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Inkspot Fancy

Comics and fantasy and sci-fi, oh my!

Currently reading

The House on the Borderland
William Hope Hodgson
Dust and Light: A Sanctuary Novel
Carol Berg
The Dead
Jen Hickman, Robert James Maddox
Deadlands: Dead Man's Hand
David Gallaher, Jeff Mariotte, Jimmy Palmiotti
Ghost Hunt 2
Shiho Inada, Fuyumi Ono
Devil Survivor 1
Satoru Matsuba
Dune - Frank Herbert Dune has a lot of interesting concepts. There are a couple interesting individuals, but moreover, there are interesting ideas. The Fremen were to me one of the most fascinating parts of this book, a people whose culture is, as most are but few writers truly think about, shaped by their homes. And there are a lot of subtle (and not-so-subtle) notes about how a child is shaped. Paul as he appears at the end of the book is a man visibly shaped by his relationships with the adults around him growing up, and you can see some of them crystal clear and others more subtly, and most of all, his parents. In addition, there's a really wonderful message about Others, and cultures meeting. When Paul joined with the Fremen, he rarely tried to impose much of his ways on them, pretty much doing so only when the matter would weaken their collective goals. Others had talked about using the Fremen as a fighting force. Paul looks at them as a people, and shares their goals, and so it's him who can connect with them and take their planet back.The world is richly realized and detailed without labored explanations of everything. Its clear that this was a real turning point in Sci Fi, and I understand that much of what I enjoyed in some later science fiction stories owes quite a lot to this story. And yet, the ways in which I enjoy this as a crafted piece, as a collection of ideas and potential and careful thought, are at odds with my lack of enjoyment of this story AS a story. For me, Herbert uses a combination of small quotes from some in-world future work and an omniscient narrative voice that dips into every character to extremely negative effect. It wasn't until about the 2/3 point that something happened that even remotely surprised me. I knew most if not all character's motivations (this did ease up toward the end, thankfully) and knew more or less what was going to happen in the plot. At the same time, characters are all fairly one-note, with a few exceptions, filling roles and serving as mouthpieces for dialogue which is often so similar, I found little way to tell by the words whether they were said by an old wisewoman or a 15-year-old boy. The result is that I felt like more than half of the story is robbed of narrative tension by its very writing style, and characters with so little substance that it was hard to really fear for them in the impending bad things, removing any remaining tension.And then there's the story it's presuming to tell. Its not really an adventure - there's very little excitement to be had except for the last 60 pages and, if you managed not to be spoiled by the book itself, the betrayal early on. Its not a character piece - as mentioned before, the characters have a very samey quality to them, as though Herbert expended all his imagination on the world and the politics and all the other little details that make his world so rich. When it came time then to put characters into that complex framework, there was nothing left. Paul feels like a robot and his conversion into/acceptance of his role as the messianic figure on this planet felt staged like a high school play. His father reads more as a series of morality lessons than a person, his mother is interesting and complex but battered down by the narrative, his teachers have so little role as to be truly depressing (though they too get better in that last bit) and the bad guys are generally like something out of Captain Planet. Only the Fremen feel almost fully realized, but they're not enough to draw me in.Also, it's trying to be a complex political story. I know its unfair to judge it on that now, when we have writers like Sanderson and Martin and others on the scene, and maybe it was better before those types of stories became so common. The politics don't seem terribly complex to me, they seemed boring and flat, and the pride that some of our antagonists take in their machinations winds up feeling a little laughable because it all felt so obvious.As mentioned a few times, a lot of the problems did clear up in the last 60 or so pages. Characters began to act more like people I could relate to, there was real, honest and direct conflict, key thoughts of key people were not revealed ahead of time so we didn't know what they would do, the action really pitches up and all those small tweaks brought it together into something engaging and powerful. I'm really glad I read it and overall I can definitely see why so many people love it, but personally I don't think I'll read it again or read the followups unless someone whose opinion I trust recs some.