Why the K&B books are not consistent with the originals.

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Lundse
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Why the K&B books are not consistent with the originals.

Postby Lundse » 01 Jul 2008 13:03

Old topic, I know - bear with me... :-)

I post this here as an attempt to have the debate in a free forum - I was thrown out for trying on the www.dunenovels.com board...

So, I posted there and told them that I have also dual-posted here (Link: http://www.dunenovels.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=109&start=360). If they are serious in their belief that they can defend their viewpoint, they might come here (even after I am thrown out over there by the administrator).

I understand if people are sick and tired of this debate, but I hope you will join in and that if you do, you will help make this a civil and to-the-point discussion.

Regards,
Lundse

---

Why the new Dune novels by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson are inconsistent with Frank Herberts original novels.

0. Caveat.
This is not the place to discuss whether copyright holders are 'always right'. Start a new thread if you want to argue that 'Brian owns the copyright, he is right in everything he says about Dune', nor is it the place for 'It has the name Dune on the cover, therefore it is Dune, therefore not liking it is sacrilege' and similar arguments. The discussion is about the two bodies of work - are the later works compatible with the universe, themes and characters as we came to know them from the originals.
Also note that this is a different question than whether the old books are compatible with the new ones - such a viewpoint is trivial to defend, the following stories are all compatible with the old Dune books: 'Once upon a time, Winnie the Pooh became a god and created a universe in which... [all Dune books] ...and then he showed up and made everyone cake and they were happy' or, alternatively; 'The Matrix has you, Paul'.


1. Details.

There are a lot of lesser or greater details which contradict the originals. These include when and where Duncan got his sword bloodied, how Jessica wound up with the Duke, where Paul was born, etc., etc..

Counterarguments I have heard (taken together, these may be reasonable):
A few mistakes are OK, especially since ol' Frank even made a few.
At least some of these can be explained, and since they are only details, it is OK that we have to _bend how we read the originals a bit_ (eg. Paul was "almost born on Caladan", or Irulan lied to tell a better story).
They are not all that important.


2. Silliness.

The new novels read like fanfiction. This is not meant as an attack on the writing style; different people like different things (an argument could be constructed that the style is sufficienty different to be a problem in itself - this is not my errand here as it comes down to taste). The problem is that we are asked to take serious stuff which is clearly "filler", namedropping and cheap re-uses of tropes from the originals. This goes beyond what is expected (themes and characters would naturally pop up) and what is acceptable (a little verbal nod or cameo of someone who becomes important later).

This includes:
Gurney and Liet meeting up. Puts a rather unnecessary strain on one's credibility that two capable men are both unable to recognise each other at all later on. No common themes are explored except 'they fight together and stuff', which is frankly superflous.
Gholas up the whazzoo. Why bring back everybody at the end if you are going to kill them off anyhow and not reexplore their themes, characters, etc. Making a happy ending for Paul and Chani belittles the tragedy that was Dune Messiah for no apparent reason and robs them of their dignity. Was it necessary to make a point? Having Alia in the head of the baron is a fun thought, but one better suited for a webcomic or other fanfiction - did it accomplish anything, was it explained, did we learn anything about Alia or the baron?
Ultraspice, Waterworms, evil-Paul and super-Kwisatz Haderach. Making a super- or reverse- version of stuff from the old books seems like a fanboy fantasy and nothing more. How do these things further the themes and thoughts of the book (not 'how do they bring the plot forward', which is trivial and unimportant - Winnie the Pooh brought the plot forward when he served cake)?

Counterarguments I have heard:
'I like it' seems reasonable to a degree. The question, is, however, whether it fits in the tone, setting and themes of the originals. Noone has argued for this, to my knowledge.


3. Important events.

The Jihad is the prime example, but the importance of Norma Cenva and the idea Golden Path could be others. In the original series, the Jihad is described as a religious war grounded in a perceived need to do without and be independent of machines (a sentiment and theme which resonates powerfully with Paul's dependency on visions and all slippery slopes of power and tools within the books). The clearest indication we have is a quote spoken during the Jihad: "We must negate the machines-that-think. Humans must set their own guidelines. This is not something machines can do. Reasoning depends upon programming, not on hardware, and we are the ultimate program! Our Jihad is a 'dump program.' We dump the things which destroy us as humans!" Machine agression, slave pens, etc. are not mentioned - they would be rather relevant to riling up a crowd, which is what is happening here.

