Calling Cote and anybody else interested. I finished, 'Dune' btw.

(67 Posts)

The final eighth or so was okay. I was really, really bored by the rest of it, mostly because I thought that Jessica was snooty and dull and Paul was dull and a prig. All of Jessica's internal dialogues just made me hate her more and more with every one. I was most interested in the, 'servants' like Duncan and Guerney and co, but they were hardly in it.

Doubt I'll bother with any more in the series.

Now, does anybody want to tell me what greatness I've failed to recognise in it?

Cote - I only finished it because I vowed I wasn't going to give you the chance to say I was unfit to comment because I'd given up! wink

CoteDAzur Thu 08-Aug-13 20:54:29

You are learning grin

It is quite possible that we notice/value different things in books. It wouldn't occur to me to hate a book because a character is not entertaining enough ('dull') or too proper (I had to look up 'prig' smile). I would hate a book that is too simple, or has glaring inconsistencies. Sci-fi fans in general are probably not as interested in character development as the ideas.

But what were the ideas?

All of the ideas I could see were that with power and money, there is likely to be treachery and vioence (nothing new there); that violence leads to more violence but sometimes it's necessary (or there), and that Paul develops as a character by becoming a great leader, but he does it mostly through being rather boring and priggish and by having some bloody good, and bloody loyal, men around him.

So what did I miss?

Btw - I would also hate books which are too simple (unless it is purposeful simplicity such as in, 'The Little Prince' for example) or inconsistent. You make good characterisation sound like a fault, when my thought is that you need the good characterisation in order to carry the ideas one wants to get across.

pointythings Netherlands Thu 08-Aug-13 21:31:41

Remus I agree with everything you've said. I remember thinking that no way would Paul Atreides have amassed a following, given that he'd had a complete charisma bypass.

And I'm the sucker who read three and a half books in the series, that's a lot of hours of my life I'll never get back.

By the way, that's my measure of a bad book - when I resent the time I've spent reading it. The last one was Dean Koontz's 77 Shadow Street.

Phew!

Yes, re resentment. 'Wolf Hall' was my last one. Usually I give up if something doesn't interest me enough, quickly enough, but I forced myself to finish WH and then felt cross with myself for doing so.

CoteDAzur Thu 08-Aug-13 21:46:28

No, not a fault but not that important for some of us and/or for some books. It doesn't bother me that a character is snobbish and another is too proper, for example. People are rarely perfect in RL and it doesn't surprise me for elite aristocrats to be snooty and prig.

In Dune, the details are fascinating in their complexity and consistency. Space travel is so fast that pilots need to be able to to see the future a bit. For this they need Spice - rare, addictive, and essential for space travel. Which can't be automated because thinking machines are outlawed, so people called Mentats train as computers.

Water is precious on Dune so all sorts of traditions, habits etc follow from this - offering tears to the dead etc. Bene Gesserit plans centuries ahead, even planting legends in case they are useful later on etc.

Not to mention the complicated game played between organisations & opponents with their own agendas, alliances, and plans spanning generations. It might not be your kind of book but it is mine smile

pointythings Netherlands Thu 08-Aug-13 21:48:32

Cote I will concede the point on FH's world building skills. The detail was what kept me reading the books that I did - I was studying anthropology at the time and it chimed.

But the rest of it was just completely lacking, and world building alone isn't enough for me. If that makes me shallow, I'm a paddling pool.

Priggish smile

Yes, the water stuff was an interesting, especially the Freman taking the water from the dead. But surely all of that would have been more interesting/better if the writing was less clunky (in places it was even grammatically inaccurate) and the characters were more interesting, so that one can actually care about the future of such a planet for the whole people, rather than being forced to sympathise throughout with two pretty one-dimensional characters, who have (because of the faults of the writing) failed to engage one?

'an interesting IDEA' - lost a word there!

Reality Thu 08-Aug-13 21:51:56

I really loved Dune, but it took me a while. I started it years ago and didn't get it and got bored.

