Dune Messiah

Dune MessiahYesterday, I finished Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert, the second book in the Dune series. Dune Messiah takes place 12 years after the events in Dune, with Paul Atreides (“Muad’dib”) ruling as Emperor. It centers around conspiracies against Paul as well as Paul’s need to produce an heir.

Although I loved Dune, I found it hard to get excited about Dune Messiah. Most of the book was just okay, though the ending was interesting. I’ve heard that it’s worth reading through at least the fourth book, God Emperor of Dune, though, so I’m sure I’ll keep reading. 🙂

Dune

The Book

Last week, I finished Dune by Frank Herbert, which was #2 on my book list. After hearing so many people proclaim it as one of their favorite books, I was really excited to read it. After my letdown with Neuromancer, though, I was a little skeptical. I’m very happy to say that Dune did not disappoint. I loved it. 🙂

DuneDune is set thousands of years in the future, during a time of interstellar travel and feuding houses. It tells the story of Paul Atreides, who is heir of House Atreides. Following the Emperor’s orders, Paul and his family are sent to control the desert planet Arrakis, which is the only source of the “spice” melange (a super valuable drug that improves mental abilities and prolongs life). Arrakis had been under the control of the Harkonnens (a long-time rival of the Atreides), however, so the transfer in power only increases the tension and hostility between the two houses.

Some people have said that Dune was a slow and difficult to get into. I felt immersed right away, though I would agree that the book really picks up toward toward the end. Others complained about the made-up words, but those words were usually given definitions and/or enough context to figure out what the words meant. Besides, there was a handy glossary in the back for looking things up. 

Dune is often referred to as science-fiction’s answer to The Lord of the Rings. I haven’t read LotR yet (*gasp!*), but I can see why people probably say that. Dune is the first book in an epic saga that has amazing world-building and intriguing characters.

For people who like fantasy, I think Dune would be a great sci-fi book choice. I felt like the science and technology really took a backseat to the main story. Dune wasn’t overly technical or futuristic, which has helped keep it stay relevant in the nearly 50 years since it was published. There’s more to the book than just sci-fi, too; there are political, environmental, and religious themes.

The Movie

The movie version of Dune, on the other hand, was terrible. There were so many things wrong with it, but I’ll just mention some of the ones that really stood out to me.

Warning: Spoilers below!

Dune Guild Navigator
Dune Guild Navigator

First, what the heck was up with the Guild navigators? They weren’t ever encountered in the book and I don’t remember there being much of a physical description (although I’m sure there will be in the later books), but I certainly didn’t expect a bizarre giant slug-like creature.

While Baron Harkonnen is supposed to be obese, they made him absolutely ridiculous in the movie. He was grotesque and filthy, with disgusting pustules all over his face. His character was insane and unstable and not at all the clever, plotting antagonist I expected. They also added the concept of “heart plugs” to the movie, which allowed the Baron to kill his servants at will. And what on earth was with making Thufir Hawat milk a cat to get an antidote for the poison he’s not supposed to know about? Omfg.

Jamis was removed entirely from the movie, along with Paul’s son, and I think even Count Fenring. I can see them leaving out Paul’s son, but not including the fight with Jamis seemed like a misstep to me.

Shields in Dune
Shields in Dune. There’s a person under there somewhere.

I know that Dune (the movie) was made in the 80’s, but the shields were just plain awful. The inner monologues were done poorly, too.

The fighting in the movie was completely off. They made up some voice-activated “weirding modules” that Paul taught the Fremen how to use. The Fremen didn’t need any weapons like that in the book; they were fierce, bad-ass fighters all by themselves. They certainly weren’t the weak, impressionable people the movie made them out to be.

Perhaps my biggest complaint about the movie was the ending. Paul certainly didn’t have the power to alter the weather and make it rain in the book. And even if he did, he would never do it because that would kill the sandworms and screw up everything on Arrakis. Wtf.

Overall, the movie really lacked the depth that existed in the book and it seemed to make a mockery of it. It glossed over important parts of the book and didn’t offer any explanations for crucial parts of the story. I doubt I would’ve wanted to read the book after seeing the movie.

Ender’s Game

Ender's GameI’m always looking for books to read. I usually find books based on recommendations from friends and family or online sources like /r/books. Over the last few weeks, I’ve put together a spreadsheet (have I mentioned I love spreadsheets?) that’s a compilation of half a dozen “Top 100” book lists I found. My favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy, so a few of the lists are heavily sci-fi/fantasy based. I then came up with an equation that rates books based on their rankings in the list, with the most liked books at the top. My long list of books will definitely keep me busy for a while. 🙂

Ender’s Game was #3 in my list (behind The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the Dune series, which I’ll read soon) and it’s one that always seems to show up in discussions of favorite books. I decided to read it, knowing nothing about it other than the fact that it’s a well-loved sci-fi book.

Ender's Game (Movie)
Still from the Ender’s Game movie

Ender’s Game is set in a futuristic Earth and is about a young boy named Ender, born a third child in spite of Earth’s two-child policy. Earth had been attacked twice by an insect-like alien race dubbed the “buggers.” Fearing a third invasion, the International Fleet (IF) seeks a strong commander and strategist. In hopes that Ender might be the leader they were looking for, they send Ender to Battle School for training. In spite of his age and size, Ender does well in school and exceeds expectations, overcoming all obstacles thrown at him… but is Ender capable of protecting Earth from the buggers?

While I enjoyed Ender’s Game and thought it was worth reading, I wasn’t blown away by it quite like I was expecting. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to reading Speaker of the Dead, sequel to Ender’s Game.

Also worth noting, the Ender’s Game movie is due to be released November 1, 2013. It’s always interesting to see Hollywood’s take on the books I’ve read.