Counterarguments I have heard:
'We can construct explanations for why the characters in the originals did not mention the psycho-cyborgs, human enslavement or the insane AIs.' This is not good enough, however; what we need is for the originals to fit with the image which Frank conjured. We cannot use the new novels to interpret Frank's before they have been established as consistent and canon.
'From reading the originals, I thought it was a machine-initiated war of aggresion' No you didn't. Or you watched Terminator the night before. I have seen the claim, but noone has been able to tell me what parts they got the idea from.


4. New stuff.

The Dune universe has always been 'magical' in that stuff happens which do not fit into our universe. But Frank was careful about what he included; there were no fireballs, prescience was semi-explained as heightened awareness of the present along with mentat powers of probability projection, Bene Gesserit abilities were based on observation and body-control, etc. The two examples I submit for consideration are the psionic powers of the Bene Gesserit forerunners, and the Oracle of Time and her alternate dimensions. Both are totally new inventions to the Dune universe, in comparison to which the powers of the 'original cast' pale - these things are thrown in for the action, or for solving a problem one has written oneself into in order to have the conflict bigger than anything in the originals. Neither is a commendable literary goal.
Again, we have to compare with the vision one got from reading the originals: do characters in this universe have telekinesis? Are there alternate dimensions and timetravelling spirits of the ancients with god-like powers?

Counterarguments I have heard:
'Maybe Jessica et al. had telekinetic powers in the originals, but never used them.' Nope, we know Jessicas thoughts from various times she or her son were in danger, and she never even considered them to save anyone.
'Powers were forgotten.' Nope - the Bene Gesserit and their precursors were not idiots, they were actually rather keen students of history.
'Its seems no stranger than prescience.' You're right, in a way it doesn't. But the Dune series is one big take on knowledge of the future and past as a metaphor on the dangers of concentrating and wielding power. There could be no Dune without prescience and Frank created an entire ecosystem, culture and universe where it would fit in. Dropping telekinetic burst of energy into the mix does not compare.


5. Themes.
This is the big one. We have Frank on statement, explicitly saying that he was making an anti-hero book. Not a book with an anti-hero, we have enough of those - but one using the hero-myth (of Campbell fame) to deconstruct the hero-myth, which he saw as dangerous. Paul could not save mankind, he only doomed it further - his actions may be noble and commendable, but he was doomed to fail and did so. Dune Messiah is one big emo sulk-fest over how bad a hero is for himself, his loved ones, his culture and the universe. Leto II saves humanity, not by being a hero, but a monster. One act of heroics does nothing but make people dependent on heroics, Leto's tragic choice is to doom himself to torture and infamy so that humanity will spread out and grow beyond the control of any one being. The message: humanity must deal with humanities problems, which are unpredictable and ever-returning.
Compare this to the end of K&B's books. Duncan the hero becomes the ultimate super-hero, after the semi-god-oracle has wished away the big baddie and they all live happily ever after. The morale of this story is: it's all gonna turn out fine, kids - just wait for the Oracle to fix things.

Counterarguments I have heard:
None.

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Re: Why the K&B books are not consistent with the origin

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 01 Jul 2008 13:16

Lundse wrote:5. Themes.
This is the big one. We have Frank on statement, explicitly saying that he was making an anti-hero book. Not a book with an anti-hero, we have enough of those - but one using the hero-myth (of Campbell fame) to deconstruct the hero-myth, which he saw as dangerous. Paul could not save mankind, he only doomed it further - his actions may be noble and commendable, but he was doomed to fail and did so. Dune Messiah is one big emo sulk-fest over how bad a hero is for himself, his loved ones, his culture and the universe. Leto II saves humanity, not by being a hero, but a monster. One act of heroics does nothing but make people dependent on heroics, Leto's tragic choice is to doom himself to torture and infamy so that humanity will spread out and grow beyond the control of any one being. The message: humanity must deal with humanities problems, which are unpredictable and ever-returning.
Compare this to the end of K&B's books. Duncan the hero becomes the ultimate super-hero, after the semi-god-oracle has wished away the big baddie and they all live happily ever after. The morale of this story is: it's all gonna turn out fine, kids - just wait for the Oracle to fix things.

Counterarguments I have heard:
None.


