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Father, the sleeper has awakened! Let's Read Dune
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Father, the sleeper has awakened! Let's Read Dune:

I've been a fan of sci-fi for most of my life, yet somehow I've never gotten around to reading the book widely regarded as the genre's equivalent of The Lord of the Rings, and trumpeted as the best-selling science fiction novel of all time. Well, it's time to correct that, and I'll be putting down my thoughts here.

I've managed to learn very little about the book up to now, just that it's set on a desert planet and has giant sandworms. Oh, and that David Lynch made a horrible movie where Sting wears a speedo. I'm looking forward to finding out more, so please, no spoilers.
 
 2 Willy Four Eyes, Wed, 1st Sep '10 4:22:16 PM from Darby, PA, USA Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Shulkamaniac
Sting the wrestler, or Sting the dude from The Police?
 3 Ponicalica, Wed, 1st Sep '10 4:35:51 PM from facing Buttercup
Dude from the Police, if I remember correctly.
Excellent. I recently finished the novel, after putting it off for a year or two, so it will be nice to have a second opinion.

 5 Arilou, Thu, 2nd Sep '10 5:50:08 AM from Quasispace
Taller than Zim
Meh, it's hardly a LOTR equivalent. I'd easily put Asimov's Foundation' cycle ahead of Dune'' in importance.
"No, the Singularity will not happen. Computation is hard." -Happy Ent
Book 1: Dune

Chapter 1:

First comes a quote by Princess Irulan that makes very little sense at the moment, about someone named Muad'Dib who lived on the planet Caladan until he was fifteen before moving to Arrakis, yet the latter should be considered his true home planet. Let's see if some light can be shed on this.

Paul Atreides is visited late at night by an old woman, shown in by his mother Jessica. She notes he's fifteen, and this is also the week when he'll be moving from Caladan to Arrakis, so apparently Paul will become Muad'Dib unless Herbert's pulling a big Mind Screw on us. The woman suspects him of being the Kwisatz Haderach; hoo boy, that's a pretty ominous sign of the words that can come out of the author's head. At least the words are just as meaningless to Paul, along with his mother calling the woman "Your Reverence" despite being a duke's concubine; apparently the position is more respectful than it sounds.

Some backstory is shoved in: Paul's father Duke Leto has just wrestled away a contract to supply the spice melange from the Atreides' long-standing enemies the Harkonnens. Paul also has prophetic dreams, so I think he can safely be called The Chosen One. He does a very confusing meditation technique that has something to do with the seperation of animal instincts and human intelligence. Dammit, The Dosadi Experiment never had anything like this.

Jessica wakes him up in the morning, and tells him the old woman was her teacher at "Bene Gesserit" school, and now the "Emperor's Truthsayer." I certainly hope all this stuff will be cleared up soon; I'm drowning in new words here.

We switch to the old woman's perspective: the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. She's upset about a bunch of stuff, including a Spacing Guild, and that Jessica had been ordered to have a girl. So apparently there's some way to control that here; that should be a good bit of backstory. Paul's brought in and she orders a terrified Jessica to leave. Then she orders Paul to put his hand in a mysterious green box. Things took a weird turn all of a sudden.

Next Mohiam puts a poisonous needle called a gom jabbar next to his neck, and Paul naturally suspects she's from the Harkonnens. But apparently this is something else, and she says she'll let him live if he keeps his hand in the box. He uses another meditation technique, and tells her to get on with it already. Okay, I'm starting to like this kid now. Then things quickly enter High Octane Nightmare Fuel as he feels his hand being burned, becoming so intense that he imagines all the flesh on his hand has been burned away. Then it stops and it turns out his hand is fine; the box works directly on the nerves so people who take this test aren't injured.

Mohiam rambles on some more about how the test is to see if he's human, but by now I'm totally lost. Paul passed, apparently suffering more than anyone has before, and Mohiam determines he can also tell when someone is lying. Jessica comes back in, relieved that her son is human. Whatever that's supposed to mean. Another bit of backstory is slipped in rather more neatly than the last one: humans relied too much on technology in the past, and now people like the Bene Gesserit are using this test to find people free of that influence. At least I think that's what she's saying; this woman could give Jacob a run for his money.

