Monday, January 26, 2009

More Dune

We have an ongoing discussion of Dune over here, but thinking about the book last night, I thought that three elements could be identified as essential to its success. The book has lots of ideas. It also has a richly developed background and history. Finally, it has an excellent plot. My question is, could the book have been as good without one of these elements or put another way, is one particularly important to the success of the book?


Harris said...

I think that they are too intertwined such that, if one failed, all would fail. I don't know that you could have the plot without the BG background etc. I don't know that you could have the background without the new concept.

Y'know, I haven't read the other books - I assume there are prequels? - and maybe it's because I'm scared of the Star Wars syndrome. Think about it - how much better the "history" was when recounted by Vader and Kenobi, vs when we actually saw it unfolding. There is a certain skill and magic in being able to RECOUNT the history - arguably more important than the history itself. Note that Herbert didn't simply use flashbacks - the magic was in the retelling and the believability of retelling as retelling. This leads me back to my original point - it's all wrapped together.

Neill said...

It's hard for me to separate any single element from it. all of those elements are missing from the Brian Herbert pre/sequels

Tripp said...

Are you saying that none is more important than the other, or that they reinforce and enrich one another?

Regarding the "other" books, these fall into two groups, the ones that Herbert wrote and the ones his son co-wrote (with ?Kevin Anderson?). The original books are sequels and go thousands of years into the future, the son's books are prequels.

Tripp said...


My thought is that they overemphasize the plot in the prequels by trying to fill in the history. Rather than having a backstory of their own, they are filling in the corners of something greater.


Neill said...

Agreed. All done really ham-handedly.
I think it is clear that before the Wachowski brothers did the Matrix and then started getting into S&M and contemplating sexual reassignment they were reading Dune and rereading and then reading it again.
I had never made the connection before last night that Neo is their Paul M'uadib.

Tripp said...

Oh the Matrix, so sad. Yes he is the M'uadib, but maybe less prone to wrecking plans?

The Matrix went sour a lot faster than the Dune books. At least a few of the follow ons are worth reading.

Harris, regarding the recount of history, I think you are on to something. The hints and allusions allow for more imagination which is a big bonus.