Science fiction has long been used as a metaphorical vehicle for dealing with grief or trauma. “Zojaqan” feels like it belongs in this tradition, but also takes it in a new direction. Continue reading ““Zojaqan””
I had the benefit of reading many negative reviews about this book before I decided to read it. My expectations were so low that I found myself enjoying it far more than I’d expected. To be clear, this book is not high literature. It’s not nearly as deep or rich as any of Frank Herbert’s Dune novels. Nevertheless, it provides a fun and even sometimes interesting backstory for Paul Atreides. Continue reading ““Paul of Dune” by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson”
In the late 1990s, over a decade after Frank Herbert’s untimely death, his Brian and Kevin J. Anderson decided to pick up the Dune saga where he left off. Well, almost. Instead of writing a direct sequel to Chapterhouse Dune, they decided to start with a prequel to the original Dune. The three books – House Atreides, House Harkonnen, and House Corrino – form a loose trilogy exploring the major houses of the Dune franchise. Despite the titles, the books aren’t exclusively, or even primarily, about the titular Houses, but rather cover a range of events before the original Dune.
I’ve talked about David Lynch’s Dune movie and the Sci-Fi Channel’s Dune miniseries, but the most ambitious Dune adaptation never made it off the page. Jodorowsky’s Dune chronicles Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s attempt to bring Dune to the big screen during the 1970s. He failed, but, as the documentary argues, that failure had an enormous on science fiction in cinema. It’s certainly a fascinating look at what might have been, even if I’m not convinced a Jodorowsky Dune would have been faithful to the novel. Continue reading ““Jodorowsky’s Dune””
Dune has often been called the science-fiction equivalent of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, but compared to that oeuvre we have almost no scholarship about the development of the Dune saga. Certainly nothing like Christopher Tolkien’s fantastic History of Middle-earth series exists. Fortunately, The Road to Dune helps to remedy that, at least partially. Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson provide an earlier draft of Dune, deleted chapters, as well as letters from Frank Herbert to his publisher.
Chapterhouse: Dune continues directly from Heretics of Dune. However, where Heretics seemed like an overly long prologue, Chapterhouse starts to provide push the characters in interesting ways. There’s more conflict, both internal and external. While the Bene Gesserit finally confront the Honored Matres, some of the characters are forced to make difficult decisions. Overall, this is far from my favorite of the Dune saga, but it’s a vast improvement over Heretics and left me wanting more. Continue reading ““Chapterhouse: Dune” by Frank Herbert”
Heretics of Dune is where the Dune saga starts to falter. The book is set 1,500 years after Emperor Leto’s reign and the Scattering of humans into the far reaches of the galaxy. The story focuses on the Bene Gesserit, which is an interesting choice. The Bene Gesserit have been a mainstay of the series since the beginning, but they’ve always functioned as antagonists or secondary characters. As the book starts, the Bene Gesserit discover that the humans who went off during the Scattering are returning, but that they’re not the same.
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.