Thankfully the next bit of exposition is pretty clear: the Bene Gesserit and Spacing Guild evolved from two schools of thought in the wake of the revolt against dependence on machines, the former believing in something uncomfortably close to eugenics from what I can tell, talking about seperating humans from animals to breed new generations. To his credit Paul is shocked out of any real interest by this, and challenges Mohiam again. Finally there's some explanation of the Kwisatz Haderach; a prophesized man who will be able to see farther into the past than anyone else.

So, things are just barely starting to become clear, but what little I am able to tell right now has real promise. Hopefully Herbert doesn't keep up this level of obtuseness through the whole thing.
 
"I certainly hope all this stuff will be cleared up soon; I'm drowning in new words here."

There should be a glossary in the back. That's all the help you're going to get from this novel. Ever.

I'm afraid the obtuseness is going to be sticking around for... pretty much the whole book.

edited 2nd Sep '10 5:07:32 PM by Blazinghydra

Ah, yes. I'm reading this on an Ipad so using the glossary's a bit awkward. Though it helps that Paul is just as much in the dark about all of this as the reader, so it doesn't feel like we're just dropped into this world and left to muddle through it.

And I love the introduction that says "To increase understanding is a laudable goal." Full of yourself a bit much, Frank?

edited 2nd Sep '10 5:16:20 PM by Eegah

 
 9 Myrmidon, Fri, 3rd Sep '10 1:46:23 PM from In Antartica
The Ant King
That human/animal bit of philosophy doesn't get delved into too much, so don't worry about it.
Kill all math nerds
Chapter 2:

Princess Irulan brings up the Harkonnens again, calling them Muad'Dib's "mortal enemies." Then a bunch more philosophical mumbo jumbo. This woman's starting to piss me off and she hasn't even appeared yet.

We're now in the office of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, which we know because he says "Is it not a magnificent thing that I, the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, do?" You know, this isn't a screenplay; it's okay to give us information outside of dialogue so you don't get awkward lines like that. Though the description of the room is pretty vivid, if suffering a bit from Tech Marches On with the inclusion of "scrolls, filmbooks, tapes, and reels." He's not the most subtle villain either, being very fat, prone to laughing, and the owner of a bunch of rings.

He's meeting with his nephew Feyd-Rautha and another guy named Piter, about how giving up the melange contract was a Batman Gambit against Leto, though we don't get any details yet. A message arrives from Leto refusing to meet in person, and we learn the word "vendetta" has evolved into "kanly." Okay, now I'm just irritated. Either leave the word the same, or explain it to the reader directly, don't have the characters As You Know like Harkonnen does about this. I have no idea how Herbert didn't see this advantage to writing a book over a movie.

Piter is a Mentat, which I guess is some kind of elite assassin, and somehow has creepy entirely blue eyes. He and Harkonnen have a bizarre conversation arguing over their plan, even though they agree that it's going well so far. Feyd-Rautha endears himself to me just as much as Paul by just being embarrassed about the the whole thing.

There's a bit more explaining the plan, though a bit more natural this time: a Dr. Yueh will soon make his move against Leto, which will alert everyone who was behind the whole thing in a necessary part of the gambit, but Harkonnen is still uneasy about it. He and Piter bicker like an old married couple some more, solidifying Piter as a Psycho for Hire while Harkonnen's a bit more reserved in his villainy. Kind of odd as he was just introduced as a Large Ham. And Piter's payment for his part in the plan is Jessica, so things just got pretty creepy.

Feyd-Rautha is now bored enough to ask out loud if this is going anywhere. Hee! But it does get Harkonnen to come to the point: with Piter still right there in the room, he holds him up to Feyd-Rautha as a bad example of someone who's too emotional about his work. "Precisely. You are on display. Now be silent." Suddenly he got awesome too. It's also implied that Piter's eyes are due to his being addicted to melange; maybe it won't just be a MacGuffin then.