I've also heard nothing on this one; the most important of all the failings of the new books. I (and everyone else) have brought it up again and again at DN to no avail. No one has even tried to explain how we are expected to believe that this is a theme/ending FH came up with. I'll buy certain things having possibly been in the "notes" but not this ending, and not Normacle.
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Postby Phaedrus » 01 Jul 2008 14:08

Nice list. I'd like to add-

6. Writing

Sample text from The Machine Crusade:

Venport laughed. "You don't have to like Keedair, Norma. Just let him do his work." He sighed. 'And, trust me, I'd rather stay as well. But I have too much work to do- and I'm afraid my time here with you would be so enjoyable that I'd be completely distracted from accomplishing anything worthwhile.
She giggled with girlish joy. Venport caught himself, wondering if he'd actually been flirting with her. After a moment's consideration, he decided that he had. After so many years of close friendship, he asked himself why that should surprise him.
The construction manager hurried out of the hangar, looking for Venport. "We just recieved a signal, Directeur. The vessel has received routine clearance and is on its way down through the atmosphere. Tuk Keedair is at the controls."


Redundancies, cliches, telling instead of showing, and just bad writing. What's with that spelling of Director? They try to be clever with linguistics, but they fail miserably. I could go into the textual analysis, but it's obvious that it's just plain old bad writing.

Sample text from Chapterhouse Dune:
Miles Teg enjoyed playing in the orchards around Central. Odrade had first taken him here when he could just toddle. One of his earliest active memories: hardly more than two years old and already aware he was a ghola, though he did not understand the word's full meaning.
"You are a special child," Odrade said. "We made you from cells taken
from a very old man."
Although he was a precocious child and her words had a vaguely disturbing sound, he was more interested then in running through tall summer grass beneath the trees.
Later, he added other orchard days to that first one, accumulating as well impressions about Odrade and the others who taught him. He recognized quite early that Odrade enjoyed the excursions as much as he did. One afternoon in his fourth year, he told her: "Spring is my favorite time."
"Mine, too."
When he was seven and already showing the mental brilliance coupled to holographic memory that had caused the Sisterhood to place such heavy responsibilities on his previous incarnation, he suddenly saw the orchards as a place touching something deep inside him.


First of all, notice that Frank Herbert selects 3 moments in a seven year period to touch on. The writing only tells you what you need to know- no more, no less. It's almost hard to compare it to the writing in the new books, because the level of difference is so great.

Brian and Kevin claim they could have written Hunters and Sandworms "in Frank's style," but it's clear they don't even know what that means. Frank Herbert's style goes above and beyond their best efforts in every way. Nothing they've ever written shows even the slightest level of nuance or subtlety, while Frank's work is packed with it.

There's just no comparison.

Counterarguments: Writing style doesn't make a better book. Some people prefer Kevin and Brian's style, some people prefer Frank's.

Well, we're not talking about style, we're talking about the writing being bad. There's a difference. I enjoy books by authors with vastly different styles, but the New Dune is unique in that it has almost no style, just a lot of bad writing.

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Postby Mandy » 01 Jul 2008 20:10

Mahnmut post this link over at Worm's http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... d=91205874 It's Ursula K Le Guin talking about how Doctor Zhivago influenced her and her writing.. It loved this part:

Only now do I realize how much I learned about writing a novel from Pasternak — the way a writer can leap across miles and years, so long as you land in the right place; the way accuracy of detail embodies emotion; the way that leaving more out allows you to get more in.


I wish P&tB had learned that lesson. I don't understand why they are so repetitious, or why they feel they need to supply every detail as if we don't have an imagination.

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Postby SandChigger » 01 Jul 2008 21:14

In short...less is more. ;)

(Funny: the next thing I was thinking about blogging was the first three paragraphs of Banks' Use of Weapons compared to the same of KJA's Hidden Empire. There is no comparison, though, really.

And I recall Kevin getting really pissy in an exchange where I suggested comparing an excerpt of his work with one from something by Alastair Reynolds. Two names he recently cited as writers he enjoys. :lol: )
"Let the dead give water to the dead. As for me, it's NO MORE FUCKING TEARS!"

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Postby A Thing of Eternity » 01 Jul 2008 22:40

Alastair would butcher KJA's writing, and Alastair isn't exactly Shakespear.
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Postby Hunchback Jack » 02 Jul 2008 10:59

Leto II saves humanity, not by being a hero, but a monster. One act of heroics does nothing but make people dependent on heroics, Leto's tragic choice is to doom himself to torture and infamy so that humanity will spread out and grow beyond the control of any one being. The message: humanity must deal with humanities problems, which are unpredictable and ever-returning.
Compare this to the end of K&B's books. Duncan the hero becomes the ultimate super-hero, after the semi-god-oracle has wished away the big baddie and they all live happily ever after. The morale of this story is: it's all gonna turn out fine, kids - just wait for the Oracle to fix things.


