60 Books In 2019 #17: Heretics Of Dune By Frank Herbert

I’m moving slowly these past few months. I’m working really hard to get more in, but I’m definitely, definitely trying.

Anyway, there were some really fun things to talk about in Heretics Of Dune, the penultimate book in this series that has consumed my imagination in a secondary way this past year.

Heretics picks up after yet another millenia has past, The Bene Gesserit have persisted, and have taken over the training of the Duncan Idaho gholas. They’ve also surpervised the breeding on Arrakis, now known as Rakis, to produce another Fremen bent girl. The current Duncan is like, 13 I think? Ages are weird in these books.

Anyway, there’s a new faction of sex warriors, which the Gesserit don’t like at all, and as it turns out the whole point of the Duncan Ghola is to just have sex with every woman ever. All of a sudden the casting of Jason Momoa as this character somehow became even more perfect casting?

Anyway, there’s a plan, it goes pear shaped, Duncan doesn’t cooperate, the Fremen girl is a pain in the ass. All very standard post Children, Dune shit. But I enjoyed the book. It really solidified Herberts, men as rational women as emtional binary which I’ve been consciously ignoring through the rest of the books, because it was always there, but never you know, there. (This is what made Paul Atreides so special, you see, he had both the Mentat rationale and the Bene Gesserit intuition. *insert eyeroll gif here*) At the very least, Herbert does assert that without both humanity is doomed, so that’s a little bit better.

Anyway, I’ll finish this series if it kills me, so Chapterhouse Dune is next. I can pretty much guess what comes next on each page of these books now. Which is fun, but also, eh, makes me less than psyched for what comes next. I hope to be surprised. (Duncan Idaho being the sex savior did throw me for a loop, so there’s that.)

Edit: JUST KIDDING! I will eventually read Chapterhouse, but I got 20 pages in and my eyes were rolled back into my head. So back to the library it goes, and I shall be reading Fosse by Sam Wassan. Because I’m obsessed. Hopefully this will help. (It won’t.)

 

36 Books In 2018 #31: God Emperor Of Dune by Frank Herbert

It’s been a long time since I’ve had the all consuming desire to chuck a book I was reading across a room. Maybe since A Clash Of Kings and I thought that Arya had been killed in the aftermath of the Red Wedding.

But God Emperor Of Dune did it. Wow is this book brilliant, weird and goddamned frustrating. 

We’re now several thousand years removed from the ending of Children Of Dune which bummed me out, since I really like Ghani, and this mean she was very dead, and Leto has now been largely consumed by the body of a sandworm. Also he keeps getting Duncan clones, holds the galaxy in thrall as  if he were a god (he is not) and decides to marry a pretty girl, who of course, his current Duncan clone is in  love with.

Look, I admire the way that Herbert plays with the stories of maidens and dragons here, and the rambly philosophical weirdness of Leto’s lonely existence is great, but this one was a tough go, especially after Children, which I totally adored. And I’m gonna finish this series. (Or at least the Frank Herbert books, I’ve heard that Brian Herbert’s further investigation into his father’s work are skippable. Thoughts?)

But wow, I had trouble with this particular entry in the series. Part of it was how alien and different from the rest of the books it felt, the millenia induced time jump was disorienting and the fact that Dune is no longer Dune but the ecologically balanced Arakis envisioned in the first book makes everything weird.

Also, the feminist in me is a little bit frustrated that there’s an “all the ladies wanna bone Duncan Idaho” strain in these books. It’s eye rollingly annoying, even if he’s the Lancelot to Leto’s Arthur here, which is a sort of interesting part for the sword master to play.

The other theme that Herbert plays with here, is the danger of nostalgia which feels really important right now, but that doesn’t emerge until the end which is unfortunate. But still, there’s some good stuff here, and I’ll pick up Heretics soon-ish.

Up next is Infinite Jest which I am about 100 pages into and both deeply admire and kind of hate. So, we’ll see how that goes.

36 Books In 2018 #22: Children Of Dune By Frank Herbert

Man, the Atreides are one rough family.

I mean, I’m really glad to be reading The Dune Chronicles, but jeez this family is dysfunctional, I feel like The Lannisters have less going on than them.

Regardless, this chapter focuses on Leto II and Ghanima, the twin children of Paul Atreides as they reach ten years old and realize that pretty much everyone in the world wants them dead. Alia, who’s succumbed to the genetic memories of the evil Baron Harkonens (YESSS, Dune world weirdness), their grandmother Jessica, who has returned to the fold of the Bene Gesserit and who know they’re a threat to the plans of the order.  Their cousins of House Corrino who want to regain control of the Impirium.

So, anyway, they fake Leto’s death, (sure) and Ghanima has to convince everyone that their cousin Faradn’ is absolutely the last person she’ll ever marry ever. Also, they’re ten. But they have the full genetic memories of both the Atreides and The Fremen.

Oh, right and there’s a mysterious preacher running around who might be Paul (it is) preaching that the followers of Mua’dib have lost their way. (They have)

Leto ascends to a new level of consciousness, marries his sister and blackmails Faradn’ into being the father of her children (he is no longer human and is thus sterile, or something?) Oh, also Duncan Idaho gets killed again.