When Piter's allowed to talk again, it's to outline their plan, which Feyd-Rautha doesn't know. Man, this is like watching Herbert become a better writer right before my eyes. They've already determined where Leto will move in on Arrakis, and have arranged for a failed assassination attempt on Paul by Dr. Yueh, The Mole thanks to Harkonnen breaking his Imperial Conditioning somehow. But moving on, next they'll get Leto's Mentat Hawat to suspect Jessica, plus arranging a few uprisings to be put down until the real attack with Sardauker, the best of the best of Imperial troops. I really like this whole section; we get a good feel for the broad strokes of the plan, while the specifics like how they'll get Hawat to suspect Jessica and how they got Yueh on their side are still left to see later.

The end result will be that the Atreides will be wiped out and everyone will know the Harkonnens did it, which will somehow put them in a very good position with a corporation named CHOAM. The chapter was going very well for a while now, but for some reason it ends with more detailing of how fat Harkonnen is. Thanks, I can remember back to the beginning of the same chapter.

edited 3rd Sep '10 4:00:42 PM by Eegah

 
 11 Myrmidon, Fri, 3rd Sep '10 9:08:10 PM from In Antartica
The Ant King
The glossary explains mentats. They're basically super-intelligent walking logical powerhouse who have been trained to do some of the work computers used to do.

Piter's what's called a twisted mentat, meaning he has all that minus the strong code of honor most mentats are trained to have, or even a basic sense of morality.

edited 3rd Sep '10 9:10:23 PM by Myrmidon

Kill all math nerds
 12 harmattane, Sat, 4th Sep '10 4:58:52 AM from Location, location
X_X
Nice. I don't think I could liveblog a book myself; there's so much detail to condense.

However, I did liveblog the movie—both of them—for if you want to see what those are like without taking the time to watch. Here is my take on the Lynch version, which I actually enjoyed more (it's short, only 4 pages with medium entries) because it was so unintentionally hilarious. Good luck reading that though; I wrote it when I really bad insomnia. And here is the Sci-fi channel's version—yeah, sounds terrible already, doesn't it? I liked that one less because though both were a fantastic mess, this one didn't have near as excellent lulz or Patrick Stewart and Brad Dourif to steal the show from all of the lead actors.

Both of these liveblogs obviously contain spoilers.

edited 4th Sep '10 5:24:48 AM by harmattane

Ce ne pas un post.
the Baron is really one of the few flaws of the book, at least in my eyes anyway. If you think he's bad now, wait until later, where he devolves into what one would call cartoonishly over-the-top evil, which really stands out against the relatively complex other villains.

Chapter 3:

Oh god, every single chapter is going to start with Irulan monologing, isn't it? This time it's about the Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit having to balance herself between being a courtesan and a virgin goddess. Uh, yeah, good luck with that.

Mohiam chews out Jessica over having a boy, which was because Leto wanted a son. Plus she thought she might just produce the Kwisatz Haderach. Mohiam calls her out for the arrogance of that with some justification, but she's still way too aggressive for me to take her side here. Jessica responds "You're not infallible." Every time I start to get irritated by the obtuse posturing of some of these characters, someone else brings them down to earth like that.

Mohiam threatens that this can only end with Jessica and Paul becoming fugitives, and launches into more exposition with little prompting: control of human civilization is split between the Emperor, the Spacing Guild, and the "Federated Great Houses of the Landsraad, " though that last one isn't expanded on. Jessica continues mocking her and says she'll protect Paul, and Mohiam reminds her too much of that will make him grow up too weak for any destiny. That's really the first solid point she's made so far, and it's still rather off the topic.

Paul comes in, giving Mohiam "the nod one gives an equal." I love this kid. He can instinctually tell when his dreams are prophetic, and one last night involved telling a blue-eyed melange taking girl about this very meeting. Plot point! The girl will also ask him about a planet called Usul, though given how it's phrased I'm guessing the Prophecy Twist is that Usul is actually a title he'll have by then. There's also a poem about a beach, but I'll just wait to see the significance of that.

