Friday, June 26, 2015

Fiction Friday - A Snark About Herbert's Dune Novels

If you haven't read Frank Herbert's original Dune trilogy, you should.  All kinds of commentary on human nature, big sweeping epic story, blah, blah. One of my favorite parts is that the characters are - literally - all geniuses, and they act like it. Lots of deep character interaction, but very few stupid mistakes like "Well, if only you had said what you meant, I wouldn't have jumped to the wrong conclusion." I hate stupid mistakes. When these people fuck things up, it's because they did it with purpose.

A core premise of the books is that Paul Atreides becomes god-leader of an army of mega-genius ninja women.

Alas, I always took the "man leading the powerful women" as the classic male fantasy of a harem of strong, powerful, smart, deadly, dutiful, pliant and obedient women.

I wanted to enjoy the simple juxtaposition and irony of a thousand generation breeding program getting flipped on its head at 999, and finally completely torqued at 1000 (and ultimately wrong, since Duncan Idaho is the real kwisatz haderach  like 25 000 years later still), but ... yeah.

I guess, really, as long as humans are involved, there would have been a no-win for Herbert on gender-roles, but in fairness, I think he balanced things really well by having strong characters, epic dramas, and largely ignoring gender entirely by making the real enemy always something internalized like  "survival against nature, survival against betrayal, etc., etc."

It was his son, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson who screwed it all up later by making these deep, complex thinkers into a bunch of romance-novel dumbfuck-mistake drama queens.