I like this one much more than Messiah, and I definitely invested in the characters this time around. (Stockholm Syndrome? Finally just all in? Dunno, but I care now) and I can’t wait to find out what happens next. It’ll be a bit before I can pick up God Emperor Of Dune because I’ve got some stuff I want to read before hitting a bookstore again.

Overall though, I’m so glad I’ve jumped into this world, really, it’s been so much bonkers great fun.

Up next is part 5 of The Epics Project, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes…my destiny calls and I go…

30 Books In 2018 #12: Dune Messiah By Frank Herbert

I read a lot in February you guys! Go me!

Anyway, Dune Messiah.

I was so excited to get my hands on this one, and dig into it. And uh. Well.

I didn’t like it as much as Dune. It’s definitely weirder in spots, but unlike it’s predecessor, which hints at a larger really cool world while telling a fairly straightforward story, Dune Messiah, feels like much more straightforward court plotting. About characters who, as I stated when I wrote up Dune, I don’t care that much about.

I mean, there’s still oddness and cool sci-fi world hinting, but it’s much more focused in on the politics of Paul Astreide’s reign as emperor, and specifically how he’s going to produce an heir. He’s vowed to never have sex with his wife Irulan, who at the behest of the Bene-Gesserit, has been secretly feeding his concubine Chuni a contraceptive. Also, The Bene-Gesserit sort of what Paul to impregnate his sister Alia? For reasons?

Oh also, Alia is falling in love with the reanimated zombie corpse of Paul’s sword master Duncan Idaho.

Like you do.

So, about that last part, there is a society which creates zombie slaves, like, on the reg, just for fun, in this universe and it’s thrown away in a single line? WHAT THE HELL, FRANK HERBERT? That is way more interesting than Paul sighing about how he doesn’t get to run around the desert with the Fremen anymore, or vaguely talking about his visions being a pain in the ass, or whatever.

Paul, no one made you eat so much spice you saw into the total consciousness of time, and no one made you marry poor Irulan and declare yourself emperor. You did that all by yourself, buddy, so quit moping about it. That said, I do appreciate the way Herbert plays with chosen one narratives, by making the chosen one sort of a dick.

Anyway, I think if I liked or cared about the characters here more, I’d have enjoyed the book more. Normally everything that happened is right up my alley, but it just came up short because I’m not invested in the people.

I’m still going to keep going on this series, because it’s fun easy reading and it feels somehow essential to my ongoing nerd education to get this one under my belt. And I want to find out if Alia ever does manage to get it on with that zombie….so sometime in March I’ll pick up Children Of Dune.

Up next is Call Me By Your Name because I want to read it before I see the movie, and I want to see the movie before the Oscars. YAY!

 

30 Books In 2018 #5 & The Epics Project #2: Dune by Frank Herbert

It always strikes me when I sit down to take on a great work of science fiction, how little science fiction I’ve actually absorbed in my life. Which means, most of what I’ve actually taken in, be it through reading or watching or listening is the good stuff. Bradbury, Vonnegut, Star Trek, 2001, the Ender & Shadow series.

Every warning I’ve heard about Dune had me on my guard as I dove into the book. It suffers from “inventor syndrome,” (it’s been so imitated and strip mined that it’s revolutions seem cliche now.) it’s impenetrably weird, (it is!) and most of all, it’s long.

The length didn’t bother me. For all the jargon and Herbert’s refusal to provide easy world building, the prose itself is easy, and the story moves along at an irresistible clip. Hell, I read the thing in a week right? The weirdness delighted rather than alienated me. I’ve got other plans at the moment, but like The Dark Tower last year, I think the Dune series is going to dominate my thoughts and TBR pile, because I want to know every inch of this universe. And as a recovering lit student, seeing the building blocks of things that I love in older fiction is one of the true joys of reading older work. Seeing the seeds of Luke Skywalker and Buffy Summers in Paul Astreides gave the book deeper power over me.

It’s not perfect. One of the reasons I have difficulty with sci-fi as a genre is that the men who write it (it’s nearly always men) have a sort of antiseptic detachment to their characters and settings that doesn’t suit the way I invest in fiction, unless I’m reading academically. (And even then, I got way too emotional about the books I was reading. Multiple professors told me I needed to detach more.) So, that leaves me reading in a more academic way, which keeps me from falling fully into a story.

But I more than appreciated the richness of the world in Dune, and I want more of it. I want to know everything about the society and the religions and the noble houses and the politics and all of it. Like I said, it’s similar to how I felt reading The Dark Tower last year.

Here’s the difference though, with The Dark Tower, I wanted to know what happened to Roland and Jake, and Susannah and Eddie (especially Eddie). I don’t really care much about what happens to Paul Astreides, the man who is now Muad’dib, or his family, but I’m curious, in an academic way, about his world.

Anyway, rather than dive right into Dune Messiah, I’m going to reset my brain by reading the latest Dan Brown (NO JUDGING! My Dad said this one was is actually kind of fun again!) (Also he read Twilight for me like 10 years ago, so I owe him one…) and maybe something fluffy and girly after that.

March’s epic will be David Copperfield. 2 down, 10 to go. (Also 5 down and 25 to go!)