Next Paul senses that Mohiam wants him to talk, but waits her out, also guessing she doesn't really know anything about how he can survive the tests to be Kwisatz Haderach. And after a couple "hints" that will doubtless prove to have some twist for later, he thinks "Fatuous old witch with her mouth full of platitudes." I had my doubts on the whole Chosen One thing at first, but his absolute refusal to take any of this crap at face value has completely won me over.

Mohiam moves on to saying that Leto is now doomed to die thanks to Paul being a boy. She leaves with a few more words trying to look like a kindy old Obi Wan, but it's way too late. Though Jessica does note that Mohiam's tearing up as she goes, so at least she has some feeling about this. I'm still totally on Paul's side, though.
 
Chapter 4:

So Irulan also wrote a children's book about Muad'Dib, which talks about his childhood teachers. Let's meet them now, rendering this quote like all the others completely pointless.

Thufir Hawat, the aforementioned Atreides Mentat, stops in to talk to Paul after noting how Paul has incredible hearing and can tell people apart just by listening to them coming up behind him. I smell a Chekhov's Skill. Paul's been studying Arrakis, on which storms can reach 700 KPH. And the Spacing Guild wants more than they can pay to do weather control, so they're pretty much screwed. Paul abruptly moves to the Fremen, nomads who wear special suits to preserve their own sweat. Gross, but understandable.

Flashback to the meeting with Mohiam, who goes on a bit more about what a shithole Arrakis is. Then she advises him that a proper ruler is necessary for any civilization to function. Knowing her, that's probably not as good advice as it sounds.

Paul tells Hawat about her threat to Leto, and Hawat also isn't too impressed by her. Though she kept going with more advice, about persuading people that an order is right, and learn to get in touch with the nature of a place or some other crap. She had me, and she lost me. Hawat tells him in confidence that there's far more Fremen than anyone knows and they're against the Harkonnens. Paul brings up another planet called Salusa Secundus, but we don't get any more detail before Hawat cuts him off. That happens a lot in this book.

Hawat leaves just in time for us to meet Gurney Halleck, a "troubador-warrior." He's Paul's favorite of Leto's men, and they trade insults for a bit. Another brief bit of foreshadowing for another fighting teacher named Duncan Idaho (reaching deep into the barrel for that one, Frank), before a fun Bawdy Song. Okay, I'm really liking this guy now.

They have a practice fight, where we learn there are personal force fields that only slow-moving attacks can enter, requiring a good deal of feinting beforehand. And now Halleck gets much more serious, as Paul disregarding his lessons is a Berserk Button despite all their teasing before. Paul even wonders if Halleck is trying to kill him. And it turns out these shields have another Achilles' Heel: the air inside them isn't sufficiently replenished, so you can choke on ozone if you're inside too long. That'll probably come in handy later. Paul gets in a killing stroke, but leaves himself open for another, so I'm guessing there'll be a climactic fight where he remembers not to do that at the last second.

Halleck explains that it's now time for Paul to start taking these lessons seriously, now that he'll be put in closer contact with the Harkonnens. And that does stop him from being a Mary Sue, so it's a nice touch. Paul is set against a remote control dummy, while Halleck thinks back to how his sister died as a prostitute for the Harkonnens, and he can't remember what kind of flowers she liked, a surprisingly effective Tearjerker for having just met him. So he'll probably die horribly.

edited 5th Sep '10 10:00:07 AM by Eegah

 
NOT holding a Shoe Phone
There's a subtle point to the Irulan quotes, but it isn't explained explicitly until the very end of the novel. I found it AWESOME when I finally got it, though.