The negation of Frank's original themes is explicit, especially in Sandworms. There are numerous mentions of the "damage" Leto II did in causing the Scattering, which broke humanity up instead of being unified under one leader. There is also a mention of Leto's 3500 years of enforced peace being the only positive thing he had done.

These statements completely rewrite the history of Dune in this respect. Leto's "enforced peace" was a necessary evil - a means to an end. The end was the Golden Path - the freedom of humanity from domination by a precient ruler, from the need for spice, from the need for Arrakis, from all the self-imposed limitations that tied them to the Old Empire and the same old power structures.

The new Dune books revert to the hackneyed cliche of survival through the strong leadership of a hero, and through superhuman abilities. Look where that got Paul. And it took Leto II 3500 years to fix it.

And the bad guys in the new novels have to be big, evil, powerful things that can be destroyed. In the originals, the "bad guys" were more subtle - stagnation, evolutionary dead-ends, dependence on thinking machines. I guess you can't blow up those, though.

You could also include:

7. Bad Science

This might be a sub-topic of 'Details", perhaps. But the Duniverse had certain advances in tech - and didn't have others. If you're going to introduce new ones, you'd better at least explain them.

What comes to mind is the FTL capability of Omnius's fleet. In the conventional Duniverse, folding space is the only FTL option; otherwise it's tedious hours or days getting on- and off- planet. In Sandworms, not only does Omnius's fleet conquer hundreds of star systems in a couple of years, they seem to flit around planetary systems in short order - hours at most. But with no space-folding (for reasons which aren't clear, incidentally).

Counterarguments:
Who cares, it's just a novel?

Funny: the next thing I was thinking about blogging was the first three paragraphs of Banks' Use of Weapons compared to the same of KJA's Hidden Empire. There is no comparison, though, really.


That would have been a great comparison, but I must say, there aren't many people you could compare favourably with Banks. That guy can write, and UoW is probably his best SF work.

HBJ

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Postby A Thing of Eternity » 02 Jul 2008 11:46

Hunchback Jack wrote:7. Bad Science
This might be a sub-topic of 'Details", perhaps. But the Duniverse had certain advances in tech - and didn't have others. If you're going to introduce new ones, you'd better at least explain them.

What comes to mind is the FTL capability of Omnius's fleet. In the conventional Duniverse, folding space is the only FTL option; otherwise it's tedious hours or days getting on- and off- planet. In Sandworms, not only does Omnius's fleet conquer hundreds of star systems in a couple of years, they seem to flit around planetary systems in short order - hours at most. But with no space-folding (for reasons which aren't clear, incidentally).
HBJ


Don't get me started, fuck, it's too late. Not only do those ships travel at FTL speeds, they do it with engines that cannot under any circumstances surpass the speed of light. Also, as I'm so fond of pointing out to Byron/the preeks, there's a passage in Sandworms which specifically states that Omnius' fleer has only lightspeed ships - not FTL. That's a blatent contradiction of both the Legends series and the rest of Sandworms, I will not be surprised if they try to "explain" that one as a typo (which is bullshit - what else could it have have been before it got "typo'd"?) and dissapear it out of the next printing. I wrote a gigantic post over at DN on all the reasons that those engines in the Legends series make no sense, and a detailed explaination of why it adds up to bad writing and cannot be defended as "style". I didn't get one single counter argument, not even "Who cares, it's just a novel?"
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Postby Lundse » 02 Jul 2008 12:06

I am getting a bit miffed about the lack of responses. Far be it from me to suggest the absence of counterarguments proves the claim. BUT, it does suggest something when the official forum where supporters gather is not responding at all...

On another node, the added suggestions are great - is text here GPL'ed, CC'ed or copyrighted? One day, I might want to add all the stuff I have on the subject on some obscure webpage or something.

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Postby Nekhrun » 02 Jul 2008 13:30

Lundse wrote:I am getting a bit miffed about the lack of responses. Far be it from me to suggest the absence of counterarguments proves the claim. BUT, it does suggest something when the official forum where supporters gather is not responding at all..

Don't expect any either. In about a week or so after soliciting responses arnoldo will post some fuckwit comment or snide remark effectively ending discussion on the matter. This has happened to me many times. Go over there and post a tumbleweed or something, that'll get them going. Byron will probably start with some vague response with no evidence to back up his opinion.

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Postby Freakzilla » 02 Jul 2008 13:47

Lundse wrote:On another node, the added suggestions are great - is text here GPL'ed, CC'ed or copyrighted? One day, I might want to add all the stuff I have on the subject on some obscure webpage or something.


