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3.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,427 ratings  ·  162 reviews
"A classic tale of creeping, surreal menace and horror... one of the really, really good ones." — Stephen King

Professor James Lowry didn't believe in spirits, or witches, or demons. Not until a gentle spring evening when his hat disappeared, and suddenly he couldn't remember the last four hours of his life. Now, the quiet university town of Atworthy is changing - slightly
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 15th 2005 by Galaxy Press (first published January 1st 1952)
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Average rating 3.16  · 
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 ·  1,427 ratings  ·  162 reviews

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Dec 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As prolific (as in Guinness World Book of Records prolific) and significant as L.Ron Hubbard was of an author, the man is most well known for starting a cult. I was curious to see what his writing was like and this book was very well regarded as a masterpiece of psychological horror and a fairly noncommittal length of 101 pages. Originally published in 1940, it's surprisingly undated with minute exceptions of things like prices. I can see why this book got the acclaim that it did, though it didn ...more
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The professional reputation of Nebraska-born writer L. Ron Hubbard, it seems to me, has taken a double hit since his heyday in the 1940s. Hubbard, of course, was the founder of the cultish sect known as Scientology, and ever since the release of his initial article on Dianetics in the May 1950 issue of John W. Campbell's "Astounding Science-Fiction," and the founding of the group two years later, his name has been unavoidably linked to this oft-maligned pseudoreligion. And then there was the not ...more
DO NOT be pulled in by the quote from Stephen King on the cover. Fear is a routine pulp thriller, and not one that has aged well. Avoid.
Lu Patterson
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I've read, I literally read it as soon as it came out of the package. Visually it caught my attention because the cover is different from the others book of L. Ron Hubbard, must be because it was probably one of the most recent works of this writer. Even Stephen King expressed his opinion about it, calling it "a classic tale of creeping, surreal menace and horror"....I had to find out how good was this book if the master of horror was so fascinated about it. And I can hone ...more
Jessy May
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great classic horror story!!! makes me wish that more horror writers could write a gripping tale like this one with out the use of monster/gore/ and other literary mechanisms that are not always necessary except for shock and filler
Daniel Fonseca
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of everything I have ever read, this by far is the most frightening of all. King, Barker, Koontz; they are lightweight in comparison. I haven't stopped thinking about this story for years. It's that good.
This story was first published in the July, 1940 issue of Unknown, a fantasy pulp magazine edited by John W. Campbell. I was curious about the story partly because Hubbard is now remembered more as the founder of Scientology than as a pulp fiction writer. But apparently, Hubbard was a very prolific contributor to the pulp magazines before he organized his new religion/cult (take your pick).

Hubbard was a major contributor to Unknown, which first began publication in 1939 and ran for only 39 issu
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is great! Right from the start, you know something is going to go terribly, horribly wrong, and you will not be disappointed.

The main character, Jim, suddenly realizes that four hours have passed, and he has no recollection of that time period! And to top it all off, he seems to have misplaced his hat during that time!

So starts Jim's quest for his hat.

Jim believes that if he finds his hat, maybe he'll remember how he lost it, and in remembering how h
Brian Kenny
Apr 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Fear' by L Ron Hubbard is one of those books, which come along and surprise you. The story is from the horror genre, along with certain elements of fantasy. While not very gory, the tale is much more concerned with psychological horror. Certain scenes are atmospheric and creepy. A unique element of the narrative is the narrators description of his encounters of dark places and beings which seem to come out of nowhere; when he attempts to find clues to his lack of memory concerning four hours wh ...more
Mar 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I mainly know Hubbard as the mysterious founder of Scientology, he first gained fame as a pulp writer. This book is considered one of his best, a horror classic almost from the moment it was published in 1940. While dated by modern standards (the stilted, rather wordy first chapter will put off some of the less wary or determined), this story thrills because of its still-scary idea. A professor loses four hours of his life one Saturday afternoon. Discovering what happened to him, he learns ...more
Aug 04, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was bad. I have owned it for many years and tried to read it from time to time. Today I managed to finished it while struggling through every page - the writing was that bad. And the plot was not impressive. This book was supposed to be very atmospheric, but it wasn't. The only thing that kept me going was curiosity and the shortness of the book. Needles to say the ending was not very original and by the time I reached it I was mostly just annoyed by everything in this book and wishing ...more
James Mourgos
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, fantasy
Other reviewers have said it better but this was one of L Ron Hubbard's finest since Final Blackout. College Professor Jim Lowry, respected enthologist at Atworthy College. Back from the tropics with a touch of malaria. He mocks the demons and devils and they hear him!