(I'm trying very hard to be has non-specific as possible.)
Liveblogging of EP 8 of Umineko no Naku Koro ni to start... sometime.
Chapter 5:

I look forward to seeing what the quotations add up to, but for now we finally get one that has immediate significance, showing that Dr. Yueh's name will later become Bene Gesserit shorthand for traitor, and also gives his birth and death dates which lets us know the story is set in the 101st century, assuming it's still using AD. That's a good deal further ahead than most sci-fi, though I guess the general use of 3-500 years in the future hadn't quite been set yet.

Yueh visits Paul and we get a physical description, which includes purple lips. Okay, moving on. He regrets betraying the Atreides, but it's so the Harkonnens don't hurt someone or something named Wanna anymore. Always nice to get more depth to a stock character like The Mole.

Paul learns that besides the Fremen, the rest of the planet's population is the graben, the sink, and the pan, presumably all different regions with cities. And all of them have the blue eyes, so Piter might have a bit more of a backstory too. And finally a bit on the famous sandworms, which are known to grow up to 400 meters. They mostly live in the poles, so they're otherwise uninhabited.

Yueh gives Paul a tiny Bible printed on filament paper too delicate to be touched, so it's operated by magnetism. The way it's described is pretty confusing, though I've read that Herbert was far more interested in the people of the future than the technology. And it's really so Yueh can imagine Paul will go to heaven. After several flat characters, Herbert has suddenly gotten very good at quickly introducing people and giving them real depth.

Paul is told to read a marked section, but Wanna had marked her own favorite passage, so that's what he gets. Yueh says Wanna is his dead wife, though it's not clear if that's true. But Paul still suspects something was off about his reaction.

A pretty short chapter, so I'll take this opportunity to comment on some of the casting for the Lynch film:

Kyle Mac Lachlan as Paul: I can only assume Paul was aged up in the film, and with this being his first film I have no idea what led Lynch to cast him. Still, I loved him in Desperate Housewives despite some very uneven material, and can see him making it work.

Brad Dourif as Piter: Always a good choice for creepy psychos, and the image of him with completely blue eyes already makes me shudder.

Sian Phillips as Mohiam: Completely fucking awesome. The woman was terrifying in I, Claudius, and I can easily see her brand of reptilian menace working just as well in this role.

Patrick Stewart as Halleck: Not quite who came to mind while reading it, but he does do brooding, introspective heroism very well, and could handle the jaunty insult trading too.

Sting as Feyd-Rautha: The character is described as dark-haired and sullen-eyed, not exactly bringing to mind Sting, especially in 1984. Chalk this one up to a pure publicity stunt, especially with what I've heard about the speedo.

Dean Stockwell as Yueh: A very versatile actor who I can definitely see doing a great job.

So, far more right than wrong, though the ones Lynch did get wrong remain very head-scratching.

edited 9th Sep '10 5:14:08 PM by Eegah

 
 18 harmattane, Mon, 6th Sep '10 2:34:15 AM from Location, location
X_X
If you think he's bad now, wait until later, where he devolves into what one would call cartoonishly over-the-top evil, which really stands out against the relatively complex other villains.
One of the attributes of the book I personally enjoyed was how it went amusingly over the top with some things, oddly enough. Probably not the intended effect, but then again, it didn't seem too off in context. Messiah origin stories can be pretty crazy.

So Irulan also wrote a children's book about Muad'Dib, which talks about his childhood teachers.
I wish that book existed so I could have it. [lol] And speaking of lulz, Paul being aged up in the films is practically a running gag; they did that for both. As well, the casting of Sting did have a value, if unintentional hilarity is value.

Also, wild mass guess: Duncan Idaho and Indiana Jones got their names from the same dealer.

edited 6th Sep '10 2:39:40 AM by harmattane

Ce ne pas un post.
Chapter 6:

Irulan talks about Leto, and how he was a great man despite being overshadowed by his son in the history books. It occurs to me these appear to be written long after the book's events, so maybe we'll get a Distant Finale where we meet her.

Leto appears, and the description is a perfect match to Jurgen Prochnow, so good job there. He wants to protect his son from the hard reality, but forces himself to be honest about the danger they're going into, just to get a foot in the door at CHOAM. They also both suspect the Harkonnens are planning something by letting him have the contract, so Leto gives Paul a lesson in Xanatos Speed Chess: they need a full list of their allies and enemies, and also can't tell anyone their suspicions or Harkonnen will change his plan.

