Hairy Ticks of Dune

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

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Answers to answers:

After stewing over Kevin's responses for a bit longer than he took in formulating them, here are my comments (question summaries in blue, KJA answers in black, my comments in red):

On criticisms of inconsistency:

While I'll get to specifics in a moment, I have indeed heard some of the criticisms and so-called "inconsistencies" and yet most of them are clearly explained in the novels themselves upon a careful reading, or at the very least with a little bit of imagination -- and Dune fans should be well-versed in using their imaginations. I have yet to see any fan, even our harshest critics, point out a significant inconsistency. Considering the more than 8000 pages of published Dune fiction, Brian and I believe we have done a creditable job. For the few fans who continue to quibble, we appreciate your dedication and enthusiasm, and we understand why you want to hold us to the highest standards. However, there are significant errors and inconsistencies in the original Dune novels as well, and I'm certain that the careful readers have spotted plenty of them. Such things do not at all diminish *my* appreciation of Frank Herbert's literary greatness, but I wonder how such highly critical fans can stand it? Or is there a double standard at work here?

As others have already pointed out, Kevin is saying that there is not even one "significant inconsistency" in the new books, but Frank Herbert's contained "significant errors and inconsistencies". In other words, Kevin and Brian are writing more consistent books than even Frank Herbert himself!

So...if you think there is something inconsistent in the new books, you have not read carefully enough or have failed to use your imagination. Reread or start using your brain, stupid!

Nice way for an author to look at readers, ain't it?

Re no-technology:

The technology developed by the Richesian inventor Chobyn in the HOUSE books took place thousands of years before no-field technology was introduced to the reader in HERETICS. Chobyn was killed and all records of his work were destroyed, and the technology was lost. There is nothing to suggest that these two are the exactly same technologies.

Other than the name, you mean? If it was a completely different technology, why did you use the same name? And no-tech was introduced in God Emperor of Dune, by the way. Oops.

Re the Tleilaxu Masters, Kevin responded:

Just because one Tleilaxu Master is said to be old does not mean they all live to such a great age. My father-in-law is 82 years old; does that mean every human will live to 82? Frank Herbert also describes the Tleilaxu as being small-statured gnomish men, and yet Duncan Idaho (in CHAPTERHOUSE) disguises himself as a Tleilaxu man, so either Duncan suddenly shrunk, or there are some tall Tleilaxu, too. You can't take one data point and extend it to an entire race.

Notice that he doesn't answer the question, just obfuscates with irrelevancies. And what is most embarrassing for either the first or the second of the "world's biggest Dune fans" is how he totally screws up the details of his counter example. As Tleilax Master B and others have pointed out, Duncan was still young when he passed as a Tleilaxu.

Sirafa studied Duncan. "Yes, he is small enough yet. He will be disguised and conveyed separately."

"No!" Lucilla said. "I am commanded to guard him!"

"You are being foolish," Sirafa said. "They will be looking for a woman of your appearance accompanied by someone of this young man's appearance. They will not be looking for a playfem of the Honored Matres with her companion of the night...nor for a Tleilaxu Master and his entourage."

And this is from HERETICS, not CHAPTERHOUSE. But only someone without a life worries about such minor details, right?

The answers to those questions should be fairly obvious: This "planned obsolescence" comes from Kevin and Brian, not Frank Herbert's notes.

On spice-producing sandworms:

In the original books Frank Herbert quite clearly makes the distinction that the worms spawned from Leto II's body are different creatures from the original worms on Arrakis. Pointing to details in the Appendix to DUNE is comparing apples and oranges.

Another very clever but unsupportable obfuscation. Leto II says that the worms that arise after he goes back into the sand will be smarter and more dangerous. He never says anything about a change in the fundamental nature of the spice cycle.

Keep this in mind in connection with the Sandworms cover illustration and get your beach towels ready: HERE COME THE WATERWORMS!!!

Kevin chose to blow off the questions on Norma Cenva as super hero, on whether the Baron-Mohiam rape & pox-dosing scene was based on FH's notes, on the inspirations for Kailea Vernius and Mephistus Cru, and what ideas for the Butlerian Jihad as described in the Legends books came from conversations between Frank and Brian:

I'm not going to go into specific details on which ideas, or which part of an idea, came from Frank Herbert conversations, or his notes, or from me, or from Brian. In my opinion, that would only become an endless spiral. They are all DUNE books, they are all canon, and the authors are clearly listed on the cover, so readers know who typed the actual words.

"The authors are clearly listed on the cover"...OK, so it's Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson that "typed the actual words." Frank Herbert's contributions to the new books have been passive at best.

The determination of what is really "canon" is a difficult issue. Surely it has to involve something more thant authoritative fiat based on copyright ownership.

And the only reason questions of this sort could lead to "an endless spiral" is because the two current authors continue to give bullshit answers like these.

On consistency checking:

Indeed, the Duniverse is very intricate and complex (8000 pages so far, as I mentioned above). Brian and I read each manuscript from 10-14 times through, and the manuscripts are also checked by four test readers, two editors (one of them an original editor of Frank Herbert's Dune novels), a PhD Dune scholar, an English professor, two copy editors, and two proofreaders, all of whom are familiar with the Dune novels. That constitutes quite a rigorous review, and far more than virtually any other published novel receives.

Obviously, though, not "rigorous" enough. Were there any objections or recommendations from this group of experts that you chose to ignore on the grounds of "artistic license"? And who is the "PhD Dune scholar", by the way? (Hopefully you're not referring to Dr. Torkos. His doctorate is in medicine, if I recall correctly.)

