Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Dune, June '22 read-through thoughts

I first read Dune the summer of 7th grade, I believe. Checked out the big 1st edition hardback from the library. I'm certain that part of the read was in the wheat truck, waiting to unload the combine harvester. (I'm sure that my treatment of said book was detrimental to its collector's value. But if anyone out there has a used library copy with a bit of wheat chaff in the pages, you know where it's from...)

Since then, I've re-read the book a good handful of times, every few years or so. Because of the multiple themes lined out in the book, I tend to pick up something new each time, or at least read with a different emphasis or context.

I've also read into the series, but it took me multiple tries to surmount “God Emperor.” I finally pushed through the entire series in the late autumn of 2001 while on a road trip.

Talk about context.

Anyway... It's been a number of years since I've creased the cover, and I had a week away from home out visiting family on the Plains (site of the first read), and I decided to bring along a few books that were due for a re-read, Dune among them.

Although I haven't seen the current film iteration, I'm sure that my reading was colored by discussions of the film, as well as some recent commentaries on the book (esp. Matt Colville).

What did I pick up this time?

Well, it's a fast read for me. Partly due to familiarity, partly Herbert's writing style. The chapter length is good, and the flow of writing and plot tends to get me into that “one more chapter” mode, especially since I was reading this with the anticipation of particular upcoming plot moments.

I few other observations on this run-through...

Leto and his advisers are aware and angling to contact and enlist the Fremen almost immediately. They suspect the capabilities of the Fremen, especially with respect to their potential martial prowess. And although the team makes good in-roads, both Leto, and separately Jessica via manipulation of the Missionaria Protectiva framework planted within the religious consciousness of the people, they simply run out of time as the Emperor/Harkonnen collaboration intervenes.

A recollection of Paul's ongoing fears and resistance to becoming the Lisan Al-Gaib. He repeatedly uses the premonitions granted through his genetics and Spice addiction, seeing the majority of futures resulting in jihad, and fearing that – it seems he only attempts the Water of Life as an attempt to find a way to avoid this outcome. Either way, it seems that the prophecy is self-fulfilling, no matter Paul's machinations.

Paul's observation that Count Fenrig is one of the failed Kwisatz Haderach bred by the BG, and that Lady Fenrig intended to become impregnated by Feyd-Rautha as a fallback or means to salvage the breeding program interrupted by Jessica.

Speaking of Fenrig, I always recalled him speaking with a lot of Hmmms and Ahhhhs. But I noticed that Herbert wrote the interjections into many peoples' speech patterns as they hesitate or think before speaking. This probably stands out, also, due to my multiple reads of the “Doon” parody.

Leto's strength of leadership through empathy and personal connection. Late in the book, Gurney Halleck repeatedly points out to Paul that he has lost that empathy in comparison to his father, indicating the loss of humanity as Paul succumbs to the KH myth.

Seems like this whole messiah thing may not be all its cracked up to be. Perhaps time to revisit more of the series...

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