Time for more about Salusa Secundus: it's the emperor's prison planet, and possibly the source of Sardaukar via Boxed Crook. Which means it is, what with the law of conservatoin of detail and all. Leto hopes that the Fremen will provide a strong enough counterforce, having been raised under just as harsh conditions, plus being Beneath Notice for the Harkonnens. That's what Duncan Idaho has been doing, as their most moral and persuasive representative.

Leto advises Paul to be a Combat Pragmatist, against Halleck's more romantic instructions. So now I'm guessing that last second rememberance to not leave himself open during a killing stroke will also include fighting a bit dirty. Next, more on the Spacing Guild: they do all their work through proxies and no one ever sees the members themselves. This may be turning into a Kudzu Plot, but for now it strikes me as just a piece of world building rather than a mystery to be solved.

Then the bombshell: Paul learns that he's been trained to be a Mentat his whole life, as per custom, and the time has come to tell him. He decides to continue with it and Leto gets So Proud of You, though it's kept out of Crowning Moment of Heartwarming by Paul remembering the death threat.

One nice thing now is that the Unspoken Plan Guarantee is thrown out the window. We know both sides' plans, so it's up in the air who will win. Kind of like Death Note, really.
 
Chapter 7:

This opening quote is especially confusing, something about how Jessica's actions on Arrakis were the ultimate example of some Bene Gesserit tradition. I'm sure we'll find out later if it's important.

Jessica arrives at the family's new home and the former governor's mansion, in the city Arrakeen. She's first chosen to unpack a portrait of Leto's father, and a mounted bull head, which disturbs her for some reason. I've learned not to worry too much about it by now. She complains to Leto about living in a tiny slum, but he promises they'll make it better. But enough about that, because Jessica also has unknown ancestry that Leto suspects is Imperial. That probably ties in to the bull somehow.

Leto insists his father's portrait be hung in the dining hall, and Jessica is oddly set against it though she quickly yields. But she still objects so much that Leto says she only has to eat there on formal occasions. The book had been pretty understandable for a few chapters, but now I'm just confused about everything again.

Leto has hired Fremen to service the house until their own servants arrive, and one of them named Mapes wants to stay as Jessica's personal housekeeper, given the local legends about Bene Gesserit. They're starting to remind me of the Vorlons now. The Fremen have also agreed to consider the alliance, after some time observing the family. So you know something is going to screw that up.

Jessica tries fruitlessly one more time to hypnotize Leto into leaving, and after he goes to meet the next shuttle she yells a bit at the painting. This started getting weird a little while ago, didn't it? Then Mapes comes in, and takes a while to grasp Jessica's true relationship with Leto. Naturally, it turns out water is the high mark of wealth on Arrakis, which disturbs Jessica a bit. But then she goes right back to posturing as an almighty Bene Gesserit, even while privately questioning why. She freaks the hell out of Mapes, having figured out she'd brought a weapon, though it's still a bit more than necessary.

That weapon is something called a crysknife, and Jessica determines asking about it is the real reason Mapes wanted to see her. She almost screws up the answer, but quickly puts the mask back on and gets Mapes cowering before her again. And it seems this is what Irulan was talking about, so there's another opening quote with a clear purpose. And she gets Mapes to want to die for putting the knife away without any blood on it. This whole sequence is deeply uncomfortable, though that is probably the point as I'm now pretty sure we're supposed to see the Bene Gesserit as not the saviors they posture as.