The story is quite gripping up to the very end when you see where Lowery's four hours went. And he even finds his hat. And his death!

Highly recommended.
Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
L. Ron Hubbard is now synonymous with Scientology so often gets painted with the loony brush. As an atheist, I don't have much of a problem with Scientology. It's a belief-based organisation that tries to recruit you, change your way of thinking on the basis of nutty stories while taking your money in the process. How's that different from all the rest? But I digress...

L. Ron Hubbard was an author first and extremely prolific. Apart from his magnum opus Battlefield Earth, I didn't know any
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

There's just no accounting for certain reading choices that I made around the turn of the century.

I happened to be thinking about Scientology today (don't ask), wondering why they've never fielded a candidate for president and whether or not John Travolta could win California, when I remembered that I had actually read a book of L. Ron Hubbard's once, a long time ago- July 2000, according to my records, when I was fourteen- about which I remember nothing, except for a vague impressio
Stephen King says in blurb on belly-band of hardcover edition: "If you've never read FEAR, I urge you to do so." In the Foreword King is quoted as saying: "L. Ron Hubbard's Fear is one of the few books in the chiller genre which actually merits employment of the overworked adjective "classic," as in "This is a classic tale of creeping, surreal menace and horror." If you're not averse to a case of the cold chills - a rather bad one - and you've never read Fear, I urge you to do so. Don't even wai ...more
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
I feel vaguely guilty giving this a bad review, since the publisher's social media people encouraged me (and about a dozen others on Goodreads) to read it, and they were really helpful when I asked them questions.

As much as I've liked some of L. Ron Hubbard's sci-fi, this just didn't click with me at all. Written in a simplistic style, Fear has a broad, but promising, premise. But, alas, only pays off in a series of disjointed non-events, only some of which are interesting. It's "and
John Berney
Currently, I have not gotten that far in the book, yet it shows promise. I like it, yet probably won't use it on the Anthology.
The book was rather drab until Lowry lost his four hours, and I think that it will get much better pretty soon.
The way in which Hubbard is able to weave the Malaria of Lowry and what Lowry thinks he sees into an almost real, yet somehow not real world.
The way in which the author weaves a tail of suspense is truly amazing. As Lowry moves ever forward, yo
Amy Sturgis
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This tale rates a 4.5 stars for me. And it's by L. Ron Hubbard! Who would have thought it?

My review is part of my discussion of novels eligible for the 1941 Retro Hugo Award in "Looking Back on Genre History" on Episode 427 of StarShipSofa.
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't really anticipate the ending -- that probably says a lot about my naivete. However, the twist was well done and inevitable, simple yet very surprising.
Thomas Jenner
May 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story is by far the best horror story book I have ever read! The twist at the end freaked me out for days!!!!
Andrew F
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't like cults, or scams, and Scientology is both. I just wanted to state that because anyone like me will regard a positive review of a book by L. Ron Hubbard with suspicion. It's fairly famous that some of the reviews on Battlefield Earth were paid for (A.E. Van Vogt later admitted he'd never even read the book). This is a pre-World War 2 book and it, like Final Blackout, are generally regarded as pretty good pulpy stuff, unlike his later, post-scientology fiction. Regardless, when people ...more
Ria Rutten
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When reading the reviews, I can see why there are contrary views and opinions. First of all, it is not scary in a way that current horror books are--not at all! No bloody scenes, gore, etc. Yes, it has suspense and you wonder where this is all going. However, for me the terror stroke AFTER I finished it. It even lasted for days after I finished reading it, as I just kept thinking about how cruel and scary.

