Readers will either love God Emperor of Dune or hate it. It’s quite different from the previous Dune novels, or indeed any other book I’ve read. It takes place 3,500 years after the original Dune. Leto II rules as emperor and has transformed into sandworm. There are no epic battles and Leto’s dominance quickly squashes those few conspiracies against him. Rather, God Emperor of Dune feels like Leto’s attempt to educate the reader about politics and religion. The book is written in a quasi-epistolary format, with significant sections drawn from Leto’s secret journals, Bene Gesserit reports, and other primary sources. The book focuses on the relationship between the Leto, his majordomo Moneo, Moneo’s daughter and rebel leader Siona, and another Duncan Idaho ghola. The narrative follows these four as they attempt to make sense of Leto’s empire and Paul’s legacy.
This weekend, I’m attending the Mythgard Institute’s fifth Mythmoot, a conference that brings together fans and academics to talk about speculative fiction. I’m presenting a paper on the politics of Frank Herbert’s Dune. The schedule is available on the Mythmoot website. Hope to see some old friends there!
I enjoyed the Sci-Fi Channel’s Dune miniseries, but was also frustrated by its weak acting and special effects. Fortunately, the Sci-Fi Channel’s Children of Dune miniseries improves upon its predecessor in every way. It manages to provide an effective distillation of Frank Herbert’s Dune Messiah and Children of Dune.
Children of Dune continues Dune Messiah‘s deconstruction of the hero. Alia becomes regent of the empire as Paul’s children, Ghanima and Leto II, struggle with their father’s legacy. As Alia struggles to maintain control over the empire, we see her lose her grip on reality. Like Paul, she’s both despot and victim. Meanwhile, a mysterious Preacher starts to criticize the empire and the state-sponsored religion.
Frank Herbert’s Dune is wildly popular. His sequels are not. Dune was a story about a young man’s rise to ultimate power. Dune Messiah is about his fall from grace. If Dune is the prototypical Campbellian Hero’s Journey, Dune Messiah is a deconstruction of the hero. In this book, we learn that Paul Muad’Dib has become a tyrant and that his rule has caused death and destruction, especially to those closest to him. Continue reading ““Dune Messiah” by Frank Herbert”
As a kid, I always saw myself as Luke Skywalker, but I always wanted to be Han Solo. As I wrote when The Last Jedicame out, I identified with Luke’s awkwardness and compassion, but envied Han’s charm and natural skill. It wasn’t until later that I began to appreciate the complexities in Han’s character arc. Han Solo isn’t simply a walking bundle of swagger. Over the course of the Original Trilogy, the character overcame his insecurities and learned to trust people. In many ways, Solo: A Star Wars Story, the latest Star Wars film from Disney and Lucasfilm, builds upon this and enriches the character arc. However, in attempting to provide a backstory for Solo, it also removes some of the mystery and possibly smoothens the character’s rougher edges.
Continue reading “Solo: A Star Wars Story”
Last week, I made clear my opinion of David Lynch’s Dune. That remains the only version of Dune ever released in theaters. However, in 2000, the Sci-Fi Channel released a TV miniseries adaptation of Dune. Fortunately, it’s not bad. The screenplay actually resembles Frank Herbert’s novel and manages to balance political intrigue with action. The show’s problems are mostly technical, particularly the acting and special effects.
I admit I’m not a fan David Lynch’s adaptation of Dune. I have many problems with the film, but the biggest is that it completely misses the point of the novel. Dune is not a hero’s journey. It’s not simply a grimdark Star Wars. Rather, it’s a story about the dangers of charismatic leadership and the interplay between political and religious power. In the movie, we don’t get to her Paul’s internal struggle, much less any hint that his jihad might have negative repercussions for the future. Indeed, in the final scene from the film, rain pours down as if to bless Paul’s victory. Continue reading ““Dune” (1984 film)”
Over 50 years after its initial publication, Dune remains one of the most exotic sci-fi epics ever written. Set some 20,000 years in the future, it portrays a future that resembles the Middle Ages more than Star Trek. The galaxy is ruled by an emperor, along with several powerful feudal houses, the Space Guild corporate monopoly over space travel, and the Bene Gesserit religious order, all locked in an uneasy balance of power. Dune itself chronicles the struggle for the planet Arrakis, source of the crucial “spice” drug, as well as the rise of a new politico-religious leader, Paul Atreides. Of course, for many, the stars of the book are the giant sandworms, huge creatures hundreds of meters long the are both revered and feared by the local Fremen people. Continue reading ““Dune” by Frank Herbert”