No, have at it.
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Postby loremaster » 02 Jul 2008 14:13

I dont think you can fail pinky and the brian for writing what might seem like silliness. I do not often defend the prequels, but here i have to. Frank sold us:

a man fusing with a worm to become a worm/man hybrid,
little pug-nosed grey skinned aliens
who genetically engineer dogs for chairs.
Trees which grow into homes according to the whim of the owner.
women being made into tanks to clone humans.
etc etc

The point is, they were well executed. I've almost no doubt that, even if Frank had been forced to follow P+tB's outline..... he would still have managed to weave together a far superior novel to what this pair concocted. It's all about ability here.


I also think that, though much of his ideas were HIGHLY original, its ineviteable. I think it was said that the last truly original work of humanity was Flatland, by Edwin. A Abbott (Fantastic book, read it).

Paul fits many of the cliche' hero templates in Dune. I saw a web-page once where the 60 most common traits of heroes in novels were listed. Things like "Related to the bad guy" "only child" "orphaned/adopted/cast out when young" "special powers evident from an early age which sets him apart from other boys" "sacrifice made to protect him" etc. Paul came close to the top, along with many other epic heroes.

Of course, by DM this turns on its head and becomes a great argument for originality. But I definately stand by my first point:

Whether or not something feels silly is all about the execution
The HLP hasnt released Frank's notes yet, Brian hasn't got the handwriting quite right!

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Postby A Thing of Eternity » 02 Jul 2008 14:14

Nekhrun wrote:
Lundse wrote:I am getting a bit miffed about the lack of responses. Far be it from me to suggest the absence of counterarguments proves the claim. BUT, it does suggest something when the official forum where supporters gather is not responding at all..

Don't expect any either. In about a week or so after soliciting responses arnoldo will post some fuckwit comment or snide remark effectively ending discussion on the matter. This has happened to me many times. Go over there and post a tumbleweed or something, that'll get them going. Byron will probably start with some vague response with no evidence to back up his opinion.


I usually have to add at least one post complaining about the lack of responses before anyone will get involved. Sometimes it takes a couple posts...

Arnoldo has been suprisingly lucid lately, he's actually proven me wrong (or at least "less right") in a few minor arguments :oops: Me and Freak even posted complimenting Arny for staying on topic but Byron deleted our compliments. :?
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Postby Hunchback Jack » 02 Jul 2008 14:30

loremaster wrote:But I definately stand by my first point:

Whether or not something feels silly is all about the execution


I agree with you, but I think that original post was making this point as well.

The problem with the gholas was not that they all came back, but that they all came back and did nothing. Or worse, they somehow acquired some of the traits, opinions and abilities of their originals without regaining their memories, but sat around waiting to when they would "become themselves". They were just standing around like extras on a stage wondering when they'd get to say their lines.

The ineptitude with which they were used made the idea of bringing them back silly.

HBJ

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Postby Lundse » 02 Jul 2008 14:31

loremaster wrote:I dont think you can fail pinky and the brian for writing what might seem like silliness. I do not often defend the prequels, but here i have to. Frank sold us:

a man fusing with a worm to become a worm/man hybrid,
little pug-nosed grey skinned aliens
who genetically engineer dogs for chairs.
Trees which grow into homes according to the whim of the owner.
women being made into tanks to clone humans.
etc etc

The point is, they were well executed. I've almost no doubt that, even if Frank had been forced to follow P+tB's outline..... he would still have managed to weave together a far superior novel to what this pair concocted. It's all about ability here.


I also think that, though much of his ideas were HIGHLY original, its ineviteable. I think it was said that the last truly original work of humanity was Flatland, by Edwin. A Abbott (Fantastic book, read it).

Paul fits many of the cliche' hero templates in Dune. I saw a web-page once where the 60 most common traits of heroes in novels were listed. Things like "Related to the bad guy" "only child" "orphaned/adopted/cast out when young" "special powers evident from an early age which sets him apart from other boys" "sacrifice made to protect him" etc. Paul came close to the top, along with many other epic heroes.

Of course, by DM this turns on its head and becomes a great argument for originality. But I definately stand by my first point:

Whether or not something feels silly is all about the execution


Hm... maybe silliness is not the right word. The real problem was that these things (K&B's) are nothing but re-hashing stuff for no other reason than doing just that. Maybe throwing in an extra explosion of making spice extra spicy...

Except for the trees mentioned above, all of FH's 'weirdness' DID something within the stories. Even chairdogs said something about complacancy and willingness to subvert nature for the slightest of extra comforts!

