon go awry for the tallest little person in the circus. A little drawn out, this tale was first published in a 1940 pulp magazine called Four Novels. It’s plot goes basically where you’d think it’d go. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, but it doesn’t capture your imagination the way maybe you’d like.

The Last Drop (Approx. 32 Minutes) – This is a fast paced cartoonist fantasy in the tradition of Bugs Bunny, The Food Of The Gods and The Incredible Shrinking Man. A bartender receives a mysterious syrup in the mail from his brother in Borneo. After a little experimentation he discovers that it has the power to change the size of whoever consumes it. The Last Drop is cute, completely ludicrous, and fairly entertaining. As with the other Galaxy Press Hubbard collections, The Last Drop uses multiple actors, voice and sound effects – it’s not an adaptation, but easily could be adapted into a Pixar or Warner Brothers style cartoon. Normally I’d criticize the use of all these enhancements, but with the cartoonish nature of the story, these enhancements don’t spoil the storytelling as badly as they do in other more straight tales. One thing that is rather annoying though, the audio track doesn’t acknowledge the co-authorship of The Last Drop. There is, however, a small print notification on the bottom of the packaging. And, it’s significant. This is the only story that Hubbard collaborated on during his lifetime. The Last Drop was co-authored by L. Sprague de Camp.

The two CDs are handsomely packaged in a cardboard sleeve along with a booklet featuring a brief biography of Hubbard’s career and influences, and an essay by Kevin J. Anderson about the pulp era. The Anderson essay is rife with enthusiasm for the pulps. The author of the Hubbard biographical essay isn’t named, but is nevertheless informative and includes more than a dozen photographs. Curiously, the author of the bio detours for a quick attack at western author Max Brand, when talking about Hubbard’s western stories. This is the same booklet as appears in The Great Secret collection.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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