Monday, July 18, 2011

Dune Group Read, Round 2

I finished reading the second "book" in Dune last night, so it's time for the Dune Group Read, Round 2 (hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings).  Little Red Reviewer was responsible for this set of questions.

Was Liet's identity a surprise?  Who do you think he really works for?
Completely!  I was shocked and pleased, as Kynes was a favorite character from the first book.  I was tremendously disappointed when he died, as I had hoped to know him better.  Of course, his death scene revealed a lot about him, for which I was glad, but I still felt a little cheated.  I think he worked for himself and his obsession of changing Arrakis.  

What do you think of the Fremen culture?  Is this a culture you think you'd enjoy spending some time with?
I think Herbert has done a fantastic job creating the Fremen culture.  It's one of the better parts of the book.  There appear to be so many layers to their mythology and customs; I'm hoping more layers will be peeled back as we go on.  I admire them greatly, but I'm too soft, too full of water if you will, to imagine myself actually a part (even a visitor) of the Fremen society.

What do you think of Count Fenring's unusual verbal mannerisms?  
I thought he used his humming sounds to look like the rabbit that  Feyd-Rautha took him to be.  That he was able to also use it as code to his wife was amusing.  It made for tough reading at times, though.

This is a far future empire with very little in the way of computerization. Information is often passed down orally, and schools (such as the Mentats and the Bene Gesserit) have formed to train young people in memorization and information processing.  What are you thoughts on a scifi story that is very "low-tech"?  Does that sound like a feasible future? a ridiculous one?
There are still vast high tech elements, enough so that the book still qualifies as sci fi.  As for the low tech, it's not unusual in sci fi or fantasy to mix the high tech with the low tech, and it's generally so as to create a culture of bards or druids, like the Bene Gesserit and Mentats.  So, I found it typical of what I've read before and not problematic at all.  Of course, I'm a steampunk as well, so it's a feature I particularly enjoy, this blending of tech levels. 

If you found the beginning of the book tough to get into, do you find that you're having an easier time with the middle portion, now that all the "set-up" is complete?
I loved the beginning, raced through it eagerly.  I admit to finding this middle section less compelling.  I've still enjoyed it tremendously, but it hasn't stayed continuously on my mind like the first section did.  Of all the elements in the book, I'm having a harder time swallowing Paul's sudden prescience than anything, and he's my least favorite character.  Terrible, I know, but there you have it.  So, since this entire section is mostly focused on him, I'm a little less enthralled.

The center portion of the book is still pretty dialog heavy, but what I've noticed is the subtlety of the dialog. Things left unsaid are often more important than things that are said.  What do you think of that as a stylistic choice? does it make the dialog more interesting? less interesting?
I honestly hadn't noticed the things left unsaid; I must not be reading it carefully enough.  I don't have a problem with the dialog--didn't notice it being dialog-heavy until I read someone's  (Little Red Reviewer's perhaps?) comments for the first round--so I must not be as sensitive to dialogue as most folks.  I did feel like Liet's death scene was a trifle strained with dialogue, but I was glad to get the info at the same time, so didn't mind it overmuch.

Dune was written in the 60's. Does it feel dated to you? How does it compare, writing style-wise, to more contemporary science fiction you've read?
No, it doesn't feel dated to me at all, but then I read a lot of Victorian lit, so I'd say a book would have to some pretty antiquated language for me to notice.  Not having a lot of tech gadgets described helps that timeless feel to it, as well.

 If you've never read this book before, where do you think the storyline is headed? 
Some sort of conflict between Paul and Feyd-Rautha, maybe, and something tragic to happen to Chani perhaps.  Complete inability of Paul and Jessica to see eye to eye, could happen.  But on the whole, I have no real feelings, I'm just enjoying the ride.


  1. I had a hard time with part I and liked part II much better.
    I found it strange that Kynes died so soon. I thought he would still be there at the end.
    The language didn't feel dated at all, I agree.

  2. It must be heaven having someone you can share books with! I am the only reader in my family and it can be pretty lonely.

    I don't like Paul either. Nobody likes a know-it-all and that's what he is. Okay, his knowledge is imperfect, but still.

  3. I really liked Kynes/Liet too, and would have liked to see more of him, but I guess then he would most likely have been an alternate voice for the Freman to follow.

    I'd still like to know more about his earlier life & work on the planet.

  4. I thought I had already left a comment here, but I'm not seeing it. So, let's try again!

    I was disappointed too when Kynes died. He was such a great character with the potential to be so involved with events as they played out. I did think his end was great as we learned so much about him, and his father before him, but I do miss having him around.

    I think the low-tech/hi-tech mix is a nice one. It helps differentiate the cultures/peoples in interesting ways: how they learn to adapt to their circumstances and resources. I certainly think the nomadic existence of the Fremen makes for an interesting contrast to the Harknonnen, but also to the other "civilized" cultures as well. Their ways probably seem barbaric to the more 'cultured' peoples, but I tend to find the political games and the ends justifying the means every bit as barbaric as a challenge to the death culture to deal with insults.

    I mentioned the first time I wrote this that I didn't see the part with Paul's prescience being that sudden. He was both bred and raised to be something different both mentally and physically as well as spiritually, and he had already begun having visions and glimpses of the future before he left Caladan--seeing Dune, the waters in the underground caverns, and even Chani. So having the spice heighten and accentuate those talents that he already possessed seemed to be only natural in the way the plot has developed.

    Just out of curiosity, what are your favorite works of Steampunk?

  5. "I thought he used his humming sounds to look like the rabbit that Feyd-Rautha took him to be."

    Bingo, baby. the beauty of a ruse, it never goes out of style! ;) and poor Baron, he gets so discombobulated!

  6. FINALLY getting back to seeing my comments here! (Turned in a 24 page literary analysis tonight; I've not let myself be swayed from that particular book and paper since the weekend. :P)

    Caroline: Isn't it fascinating how the same work of fiction can affect people differently? Nearly through with part three, I can say that the first part was definitely my favorite.

    Shaz: I am SO lucky! My husband and I began as friends, with many interests, long before we became romantic. We often discuss what we're reading or read the same thing. He started Dune this week, so I'm excited to discuss it with him too!

    I didn't make the connection,but it is a know-it-all attitude that I'm feeling about Paul. Also that, and how similar he is to Annakin which is not Herbert's fault of course.

    Fence: Ah! Yes, I hadn't thought about that. Liet had to die for Paul to be able to take a place of power. That just didn't occur to me! I do wonder if one of the prequels is about him; I plan to find out after reading this one.

    Carl: As usual, good insights on the Fremen and Harkonnen! And about Paul, I had truly had not made the connection between his dream and his prescience. That's the best thing about discussions like this; other people point out things I missed! Now it doesn't seem so sudden and forced to me!

    Favorite steampunk. Oh golly, that's a tough one. Probably Verne, the father of it all. I read him all through childhood and he and Wells affected my imagination greatly. For currently steampunk, it's the amazing alternative history Anno Dracula. It's just so amazing!

    LittleRedReviewer: Thanks! Glad I got it. :D I really do like that ruse, even though it's hard to read. I can see someone like Ian McKellan playing that part when I read it. :P