K&B's stuff is, in essence, the Epic Movie of Dune. Not scenes with a laugh track or fart joke, but characters, artifacts and background with melodrama and 'more cowbell'.

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Postby Nekhrun » 02 Jul 2008 14:41

loremaster wrote:I dont think you can fail pinky and the brian for writing what might seem like silliness. I do not often defend the prequels, but here i have to. Frank sold us:

a man fusing with a worm to become a worm/man hybrid,
little pug-nosed grey skinned aliens
who genetically engineer dogs for chairs.
Trees which grow into homes according to the whim of the owner.
women being made into tanks to clone humans.
etc etc

The point is, they were well executed. I've almost no doubt that, even if Frank had been forced to follow P+tB's outline..... he would still have managed to weave together a far superior novel to what this pair concocted. It's all about ability here.


I also think that, though much of his ideas were HIGHLY original, its ineviteable. I think it was said that the last truly original work of humanity was Flatland, by Edwin. A Abbott (Fantastic book, read it).

Paul fits many of the cliche' hero templates in Dune. I saw a web-page once where the 60 most common traits of heroes in novels were listed. Things like "Related to the bad guy" "only child" "orphaned/adopted/cast out when young" "special powers evident from an early age which sets him apart from other boys" "sacrifice made to protect him" etc. Paul came close to the top, along with many other epic heroes.

Of course, by DM this turns on its head and becomes a great argument for originality. But I definately stand by my first point:

Whether or not something feels silly is all about the execution
I don't think it's fair to characterize FH's novels this way. The silliness as you put it, is a vehicle for something more important he wanted to tell us, which was anything but silly.

It's true that in Dune Paul fits the Hero Model exactly, the warning about that was what came next. Paul later did everything he could to destroy his image as a hero.

FH's Dune novels are full of metaphor and lessons on the topics of ecology, politics, religion, etc. The new books have nothing of the sort and completely mischaracterize what FH wrote as you did with your summary of what was in his books.

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Postby A Thing of Eternity » 02 Jul 2008 14:42

'more cowbell'


Hehe. I like that. New Dune has more cowbell. :D
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Postby Nekhrun » 02 Jul 2008 15:00

A Thing of Eternity wrote:
'more cowbell'


Hehe. I like that. New Dune has more cowbell. :D

Or not enough depending on your love of cowbell.

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Postby loremaster » 02 Jul 2008 15:04

Nekhrun wrote:
loremaster wrote:I dont think you can fail pinky and the brian for writing what might seem like silliness. I do not often defend the prequels, but here i have to. Frank sold us:

a man fusing with a worm to become a worm/man hybrid,
little pug-nosed grey skinned aliens
who genetically engineer dogs for chairs.
Trees which grow into homes according to the whim of the owner.
women being made into tanks to clone humans.
etc etc

The point is, they were well executed. I've almost no doubt that, even if Frank had been forced to follow P+tB's outline..... he would still have managed to weave together a far superior novel to what this pair concocted. It's all about ability here.


I also think that, though much of his ideas were HIGHLY original, its ineviteable. I think it was said that the last truly original work of humanity was Flatland, by Edwin. A Abbott (Fantastic book, read it).

Paul fits many of the cliche' hero templates in Dune. I saw a web-page once where the 60 most common traits of heroes in novels were listed. Things like "Related to the bad guy" "only child" "orphaned/adopted/cast out when young" "special powers evident from an early age which sets him apart from other boys" "sacrifice made to protect him" etc. Paul came close to the top, along with many other epic heroes.

Of course, by DM this turns on its head and becomes a great argument for originality. But I definately stand by my first point:

Whether or not something feels silly is all about the execution
I don't think it's fair to characterize FH's novels this way. The silliness as you put it, is a vehicle for something more important he wanted to tell us, which was anything but silly.

It's true that in Dune Paul fits the Hero Model exactly, the warning about that was what came next. Paul later did everything he could to destroy his image as a hero.

FH's Dune novels are full of metaphor and lessons on the topics of ecology, politics, religion, etc. The new books have nothing of the sort and completely mischaracterize what FH wrote as you did with your summary of what was in his books.


I dont think what you just wrote is fair at all: at no point did i make any summary of what Frank wrote in his books. I didnt say his books were full of silliness. I merely gave examples of what i thought were "silly" concepts, which were well executed within the books - Exactly like Lundse said (and yourself), they spoke about the complacency of society, or told us more about subversion of old values etc. Perhaps i should say more than just execution and put "position and relevance" of silliness.
You cannot deny that without GOOD justification (trying to create a disgusting image for revulsion in order to misdirect) the tleilaxu were a "tacky" concept reminiscent of nosferatu and cheap-budget b movies. (Duncan even comments on how comic they look when he disguises as one)- they arent original either.