It was only after dh raving about it, and watching the film, that I gave it another go, and this time it took a month and I did really enjoy it. I did have to force myself not to skim the more boring bits though.

Don't know if I'll bother reading the rest. Should I?

I had to put it down for a few days and read a Wilkie Collins instead, before forcing myself to finish it!

CoteDAzur Thu 08-Aug-13 21:54:04

"paddling pool" grin

I don't think it makes you shallow. To each their own.

You also need to remember that Dune was written in 1965. Back then, writing styles were quite different.

All this talk is making me want to read all six Dune books again grin

Paddling pool. smile I'm probably a puddle then.

Cote - I just don't get it. How on earth we could both love, 'This Thing Of Darkness' so much, and then find virtually nothing else we can agree on, other than the odd SK, is beyond me!

CoteDAzur Thu 08-Aug-13 21:56:44

"characters were more interesting, so that one can actually care about the future of such a planet"

We spoke about this before grin and again, I care about its future if the story is interesting, not if the author has spent hundreds more pages on anecdotes and descriptions to render the characters "interesting".

No, you're missing my point - or I'm not explaining it properly. I don't want more time spent on character, I want BETTER time spent on character. Use the same number of words, but do it in a way that works better. I thought his characterisation was poor and that improving it would have made the story better. The internal dialogue stuff was particularly weak - and very repetitive, thus wasting words.

TheWickedBitchOfTheBest Fri 09-Aug-13 20:20:11

First read Dune when I was 14 and liked it. Have read it several times since and always enjoyed it, tried to get into the rest but they all lacked the grandeur of the first book.

Herbert's imagination was incredible. Loved the thought that regular human beings could train and train to the point where their abilities could be almost superhuman.

Okay so Paul Atredies was still just your average, sulky bit confused teenager I guess.

Thanks Wicked. Tbh, I think I'd have liked it a lot more as a 14 year old, because I suspect that I'd have admired Paul more, and been less bothered by Jessica, if that makes sense?

I took it back to the charity shop yesterday, so I won't be re-reading it!

TheWickedBitchOfTheBest Sat 10-Aug-13 13:23:01

I think the characters were intentinally quite unemotional. Don't forget Dune is set in our future approximately 8,000 years from now. Herbert's demonstrated that the elite caste of humans have now evolved and trained to the point where they have what 'we'd' think of as super human powers.

Plus they're all living on a knife edge with other elite families trying to kill each other, so not much time for cuddles and being all wooley I expect grin

smile True - but I still think that better characterisation (not more emotional characters but a better sense of character given by the writer) would have made for a stronger book. If Nabakov can make readers care about what happens to Humbert Humbert, then Herbert ought to be able to make me care about Paul Atriedes, who is (in concept but not in the skill of the writer) a far more sympathetic character.

CoteDAzur Sat 10-Aug-13 17:22:10

Please explain this a bit. How do the characters need to be portrayed for you to care what happens to them?

I'm thinking of murder mysteries, spy stories, books about psychopathic serial killers, for example. Do you really need the characters to be rendered to your satisfaction to be interested in how the story will develop & end?

minipie Sat 10-Aug-13 17:32:48

Honestly it is a weakness of a lot of science fiction that the characters don't seem like real fully rounded people.

I hate making sweeping generalisations like this but I wonder if it's because they tend to be written by nerdy men who are more interested in the science than the people?

if you still want to try science fiction you could try seeking out books by women? Ursula Le Guin jumps to mind. I think her characters are a bit more developed though again they tend to be of the enigmatic sort...

minipie Sat 10-Aug-13 17:34:24

Oh and quite a bit of Margaret Atwood falls under science fiction - Handmaids Tale for eg.

SoupDragon Sat 10-Aug-13 17:37:34

From memory, the first Dune book was good, the rest got progressively more shit as they went on. I can't remember at what point in the series I gave up - a several books in (3? 4?), I know that.

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