Monday, September 8, 2008

Dune: the Jacqui's Room Notes

In which I make my neighbors wonder what the heck is going on in my sandbox.

At some point, I will draw an intelligent and incisive parallel between the sowing of prophesies in Dune, the 2008 presidential election, and our work as writers. But for now, I bring you:

DUNE, by Frank Herbert*
Synopsisized in a conversation between the narrator and the son of Duke Leto of the Atreides, some photos, and one video clip.

Thousands of years into the future, humans have scattered across the galaxy, inhabiting every planet, even those that seem to present insurmountable environmental limitations. The planet Arrakis has never seen rain. Moisture is so precious that people wear suits carefully designed to recycle the body's own waste water into drinkable form and --

I'm sorry? My suit is going to do what to what? Oh. Huh. Go on.

Into drinkable form, and they carry the tools necessary to extract the 70% water left over in the weight of a dead man. In --

Okay, that is just nasty. Seriously, Dad, are we really going there? Okay, okay.

Inhospitable to humans and patrolled by gigantic toothed worms that digest anything they can find, --

Hee hee. Giant worms. Oh crap! That thing just ate a plane! My bad.

Anything they can find, Arrakis should by all rights be uninhabited and unwanted. But it holds Spice. The highly --

Does that make those maidens the Spice Girls? If you wanna be my lover...

Do you mind?


The highly addictive cinnamon-like spice turns blue the eyes of the native Fremen of the planet and traps all who visit Arrakis in its spicy clutches.

That sentence made no sense.

I am a science fiction narrator; I don't have to make any sense. If you knew more about our world you'd get it already. Just nod knowingly; that's what everyone else in the book does.

(nods knowingly)

Many battle for control of Arrakis and the spice. But who will rule in the end?
The Emperor?

The Duke? The Baron?



The son of the Duke and the result of some mysterious inbreeding project lead by the Reverend Mother and her coven of mind-reading, butt-kicking mystics.

It will be me! I have drunk the bile of the giant worm and I see it now! I am the messiah, but this is science fiction, so I can't just say "messiah" I have to have difficult-to-pronounce, vaguely-Hebrew-sounding invented words for everything and put them all in a glossary at the back of the book. Anyhoot, I am the Kwisatz Haderach and I can see the past, present, future, the workings of blood cells, and inside your minds, all of you! Also, I can do a whole lot of other stuff you can't! Do you know the prophesy?

(nods knowingly)

I shall lead this planet to freedom with my princess wife-in-name-only (who will someday write my biography in clunky tongue and italicized chapter headings) and my beloved concubine.

It's him! It's him!

Come! Let us fulfill the destiny!

And that, my friends, concludes the 15 Classics in 15 Weeks Remedial Lit Summer Project. Full wrap up as soon as I can breathe tomorrow.

* I've gotten many strange looks from people wondering how I came up with Dune as my last classic for the summer. Here's how it went:

1. I asked people for help choosing the last classic.
2. Someone very wisely pointing out the total neglect of science fiction on my lists (and my literary history) and made a few suggestions.
3. I got to thinking about how annoyed I get when people are snotty about "children's lit" as a genre.
4. I decided I'd better check out some science fiction.
5. I carefully chose from amongst several options using a detailed algorithm designed to round-out my summer literary experience they only had Dune at my local indie bookstore the day I went.


Kristi Valiant said...

Well, I've never read Dune, but you make it sound so ummm... different.... than any other book I've read. I'm not sure if I'm quite up for that one.

I couldn't choose just one book for my last of the fifteen, so I went for extra credit and read two.

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks:
A little mischief
From a little Indian chief
Gains a boy wisdom

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson:
Fear the one-legged man
Who leads a mutinous crew
On your treasure hunt

I never did read Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, so I think I'll extend my classics reading period a bit and add that one.

Diane T said...

Hahahahahaha! That video is classic! Nyum yum yum!

But seriously, Jacqui, you should've asked me if you'd wanted recommendations for a classic Sci Fi novel that isn't hyped up gobbledygook. (I read the first Dune, but couldn't get through the sequels, which is saying something.) Fahrenheit 451 (or anything by Bradbury, he's a poet), Asimov's The Gods Themselves, Clarke's Childhood's End, something by Ursula LeGuin--any of those writers from the Golden Age would have been a better choice.

In fact, I will bring you a book next week, so you can see that sci fi can be thought-provoking without pretentious fakey names and messianic complexes.

Anonymous said...

It should be illegal to make me laugh that hard. I would have preserved my body moisture, but I think I just lost it.
Hope your cold is better.

Tabitha said...

You have the coolest collection of Little People known to man. :)

I read Dune long ago, so I thought this was hilarious and spot on. :) This was a book that I nearly threw against the wall when I finished. And I don't do that very often.

I second the recommendation for anything Bradbury. Much, much better than Dune. :)

Jacqui said...

Kristi, you rule. I love the haiku for The Indian in the Cupboard.

Diane, I thought of asking you, but truly, it was a game day what's here decision.

Sharon: ha!

Tabitha, glad to know it wasn't just me! And sadly, the Little People belong to my kids, who are going to be suspicious when they find them in the sand box...

Stephanie J. Blake said...

Dune? Um, I can't read books that advanced anymore. I can barely read YA. I friended you on Facebook.

C.R. Evers said...

LOL! Love the graphics. I had no idea you were so high-tech! ;0)

Congrats on getting through all 15! My hat's off to you! Wow!


Angela said...

The pictures added a lot to this critique.
Do you think it was 15 classics in 15 weeks or just reading DUNE that did you in?

Haven't read it....and after reading this, I'm not rushing out to buy it eaither!