Do i think the prequels contain lessons and metaphors about ecology, politics, religion etc? No. Dont pin that one on me.

But do i think Frank had some "silly" concepts which he executed well? Yes.

And they werent JUST plot devices, the tleilaxu and masters could have taken any number of routes to distinguish them from "ordinary" humans. Frank chose little grey critters for preference, and had to justify it within the story. Which he did. Pinky and the brian havent.

Like i say, execution.
The HLP hasnt released Frank's notes yet, Brian hasn't got the handwriting quite right!

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Nekhrun
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Postby Nekhrun » 02 Jul 2008 15:09

loremaster wrote:
Nekhrun wrote:
loremaster wrote:I dont think you can fail pinky and the brian for writing what might seem like silliness. I do not often defend the prequels, but here i have to. Frank sold us:

a man fusing with a worm to become a worm/man hybrid,
little pug-nosed grey skinned aliens
who genetically engineer dogs for chairs.
Trees which grow into homes according to the whim of the owner.
women being made into tanks to clone humans.
etc etc

The point is, they were well executed. I've almost no doubt that, even if Frank had been forced to follow P+tB's outline..... he would still have managed to weave together a far superior novel to what this pair concocted. It's all about ability here.


I also think that, though much of his ideas were HIGHLY original, its ineviteable. I think it was said that the last truly original work of humanity was Flatland, by Edwin. A Abbott (Fantastic book, read it).

Paul fits many of the cliche' hero templates in Dune. I saw a web-page once where the 60 most common traits of heroes in novels were listed. Things like "Related to the bad guy" "only child" "orphaned/adopted/cast out when young" "special powers evident from an early age which sets him apart from other boys" "sacrifice made to protect him" etc. Paul came close to the top, along with many other epic heroes.

Of course, by DM this turns on its head and becomes a great argument for originality. But I definately stand by my first point:

Whether or not something feels silly is all about the execution
I don't think it's fair to characterize FH's novels this way. The silliness as you put it, is a vehicle for something more important he wanted to tell us, which was anything but silly.

It's true that in Dune Paul fits the Hero Model exactly, the warning about that was what came next. Paul later did everything he could to destroy his image as a hero.

FH's Dune novels are full of metaphor and lessons on the topics of ecology, politics, religion, etc. The new books have nothing of the sort and completely mischaracterize what FH wrote as you did with your summary of what was in his books.


I dont think what you just wrote is fair at all: at no point did i make any summary of what Frank wrote in his books. I didnt say his books were full of silliness. I merely gave examples of what i thought were "silly" concepts, which were well executed within the books - Exactly like Lundse said (and yourself), they spoke about the complacency of society, or told us more about subversion of old values etc. Perhaps i should say more than just execution and put "position and relevance" of silliness.
You cannot deny that without GOOD justification (trying to create a disgusting image for revulsion in order to misdirect) the tleilaxu were a "tacky" concept reminiscent of nosferatu and cheap-budget b movies. (Duncan even comments on how comic they look when he disguises as one)- they arent original either.

Do i think the prequels contain lessons and metaphors about ecology, politics, religion etc? No. Dont pin that one on me.

But do i think Frank had some "silly" concepts which he executed well? Yes.

And they werent JUST plot devices, the tleilaxu and masters could have taken any number of routes to distinguish them from "ordinary" humans. Frank chose little grey critters for preference, and had to justify it within the story. Which he did. Pinky and the brian havent.

Like i say, execution.

In my reading of your original post, you make it seem like Frank had all these little odd things he wanted to write about and found an intelligent way to "execute" them. I see it as the other way around. He had something he wanted to say and found a way to make it entertaining and not preachy. It's probably a small distinction that's not really worth arguing about, or I'm just missing your point.

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Postby loremaster » 02 Jul 2008 15:20

Nekhrun wrote:
loremaster wrote:
Nekhrun wrote:
loremaster wrote:

*snip*


*snip*


*snip*

In my reading of your original post, you make it seem like Frank had all these little odd things he wanted to write about and found an intelligent way to "execute" them. I see it as the other way around. He had something he wanted to say and found a way to make it entertaining and not preachy. It's probably a small distinction that's not really worth arguing about, or I'm just missing your point.