For anyone who "did not get it..." or "it is confusing..." I recommend to go back and re-r
Jun 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
I was going to "DNF" this book but I have this (bad) habit of finishing every single book I start to read.
Anyway, there were some very good, sort of philosophical paragraphs in this book which I really, really liked, but I can't give this book more than one star. I couldn't connect to the protagonist at all, and the plot was... Don't know how to explain it other than it was messy (and not in a good way, if that makes sense. lol) It felt like the author just improvised it and the results we
K. C.
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was told not to read this book before midnight by a dear friend back in 1992. And, of course, the first thing I did was to pick it up just before midnight and start reading. This was one of the very first psychological thrillers ever written. The main character has a 4 hour period in his life where he can't remember what happened. And during that time he lost his hat. A voice keeps telling him "if you find your hat you will find your 4 hours and then you will die." The struggle to find the 4 h ...more
Ilian Iliev
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No matter how the title sounds this is not a scary book...

My mind is playing tricks on me
I am not as stable as I used to be

Do you feel secure about your own mind? Do you feel safe, and do you trust it? Can something flip the switch and suddenly you are no longer sane?
Or maybe it is not you but powers beyond your control. Maybe there are really powers lurking at the dark corners of your room (and mind)?

Prof. James Lowry is on a quest to find that. And of course his
I can't, in good conscious, give this book anything more than 2 stars (and that's probably pushing it, morally for me), simply because of the extraordinarily HORRIBLE things its author would go on to do to people (his own "followers") in the following decades.
I'm not going to lie though, this is a very well written, creepy horror story, even reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft (imho). A really quick, though absorbing read.
I originally rated this a four stars. Then I had to just think about
Robert Worstell
Apr 18, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This and "Typewriter in the Sky" are regarded as his best work ever. You see between them what he actually thinks of the industry and his own audience. Especially toward the end of Fear, where all the characters are cardboard cutouts. Hubbard always fixated on the protagonist, with all other characters being two-dimensional. His monster work, "Mission Earth" also had the villain as hero, as does Fear and Typewriter. And his characters are poorly fleshed out, even though he had 10 volumes to do i ...more
Patrick Weems
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a classic work of horror. Stephen King referred to it as such, and I agree, as it is excellent. Robert Heinlein said that Hubbard wrote Fear on a train from New York to Seattle. #RayBradbury considered it a milestone of the genre. Fear may be a bit subtle by today's standards, but it's still a great read.

🔰 "We are intelligent beings giving our lips to disbelief but rolling our eyes behind us to search out any danger, which may swoop down from that black void."
Ryan Young
I can’t say I enjoyed this book, and that’s a sad thing since I have been checking thrift stores for a hardcover copy for fifteen years or so. I think it was the disjointed narrative style or the cover art that seemed to have nothing to do with the novel, or just overblown expectations. Maybe it was a brilliant psychological suspense, or maybe it was just a relief to get to the last page and go, “oh, that’s what this whole mess was about.” It just wasn’t that big of a payoff for me though.
Circa Girl
Oct 29, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish, horror
The first fifty pages were really chilling and established an atmosphere and psychological direction that was really entertaining yet ambiguous. Then the writing turned surreal or attempted to be surreal and it lost me. It's hard to capture such a visually bizarre experience but it was just all over the place at that point.
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Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was an American author of science fiction and fantasy stories, and the founder of the Church of Scientology. In 1950, Hubbard authored Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health and established a series of organizations to promote Dianetics. In 1952, Hubbard lost the rights to Dianetics in bankruptcy proceedings, and he subsequently founded Scientology. Thereafter Hubb ...more
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