Dune has spawned an ungodsly number of sequels and prequels, but I liked the original a lot, so I’m trying to make it through as much of the series as I can stand. Thus far I’ve trundled through the next two. The extended Dune edition of The Hugo Project continues…
Children of Dune
published in 1969 and 1976
So, the story of House Atreides’s shenanigans on Arrakis continues. Hooray?
…I have mixed feeling about all of this nonsense. On the one hand, there is still a lot of depth to the stories, and still a lot of ideas and plot unfolding. On the other hand…it’s getting harder and harder to care. Dune Messiah at least had the benefit of being shorter than the original – which, technically, Children of Dune is as well, though not by a whole lot.
The fact that each book jumps roughly a decade ahead in time doesn’t help much, either – the beautifully detailed world that Herbert created for us in Dune keeps changing, which is rather the point of the books, but it feels like as soon as the reader might have the slightest beginnings of a general grasp of the social and physical structure of the Dune-verse, everything changes again.
Look, I’m just going to come out and say it: I can’t follow these books. I can’t do it. I can’t figure who’s on whose side and who thinks who is on whose side and who is plotting what in collusion with whom anymore. It doesn’t help that everybody in the books is trying to manipulate everybody else and knows they’re being manipulated by everyone else except nobody’s sure whose manipulations of whom are successful and/or recognized and/or accepted by the person being manipulated and Sweet Mother of the Eternal Flaming Hedgehog, somebody stop this paragraph before it makes my brain hurt even more than it already does.
Am I just incredibly stupid? Does my brain just operate at right angles to Herbert’s? Is there somebody out there who is actually able to follow all of these ridiculous plots within plans within schemes all wrapped in bullshit prophecy mysticism?
If you haven’t watched the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, the above image makes no sense to you. Also, you are full of fail. To remedy this situation, click on the picture and WATCH THEM ALREADY THEY ARE AMAZEBALLS.
Back to the books.
Since a larger-than-entirely-healthy portion of my self-identity is comprised of my intelligence, I’m going to move forward on the assumption that I am not incredibly stupid and that what we have here is, in fact, a case of WHITE MALE BRILLIANCE wrapped in layers of fog and glitter and PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN except I’m pretty sure even Herbert had lost track of the number of curtains by this point.
I am so over WHITE MALE BRILLIANCE, both that of Herbert and of his protagonists. By the end of Dune Messiah, I was so done with Paul and his tragic manpain of prophecy. By page 150 of Children of Dune, I was so done with Leto II and his tragic manpain of prophecy and not telling Ghanima anything.
And I hate, hate, hate the central thesis emerging in these books. Because apparently the only people who know what humanity truly needs are Leto and Paul (WHITE MALES of BRILLIANCE) and so now Leto has to be a horrible despot for millennia so that people realize how good they had it under Paul’s jihad and then magically humanity realizes its ultimate destiny or some shit?
Yes, white men making the tough, manpain-inducing decision to be mean to people for their own good. That sounds like a brilliant plan and is no way cliched or offensively patronizing and rage-inducing.
Basically, my bullshit threshold was reached early in Children of Dune, and since WisCon has effectively destroyed my manpain tolerance, I am not in the mood for any of this.
…and yet, I’m still curious where this is going. Damnation. Apparently the next book takes place 3500 years in the future (STOP WITH THE TIME JUMPS ALREADY) so maybe after a break and some palate-cleansing YA fantasy I’ll be able to tackle this again.
And now I don’t even have the energy to talk about race/gender/sexuality/ability/etc in the books because I am SO DONE right now. Though I will say that Herbert is really great at creating fantastically strong females and then forgetting about them (Jessica), killing them (Chani), driving them insane (Alia), making them stupid and petty (Irulan), or ignoring them unless they’re advancing the plans of their brother (Ghanima). Why did Herbert bother creating her when she serves as a plot device for her brother and basically nothing else?
So. Incredibly. Done.
This calls for large quantities of ice cream. Join me next week as I watch the Sci Fi channel’s miniseries Frank Herbert’s Dune and Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune, and, depending on how things go, two weeks after that I may have some thoughts on God-Emperor of Dune and the ensuing sequels. Maybe.