Thursday, July 13, 2006

Dune Prequels by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

The Dune prequels consist of two trilogies- 'Prelude to Dune' and 'Legends of Dune'. The books in the 'Prelude to Dune' trilogy are 'House Atreides', 'House Harkonnen', and 'House Corrino'. The books in the 'Legends of Dune' trilogy are 'The Butlerian Jihad', 'Machine Crusades', and 'The Battle of Corrin'. I just got around to finishing the set of prequels by reading the last installment (Battle of Corrin). I consider the original 'Dune' canon by Frank Herbert (Dune, Dune: Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and Chapterhouse Dune) to be the best science fiction books ever. The Dune prequels don't read like classics- they read more like depictions of chronological events. Herbert's 'Dune' incorporated elements of philosophy, religion, sociology, and the art-of-war with surreal grace and elegance. The prequels feel stale and flat compared to the original canon. I'm not faulting Brian Herbert and KJA, so much as lamenting the fact that the late Herbert Sr. could not have written the prequels and finished the series himself. Being an avid 'Dune' fan, I soaked up every page of the prequels despite the fact that I recognized early on that they did not evoke the same intimacy with the 'Dune' universe. It is a testament to the allure of the worlds Herbert Sr. created that reading just the outlines of any addition to his 'Dune' universe is more enjoyable than most other sci-fi books out there. That is really how I viewed the prequels- outlines. The prequels read more like outlines with filler than a finished product when compared to the 'Dune' canon. The main element of the prequels that I enjoyed was that BH and KJA were filling in the gaps to the original story. It now gives more meaning to the 'Dune' passages about the 'Dune' societies' abhorrence for computers i.e. 'thinking machines', or any likeness thereof. The prequels succeeded in feeding the addiction that many fans (myself included) have for the 'Dune' universe. Where they failed is in their lack of character development. The prequels don't evoke nearly enough empathy and emotion for the characters that the canon does. Of all of the prequels, the only characters that had a similar appeal to the 'Dune' characters were Serena Butler and Erasmus. I especially liked Erasmus. He is the 'Dune' equivolent to Star Trek's DATA- only diabolical, sinister, cruel, and downright evil. I liked some of the other characters, but didn't love them. Some of the characters I liked were 'Selim Wormrider', Vorian Atreides, and Norma Cenva. Unfortunately, BH and KJA just don't give these characters the flare they deserve. In conclusion- I liked the prequels, but when it comes to 'Dune', liking just isn't good enough. The standard is too high; BH and KJA didn't live up to the 'Dune' standards in the prequels, and I doubt they will in Dune 7 (Hunters of Dune, August 22, 2006). That being said, I love 'Dune' so much I'll still be at Barnes and Nobles bright and early August 22 to get my 'Dune' fix.


Blogger mal said...

Chris- I am very impressed by your dogs literacy! Reading and commenting on the Dune series. (and intelligently yet!)

I read Dune when I was a teen. Picked it up and put it down several times. (the Baron really put me off) I finally picked it up when I was a freshman and found myself engrossed in the interweaving tale and trying to understand it all. I have read several times since and still find things I previously missed.

The sequels for me never measured up. I am not sure why either.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by and I appreciated your comments


7:56 PM  

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