I think that is what i mean, yes. If you dont think that way then i think we have to agree to disagree (though i do see your point). I dont think Leto being sandwormified was there to be entertaining, and i personally think that the "idea" is a bit tacky. (Especially with a biochemistry degree i get as wound up about some of Frank's Biology, genetics etc almost as much as P+tB's)
The HLP hasnt released Frank's notes yet, Brian hasn't got the handwriting quite right!

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Postby Phaedrus » 02 Jul 2008 19:34

I wouldn't say Frank Herbert's ideas are "silly."

Except maybe for Miles "Superspeed" Teg, I'd say most of the ideas are interesting and fit in really well in the universe.

You also have to remember that two hundred years ago, people would have thought that having a conversation through computers with other people online about a book is pretty damn silly. But we take it for granted. I don't think it's silly at all to assume that there are going to be some really weird inventions sometime in the future.

There's weird, and there's silly. Chairdogs, Tleilaxu Masters, and Leto's transformation are weird. The independent inventions of no-tech and artificial spice(did they invent an Ixian Navigation Machine in the prequels, too?) without anyone knowing and without anyone being able to replicate the same inventions for 3,000 years is silly. The depiction of the Butlerian Jihad as a war between incredibly stupid machines and(amazingly!) dumber humans is silly. The notions of science in Kevin J. Anderson's head are silly. The notions of what it means to be a good writer in the heads of the entire HLP are silly. There's a difference between the two.
Last edited by Phaedrus on 02 Jul 2008 19:53, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby SandChigger » 02 Jul 2008 19:43

:lol:
"Let the dead give water to the dead. As for me, it's NO MORE FUCKING TEARS!"

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Nekhrun
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Postby Nekhrun » 02 Jul 2008 22:52

loremaster wrote:
Nekhrun wrote:
loremaster wrote:
Nekhrun wrote:
loremaster wrote:

*snip*


*snip*


*snip*

In my reading of your original post, you make it seem like Frank had all these little odd things he wanted to write about and found an intelligent way to "execute" them. I see it as the other way around. He had something he wanted to say and found a way to make it entertaining and not preachy. It's probably a small distinction that's not really worth arguing about, or I'm just missing your point.


I think that is what i mean, yes. If you dont think that way then i think we have to agree to disagree (though i do see your point). I dont think Leto being sandwormified was there to be entertaining, and i personally think that the "idea" is a bit tacky. (Especially with a biochemistry degree i get as wound up about some of Frank's Biology, genetics etc almost as much as P+tB's)

The Leto transformation is a tough one to get around, but the need for a long-term thinker was necessary to teach the BG a lesson. I don't focus nearly as much on the scientific realities that others do.

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Postby Lundse » 03 Jul 2008 06:58

Here's a quick way to see it. Imagine you are telling your professor at university, your highly educated uncle or the intellectual babe at the bar (m/f) about the book you are reading (or anyone but a hormonally challenged 'tween, really).

Regarding the originals, you can either:

1 - 'And then there's this guy who lets these worm-trout-sand-thingies on him and becomes superstrong and takes over the empire and then HE becomes one of these REAL worms and he...', or; '...and they mutate these dogs into chairs which are, like, semi-alive and...', or; '...and then they RIDE THE WORMS man...'

2 - 'Herbert recasts the hero-myth as inherently undesirable and outright dangerous, in both political and religious terms, by merging the two. He eventually flips it upside down by making a despotic and monstrous tyrant be the 'actual hero' by freeing humanity from needing heroes', or; '...even the furniture in this universe becomes a metaphor for the dangers of complacency...', or; '...these fremen's symbiosis with and respect for their environment is underlined by the fact that they RIDE THE WORMS man...'


Only the first is really possible with the K&B books...

Now, I get why this is attractive too.... When I read the originals around the age of 13-15, I thought the 'first tier stuff' was really cool, also in its own right (but mostly because I sensed something more going on underneath - what I would later term 'literature' and/or 'political/sociological/philosophical thoughts'). The worm-ride scene or Chani's death still never fails to get to me at a jugular, immediate level (try listening to Who Wants to Live Forever while reading the latter part, or where Leto and Ghanima let them surface in the desert).


Dune's triumph is that it is a very cool, melodramatic space opera with a believable universe and ditto characters, and at the same time it is great literature and 'philosophy'.

K&B's failure is that they are strip mining the respect surrounding the originals for 'credibility' in order to make pulp books about action scenes and hyper-extra-reversed-evil-double-[insert cool stuff from original here].
This makes them failures as writers, and as decent human beings, IMHO.