According to editor Patrick LoBrutto
“Hunting Harkonnens” is a wild roller coaster of a tale reminiscent of classic short stories like “The Most Dangerous Game” and the great SF stories of Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Frank Herbert. It tells the story of the deadly hunt by the cymeks for Piers Harkonnen, the older brother of Xavier Harkonnen, just one of the new characters to be found in THE BUTLERIAN JIHAD.
Sounds exciting. Page 1. Shall we get started?
Stern, hardline Ulf Harkonnen piloted the yacht, concentrating on the hazards of space and the constant threat of thinking machines, though he kept lecturing his twenty- one-year-old son, Piers. Ulf's wife Katarina, too gentle a soul to be worthy of the Harkonnen name, asserted that the quarrel had gone on long enough.
In this text it would appear that Brian Herbert will play the role of poor Piers. And the harsh Ulf is a representation of his father Frank Herbert. This seems to signify a certain resentment between son and father. I can see the stern Frank Herbert being frustrated by his son for whom he was passing on a significant literary achievement. His adult son had none of the intellectual curiosity of the father, nor the work ethic and drive to create something meaningful.
In the very next sentence we see something that could perhaps related to a close female connection to Brian. This could really be anyone: his wife; sister; child. Someone who has an interested in patching the divide between father and son.
Ulf's wife Katarina, too gentle a soul to be worthy of the Harkonnen name, asserted that the quarrel had gone on long enough. "Further criticism and shouting will serve no purpose, Ulf." Vehemently, the elder Harkonnen disagreed.
I think this line says a lot about Brian actually. He’s someone who is willing to let others fight his battles for him. He gives up; he accepts that he’s the victim; he backs down instead of standing up for himself.
Piers sat fuming, unrepentant; he was not cut out for the cutthroat practices his noble family expected, no matter how much his father tried to bully them into him. He knew Ulf would browbeat and humiliate him all the way home.
The gruff older man refused to consider that his son's ideas for more humane methods might actually be more efficient than the inflexible, domineering ways. Clutching the ship controls as if in a death grip, Ulf growled at his son, "Thinking machines are efficient. Humans, especially riffraff like our slaves on Hagal, are meant to be used. I doubt you'll ever get that through your skull."
It’s at this point I realize I should just substitute the names Frank and Brian for Ulf and Piers.
He shook his large, squarish head. "Sometimes, Piers, I think I should clean up the gene pool by eliminating you." "Then why don't you?" Piers snapped, defiant. His father believed in forceful decisions, every question with a black-and-white answer, and that belittling his son would drive him to do better. "I can't, because your brother Xavier is too young to be the Harkonnen heir, so you're the only choice I have . . . for the time being. I keep hoping you'll understand your responsibility to our family. You're a noble, meant to command, not to show the workers how soft you can be."
This is where the resentful Brian lets us know how harsh his father is and he knows he’s really his father’s only hope for a continuing literary family legacy.
He knows that his brother is an even bigger disappointment that he is.
In the next line Katarina sticks up for him again outlining his latest accomplishment but the father shoots that down as well and lets his son know that even that “accomplishment” wouldn’t have amounted to much without his own influence.
Reminds me of an aspiring writer who gets a little boost from the family name and the experience co-authoring a book with the successful writer.
I'll get to other pages as time permits, but I think this gives us enough to talk about for a while.