On "canon" in a fiction series and conflicts of interest:

Gene Roddenberry created the original STAR TREK, and he died sometime during the third season of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION. I don't believe anyone has ever suggested that the episodes of NEXT GENERATION produced after his death, or DEEP SPACE NINE, or VOYAGER, or the last four STAR TREK films are *not canon* just because the original creator was no longer around.

Frank Herbert was always a great supporter of Brian's writing, assisting him with his solo novels (SUDANNA, SUDANNA, THE RACE FOR GOD, etc.). Frank Herbert's last published novel, MAN OF TWO WORLDS, was a collaboration with Brian, and because he enjoyed the experience of working with his son, he suggested that the two of them consider writing further DUNE novels together, "passing the torch" as it were (much as Anne McCaffrey has recently brought in her son Todd to continue writing "Pern" books). The first project they talked about doing together was to tell the story of the Butlerian Jihad. When Frank was diagnosed with a very aggressive pancreatic cancer, his time was far shorter than anyone expected. It is my understanding that he spent much of his last months finalizing the story for THE ASCENSION FACTOR with Bill Ransom. The last work he wrote was an article on writing for the Writers of the Future contest, from his hospital bed at the University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin.

There is simply no question that Frank Herbert approved of Brian's desire to work in the Dune universe, and the ten members his literary estate also wholeheartedly support the decision. The heirs of Frank Herbert are the only ones who decide canon or what is best for the Dune legacy. There can be no "conflict of interest" with yourself.

Even our harshest detractors must admit that the publication of the new Dune novels has been an overwhelmingly good thing for Dune -- the sales of Frank Herbert's original Dune novels have increased more than 300% since the publication of HOUSE ATREIDES, bringing millions of new readers to the universe. Six of Frank's long out-of-print works have finally been rereleased (the most recent, HELLSTROM'S HIVE, just out last month). SOUL CATCHER has just been optioned by a film maker, and there is other new interest in Frank Herbert properties. None of these things were possible before the renewed prominence of the Dune chronicles.

I'm not really sure about the relevancy of the Star Trek series examples. Different medium, different situation, with very different levels of consistency between the original and sequel series. (And note the conspicuous absence of ENTERPRISE from his list; I do believe there has been some controversy over its canonicity, no?)

I'm also not convinced that "suggesting" he and Brian write "further Dune novels together" necessarily constitutes Frank Herbert "passing the torch". Or that "approving Brian's desire to work in the Dune universe" would extend to the milking of the cash cow that we're seeing. (Remember, after Sandworms comes out, it'll be eight books by B&K to six by FH, with three more books already announced and no end in sight.)

Kevin & the Prequelites love to tout the role of the new books in the increased sales and renewed popularity of Frank Herbert's original Dune and other novels in justifying what they have done and plan to keep on doing. The problem with this, as I have pointed out elsewhere, is that publishing these second-rate books is not the only way this goal could have been accomplished. It's almost as if he's saying that the end (and not the primary one, remember) justifies the means.

I've nothing to say on his other answers at the moment. This was, ultimately, an exercise in futility, but at least it proved educational in confirming some personal suspicions I have held concerning this whole situation.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) Exactly what I was thinking when I saw his comment about consistency. He professes to know more about Dune than the actual author by saying that.

2) I didn't catch that slip about chapterhouse and heretics. haha!

10:38 PM, May 03, 2007 
Blogger SandChigger said...

Hello there, small yellow friend! We don't see enough of you!

I'm sure it was just a typo on the book titles. After all, he's one of the world's two greatest Dune fans!


11:07 PM, May 03, 2007 
Blogger Mokhtar Tea said...

I think the problem isn't that he thinks he's correct, or that he feels he is being treated unfairly. But that Brian and Kevin didn't think the story through and now they're stuck with it.

It'd be nice if they were a little less dismissive and understood that there are people out there that love Dune as much (although most likely more) than they do. And have better reading skills then they do.

P.S. I'm a lurker on the forums and got linked here via that. I don't even remember my name on there although I believe its nessus87. Haven't posted in a while.

11:05 PM, May 07, 2007 
Blogger SandChigger said...

Tea time? :)


Personally I suspect that they had a lot of ideas and plotlines in mind before they ever found the "treasure trove" of FH's notes and all and then didn't have the sense or courage to follow the wise maxim "Kill your darlings." The references to the first BG Mother Superior Raquella and Serena Butler in the House books show that they (or at least Brian?) had certain things planned from the beginning. (And remember, they say they were planning on continuing the series well before the materials discoveries.)

The really incomprehensible thing about the inconsistencies (if they aren't in fact intentional changes that they're just too afraid to own up to, as I now believe) is the massive concordance Brian is supposed to have spent a year or so working on. If it was done with any thoroughness at all, how can they possibly make mistakes?

Anyway, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

(I just looked and you were "nessus7487" on the DN boards. Your profile says you've made 5 posts, but only one seems to have escaped thread pruning before Byron turned it off. :( You can get the boardware to send your password to long as your email address hasn't changed!)

11:44 PM, May 07, 2007 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good observations as always. The Tleilaxu Master thing is particularly annoying, because his answer is counter to what he puts in Hunters! I reread Hunters on my flight home from Hawaii the other day, and took special note of that section and others. He clearly says that the Masters were short-sighted due to their reliance on serial gholas and that genetic "errors" were carried on because it was God's will that they don't achieve perfection--or some such nonsense. Anyway, see you back on the boards!

8:27 AM, May 10, 2007 

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