Sunday, October 4, 2009
I WISH I KNEW HOW TO QUIT YOU
THE WINDS OF DUNE:
FRANK HERBERT AND KEVIN J. ANDERSON
Have you ever been in a relationship that you knew had run its course and should have ended a long time ago? You know, the one where you're both sitting on the couch, watching TV and you simultaneously look at each other and say "what?" in an unnecessarily acidic way. The one where you sit at the kitchen table during meal times and let the pregnant silence smother you both with her fat (but still sexy) ass. The one where you have sex every Tuesday night because, well, it's Tuesday night and that's what you do on Tuesday night. Pump, pump, clean up. Of course when you wake up Wednesday morning you're just as unfullfilled, angry and resentful with the relationship as you were prior to the scheduled board meeting you now call sex. I've had two of those relationships in my life and, in my own defence, one of them was actually with a human female. It usually takes a long time to end this type of mutual torture and the means of termination typically involves one person committing an act so heinous that it destroys any trust that may have existed between the parties. For one of my relationships, that act was her cheating on me (bitch). For the other, it was the writing of a book.
The Winds of Dune is written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. It is the third in a series of books which proports to "finish" the original Dune series that was so masterfully composed by the late Frank Herbert. Before I go any further I need to make an admission: I enjoyed, to different levels, Herbert and Anderson's previous efforts which are the series of three prequels and the the three books comprising the Legends series. They didn't approach anything close to Herbert Sr.'s brilliance but they were decent, somewhat entertaining reads. Given the fact that they take place during times that aren't specifically discussed in the original epic, they tend to stand on their own and, in fact, I view them as a totally separate, original works by the two authors. The new series however, where Herbert and Anderson fill in the blanks of the originals, is nothing short of disasterous. By deciding to play mad-libs with Frank's work of staggering genius, they have managed to permanently taint a relationship that spanned hundreds of galaxies and thousands of years. Brian inherited his father's last name, unfortunately he didn't inherit his talent.
The Winds of Dune takes place in the time between Frank Herbert's Dune Messiah and Children of Dune. For those of you that aren't familiar with the Dune series (you should be ashamed) Frank frequetly left gaps in between the books in the series. Sometimes these gaps were a few years, sometimes they were hundreds or thousands of years. Whether Frank intended on returning to the series prior to his death and writing the story of these gaps will remain a subject of some debate as I refuse to believe that he intended for his son to lovingly sodomize these particular holes. Winds deals with one of the smaller gaps wherein Paul Muad'Dib has disappeared into the desert leaving behind his two orphaned children, who are to be his heirs, and his sister Alia who acts as Regent until the children come of age. Instead of taking the logical approach and dealing with trials and tribulations of raising two gifted, orphaned children and running the imperium, Herbert and Anderson inexplicably decide to focus on The Regency and the conflict that Alia is attempting to resolve with Bronso of Ix. As Bronso is the peddler of disinformation about the deification of Muad'Dib, Alia is single minded and cruel in her pursuit of the rebel. But they don't really focus on that either. True, they do one of their patented flashbacks to establish the origin of the conflict and "flesh out" a character that really contibutes very little to the series, but in the end it falls short. Instead they decide to focus on the Duchess Jessica Atredies and her challenges, both past and present, of running her Duchy, the ever changing relationship with her daughter Alia and her efforts to do the right thing regarding her deceased son.
I think part of the beauty of Frank's story was that he left those gaps in his work, only hinted at events that occured and let your imagination fill in the rest. There is none of that in Herbert and Anderson's interpretation. You are not allowed to use your imagination and you are not allowed to question any of the events in the story. There are no hints, there are no surprises, there are no moments when you say to yourself "Oh, so that's why this plot point in Children is the way it is". You are told everything that the authors want you to know and they leave no room for interpretation. Honestly, it's like they're explaining their writing and their story to Hellen Keller while she's got her hands tied behind her back. If you're going to take that approach to storytelling you had better at least make the story compelling and engrossing and trust me, it is neither.In fact these guys weild subtility like your Friday night date waiting for you stark naked in the dinning room while you prepare dessert. You know exactly what he/she (maybe both if you roll that way) wants and there is no mystery as to what the package may contain.
For example, the introduction to part III of the book states the following: "Two months after the end of Muad'Dib's reign. Regent Alia struggles to cement her control over the Imperium." It is at this point where I decided I had to end it. These guys just don't respect me anymore. Do you really have to explain to me that there would be a power vacuum and the incoming Regent would have difficulty conrolling the government when the god damn Emperor of The Universe dies? Do you really need to describe the possible consequences of every bad decision that Alia makes? Do you have to explain that some people are still upset with Muad'Dib and his Jihad that slaughtered billions of people and might therefore still hold a grudge? Fuck you assholes, I don't need this. I'm going to go find somebody that treats me properly and speaks to me like I am an intelligent and fully capable adult.
I suppose I knew that the relationship was faltering when I read Hunters of Dune. I think I knew I should end it with the publication of Paul of Dune but the Duniverse is just so comfortable and familiar. But then they betrayed my trust with The Winds of Dune. A book that is poorly written, shoddily thought out and executed like a death row inmate with a dry sponge; ugly. This book has no reason to exist and I sincerely hope that Frank Herbert was cremated as I would hate to think that his own son keeps digging up his body to teabag whatever is left of his legacy. This book took me over a month to read which has never happened to me before and it made me feel dirty, self-concious and caused me pain every time I picked it up. This is the last straw, the ending of a relationship that has spanned two decades, fifteen books and given me an enormous amount of joy. But really , for the last few years, it has caused me nothing but pain and misery and I know now that it's not going to change. Please don't be mad Brian and Kevin; it's not you it's me, I love you but I'm not in love with you and all those other clichès. On second thought, fuck you guys! It is you and I hope I never see you taint ticklers again. I am not going to be your whore anymore! I'm out!
Frank, baby, we'll always have our memories. I only hope you can rest in peace with your son's sack slapping you in the chin.