Hairy Ticks of Dune

There's only room enough in this stillsuit for one of us! ... Wait, come back!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A pearl of great price: Hunters I.4

When this "chapter" was first released online, I read it and thought, "Hey, this book might not suck too bad after all." It was the first time I remember thinking as well that there might actually be something of Frank Herbert in Hunters.

Of course, such hopes were premature and soon dashed into as many pieces as Leto shed sandtrout in the river. Rereading it now, I see a lot more problems. Let's have at it, shall we?

The epigraph: as little more than recap, this one, again, is mostly forgettable. Its only possible claim to importance is its introduction of the idea of questioning whether the God Emperor still exists in the form of a "pearl of consciousness" (or awareness) inside each worm. Questioning Leto—from the accuracy of his vision to the success of his Golden path—is a major theme of Hunters. Note that there is no "Priestess Ardath" mentioned anywhere else in the Chronicles.

The text: I feel a little bad ripping into this one for the reason mentioned above. Sentimentality will not stop me, though. Here's a change I would have made to the very first lines of this section:

Though Dune had been roasted clean of all life, the soul of the desert planet survived aboard the no-ship.

Maybe it's just me, but that small change reads much better than what they went with. "Roasted clean of all life" has problems, but whatever, eh?

The most salient characteristic of the first half of this section is its alternation of recapituation of events in the original novels (via character recollection) with new content from the "present". The above (first paragraph) is recap, the next three current/new, then two paragraphs of recap, one new+recap mixed paragraph, new, recap, and then a large chunk of new material until mention of the "corrupt priesthood on Rakis", which starts off another recap paragraph. Cut out the repetition of things that Dune fans should already know/remember and the section is less than two pages long.

What are we expected to take away from this section? about the fact that the worms in the no-ship hold are RESTLESS? The point is made THREE times using the word itself, three more using other expressions. We are told that Sheeana is consuming large amounts of spice to rev up her prescience. (???) Mention is made of "the hunters" who pursue the no-ship, but other than the old couple whom Duncan has seen, what evidence do they have that anyone else is seeking them? They've been incommunicado in another universe for three years, no? There's a tie in through Garimi's question with that in the epigraph ("Do you think the Tyrant is really in there?") and to Sheeana's final speculation ("If Leto II was indeed inside those creatures, he must be having troubled dreams." [Since the worms are restless, get it?]). And a bit of silliness about life from the viewpoint of a sandworm ("Sheeana shook her head, knowing that the creatures' primitive memories must recall swimming through an endless sea of dunes. ... And what about the worms? she wondered. What do they truly want? ... Sheeana watched them in their restless motion, wondering how much they understood of their strange situation.") I was a little confused as to why Garimi hesitated to call the voyage of The Ithaca (snicker) an "odyssey" ("Garimi caught herself, as if on the verge of uttering a deprecatory word...") when we've already been told that the same line of thinking was involved in the christening of the ship itself. Oh well.

In conclusion, this section isn't as bad as some that are coming, but it's really rather pointless.

Watching the worms in the hold below, Sheeana and Garimi remarked on how they seemed to be able to sense Sheeana's presence.

There...a rewrite compressing the whole section into one line.

Were the editors of this book paid NOT to do their jobs?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Entertaining as always chigger! Looking forward to the upcoming chapters! :D

9:13 PM, March 11, 2007 
Blogger SandChigger said...

Thanks...I think.

I mean...think about how many more "chapters" there are!!!!

Normally I berate anonymous commenters, but we all have our stories and besides, this evening I'm in a mellow sort of mood. :)

2:04 AM, March 12, 2007 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this section has all the usual problems, but for some reason i found it less annoying than many of the others. I too was a bit stumped by Sheana eating spice to boost her prescience--was she prescient? Will she have the same limits that Alia seemed to have when trying to use prescience? Hmmm...

And yes, the worms are very restless :)

12:50 PM, March 15, 2007 
Blogger Klea said...

Young and restless worms... (hears portentious piano music in the background)

- Klea (aka Hypatia)

1:36 PM, June 10, 2007 

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