It was the summer of 2002, just before I was to go on a very important trip. I was working in an art gallery – selling paintings, decorating fancy masquerade masks… I just finished reading some book, I don’t remember which one, and I decided to go to the local library and see if something catches my eye.
I went past the Croatian books section and the crime and thriller novels, and I came across the SF shelf – and there I saw it! The single word. Four simple letters D I N A (Croatian word for Dune). A couple of weeks before that fateful day I had watched the miniseries Dune, and years before that I watched the movie. (remember the movie? Who could forget the movie! Kyle MacLachlan, Sting, Patrick Stewart, Max von Sydow)
My hand reached for the book and I read the blurb on the back cover just to be sure I had the right thing. I checked out the book and in the next couple of days I finished it.
And I was in love.
Dune was my first SF, and what a choice! The story is amazing. Since then, I don’t think I’ve ran into anything that comes even close to Frank Herbert‘s universe (except of course for Tolkien). He thought of everything and gave us a universe full of life, love, hate, conflict, compassion, faith, magic, technology…. And he did all that through amazing writing filled with thought-provoking quotes, characters that you identified with and those who you feared for they had some of your most secret qualities… The pursuit of technology and the fear of it… the constant struggle for power and resources… the mixing of politics and religion to the detriment of both sides… the destruction of the environment… the destruction of humanity… all of this and so much more
“It is impossible to live in the past, difficult to live in the present and a waste to live in the future.”
“The mind commands the body and it obeys. The mind orders itself and meets resistance.”
“What do you despise? By this are you truly known.”
“How often it is that the angry man rages denial of what his inner self is telling him.”
Herbert, of course continued the story in his following books, but I was limited by what my library had available so I continued my journey through the Duneverse by reading the “Houses” and again, I was hooked. I know, I know… some of you purists out there will say that they are not as good, or as deep, or as well thought out as the original books, but I was a kid, and they are LOADS OF FUN! I read through the three books but then I had to make a pause. I read other things, I found other universes, but there was always that soft whisper of the winds of Arrakis in the back of my head.
Since then, I’ve read a book every two years or so, pacing myself. I’ve also re-read the Dune, and it is still just as good as the first time and just as addictive as melange.
Now, returning to the present – yesterday I finished The Sisterhood of Dune and I am a bit divided on it. The story is a lot of fun, but the writing! Oh, god. It was written by Herbert and Anderson like other prequels, and I have a feeling that the two of them did not talk to each other while they were writing the book. They definitely did not read each other’s stuff, I’m sure of that. There is so much repetition that at times I felt like blacking out some of the sentences that if someone borrows the book from me doesn’t need to read the same thoughts and the same sentences more than once! I mean, if in one part you say that this happened like this, you don’t need to re-tell it from another POV 7 pages later in the same words! Just get on with the story!
The plot it self is interesting – it talks of the time after the war against the machines and the time of the development of the human society after the tyranny of the machines. It focuses on the birth of the Bene Gesserit school – so that is fun.
Despite all this, and like any other addict, even this pale shadow of the original story kept me hooked. It allowed me a few more weeks in the Duneverse, it gave me a history and back story of some of the things that were left unexplained in the original books. It transported me back to Arrakis, and no matter how clumsy the vehicle was I was happy to be back.
I’ll leave you with this
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
P.S. the Children of Dune miniseries was where I first saw James McAvoy winkwinknudgenudge