Jessica realizes just what stock legend has been planted in the Fremen, of a Reverend Mother coming to free them, which is apparently a very bad sign. Mapes is put to work hanging the portrait and the bull, which killed Leto's father. That would have been nice to know before. Once again Herbert shows that odd problem of shoving exposition into dialogue when the narration could simply tell us these things. Jessica gets a bad feeling about the house despite all the safety checks that have been done, and as she runs off to see Paul, Mapes has pity on her for being the One. Apparently there's a bit more to the legend.

edited 6th Sep '10 1:05:38 PM by Eegah

 
 21 Myrmidon, Mon, 6th Sep '10 1:40:30 PM from In Antartica
The Ant King
Yeah, the Bene Gesserit are pretty morally ambiguous. As are pretty much everyone else but the Harkonnens(who are clearly evil).
Kill all math nerds
Well, the Atreides are generally portrayed pretty noble at all times too, so I doubt you could call them morally ambiguous. Until the prequel novels, at least. And the sequel novels too, if you count Paul and his descendants.

 23 Myrmidon, Mon, 6th Sep '10 4:03:13 PM from In Antartica
The Ant King
Until the prequel novels, at least
Those never happened, Goddamnit!

edited 6th Sep '10 4:03:21 PM by Myrmidon

Kill all math nerds
Chapter 8:

"'Yueh! Yueh! Yueh!' goes the refrain. 'A million deaths were not enough for Yueh!'" Well, that one got right to the point. More from A Child's History of Muad'Dib, please.

Jessica runs into Yueh while looking for Paul, and he accidentally uses her first name...which is actually so she'll think any other strange behavior is due to his embarrassment. He has a bit of Magnificent Bastard in him there. We find that the crysknife was made from a sandworm tooth, a rather odd place to plop that information down. Herbert really couldn't find any place in the last chapter for it? Though it's followed by a rather more natural exposition of the force field around the house as they look out the window.

They talk a bit about how much the place sucks, with the palm trees in front of the house taking water that could fulfill a hundred people. Jessica's still trying to convince herself she can help somehow, while Yueh is still tortured over what he's being forced to do. And he's also planning to kill Harkonnen afterwards; suddenly he's one of the most compelling characters.

As Jessica watches a sleeping Paul, Yueh confirms that Wanna is his wife, and also a Bene Gesserit. She's refused to give him any children, and he suspects it's under orders. But then yet another plot thread is brought up: the lack of water on Arrakis is for no apparent reason, as many wells have hit ground water only to quickly dry up. Yueh brings up how the Harkonnens might know something, but his tone tips Jessica off. So he continues the Magnificent Bastard claim by telling just enough of the truth to placate her, leaving her to conclude that they killed Wanna.

Jessica's starting to have second thoughts about the whole thing, as all the locals seem to hate them. Yueh says they'll come around, but of course he has his own agenda and the narration suddenly clams up on how earnest he's being. Also, she knows Hawat has been spreading the family's money around to ease the transition and make sure the house is safe, though she's perfectly okay with that. She suddenly questions if Leto really loves her, though Yueh quickly talks her around. That was a nice plot cul-de-sac.

Finally, we get a bit on the family rivalry: it's partly that Harkonnen's jealous that Leto is a distant relative of the royal family rather than having to buy his way into power, and an old Atreides had a Harkonnen yellowed after a battle. It's more than a stolen pig, I'll give it that. Also, more on melange: it cures any disease. I'm now ready to take away the MacGuffin label; this stuff is too well-developed for that.

Yueh asks why Jessica hasn't hypnotised Leto into marrying her, and it's both to keep other houses more open to alliance and because she wouldn't be satisfied by it. And she's also put off by his darker side, even wishing his father had died before imprinting it in him. After that moment killer, she instantly changes the subject and leaves, though she suspects Yueh had been hiding something but only to spare her feelings. Everyone in this house thinks they're smarter than they are; that should make for some fun scenes when the whole Thirty Xanatos Pileup starts to play out.

edited 6th Sep '10 6:10:17 PM by Eegah

 
NOT holding a Shoe Phone
That's what I love about Dune : even the apparently mundane conversations have depth and a strong sense of tension, and everyone thinks a few steps ahead. What look like slip-ups are often carefully constructed gambits to fool the other person.
Liveblogging of EP 8 of Umineko no Naku Koro ni to start... sometime.
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