I was recently asked if there could be a fair comparison made between the Harry Potter series and Battlefield Earth. The timing was really ironic: our family was working our way through a Harry Potter movie marathon and had just finished movie seven of the eight. (No worries, most of us have read all the books, too.)
Because both are truly epic stories, there are many, many commonalities between the two. The first that came to mind for me, however, was the story arcs. That is, each story – both the ultra-long novel Battlefield Earth and the books series of Harry Potter are both one over-arching story that encompasses a series of shorter stories. Each smaller story within the epic is a full story, with heroes, villains, mysteries, conflict, resolutions, and side characters that provide color, interest, explanations about the alien (or magical) culture. Each smaller story is fully satisfying in and of itself, yet leads us one step closer to the ultimate resolution. Likewise, in both sagas, the incremental stories demonstrate increasing complexity in the heroes. Harry grows a year older in each book, deals with typical adolescent trials in addition to greater magical mysteries. He struggles with studying, yet quite often, it’s information from his studious friend Hermione that provides a key clue. With time and maturity, Harry begins to work out solutions and even seek out (cough, research) information he requires. Jonnie, in his turn, begins with strong survival knowledge but (quite literally) no book learning. His captivity with the Psychlos is a tortuous period that brings the unexpected opportunity for an advanced education delivered through the rapidity of alien technology. As Jonnie learns, he leverages this knowledge with his inclination for survival, his desire for freedom for all men, and his inherent leadership ability.
I asked my sons about this, also. They’ve shared their thoughts below (yes, I made this part of schoolwork):
From our 15 year old:
Though you might not think there would be similarities between the Harry Potter series and Battlefield Earth, there are some surprising comparisons you can make. While Battlefield Earth is clearly a science-fiction novel, they don’t know how much of the technology they’re using works, almost like the magic in Harry Potter. To quote Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Another similarity is how the goal and the scale of the stories change over time – at first, Harry Potter is just about protecting the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Battlefield Earth is about seeing whether the monsters actually exist. But as time goes on in both stories, the entire world ends up at stake. Overall, Harry Potter and Battlefield Earth are more similar than you would think at first.
From our 13 year old:
There are great similarities between Battlefield Earth and the Harry Potter series. Jonnie was like Harry Potter, and in both stories, neither person knew what the were doing. Bitty, from Battlefield Earth, is like Dobby from the Harry Potter series because they both helped without being asked and tried to help so hard that the ended up getting killed. Scotland is close the Order Of The Phoenix. They both had resources but lacked leadership provided by the main character. The village council acted the same as the Ministry Of Magic. They were both so scared of the danger being real, they just denied its possibility.
From our 11 year old:
The Psychlos are like Voldemort and his followers. Jonnie didn’t know what to do to fight against the Psychlos, similar to Harry not knowing what to do with the locket horcrux in the Deathly Hallows. Jonnie’s
village didn’t want him to go looking for the Psychlos, like Harry’s friends didn’t want him to go looking for the Horcruxes by himself. When Jonnie found out about how Uranium would kill Pyschlos, there was a
similarity to when Hermione found out that Basilisk venom would destroy horcruxes.