Dune – A Tour De Force in Science Fiction

So my previous post was meant to go very differently, it was meant to go very differently, but I decided to focus on the conversion of stories across different mediums. So now we’re back again, and I’m going to see if I can say something intelligent and worthwhile about Dune. I honestly don’t think I can do it justice, but good news it’s my blog, and JL has thoughts to share in spades.

Be warned, spoilers ahead – I’ll make sure there’s a cut in before we get to anything too spoilery.

So…. Dune, the book series by Hugo and Nebula award winning Frank Herbert (Franklin Patrick Herbert Jr.), and it’s easily one of my favourites – I dare say the first book Dune is probably my favourite piece of fiction of all time,.

I still remember my dad giving me the book, I’d been ill, again I think (my memory isn’t always as reliable as I’d like it to be, unlike the Kwisatz Haderach in the story itself), I must have been eleven at the time. At eleven how much of it I could follow is probably debatable, but it’s such a rich story and world that as I grew my understanding and appreciation of it grew with me.

Without going into spoilers, Dune is a series book about the distant future of humanity as it’s spread among the stars. It features themes of survival, power, religion, ecology, economy and evolution, and collectively is a treatise on the human condition as interfaces with the world.

It’s probably the daddy of the epic science fiction, the first book being one of George Lucas’ inspirations for Star Wars. Before it, the idea of so deep a sci-fi story was  rarity. It’s scope is so massive, dealing with from tens of thousands of years into humanity’s future, and the series covers thousands of years from that point onward. The series covers a span of time nearly as great as recorded history today, and the time before the series begins isn’t just dead time, it has a whole back story that you learn as you read through, with many of the functions of future humanity coming about in the thousands of years preceding the books.

Unlike Star Wars, they’re not action orientated – there is some satisfying action in them, but it’s very tactical based, and fleeting, just to support the movement of the story. In fact, overall they’re some of the most dialogue laden stories out there.

So, in short if you like a detailed grand epic science fiction… there’s an awful lot to love. And if you want to go further than the original series Frank Herbert’s son Brian and Kevin J Anderson (who is a major contributor to the Star Wars universe), they’re a lot cleaner writing so easier to read, and some elements maybe didn’t need an explanation, but they do bring the whole thing together at the end and finish of the story in a way Frank Herbert wasn’t able to do before his death, and they do add to the grand richness of the universe created in Dune.

So much to love, the books can be hard to read at times, and you find yourself trying to hold on to factoids, stories,  and ideas as you’ll need them later for reference when something else happens. They’re not a casual reads, but well worth your time.

So that’s a general look at Dune… from here there may be spoilers – somethings I have in my mind to say just can’t avoid it. If you’ve not read the books  go check them out, Frank Herbert’s original series are also all available on Audible if you want an easier time (well read by Simon Vance, Euan Morton,  Orlaigh Cassidy and several others bring the books to life, and they’re unabridged.

Continue reading

The Book Isn’t Always Mightier Than The Adaptation

Okay before I get lynched by fans Harry Potter/Twilight/LOTR/Hunger Games/Da Vinci Code/and just about any story with fans, moving from medium to medium requires change and its not a new phenomenon, nor is it new that people are upset by changes. I’m not here to argue that as films are better than their source material, or even good, my argument is that its only bad one for version to be incomplete without the other.

Ancient History

So, I’ve spent a long term over the years studying texts that were originally part of oral traditions, but over Millennia were converted from a spoken medium to a written medium. The transformation of the oldest stories is fascinating, and if our current culture existed then, a whole lot of people would have been stoned for some form of blasphemy in the conversion of stories as the historical game of Chinese whispers that is oral tradition.

Actually, as it happens, people have died for presenting unfaithful accounts of history and legends. So I guess modern sensibilities aren’t so modern, just less extreme and more easily reported and repeated.

The earliest known stories came from the Lascaux caves in Southern France, it is a series of images progressing through a time period, covering the rituals and the hunt of the people at the time, it’s a story. It’s worth noting that spoken language of some variety probably came about somewhere between 100,000 and 60,000 years ago,  so I’d like to think the story telling was around long before someone thought to record it on a wall.  Continue reading

Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 36: Cloud of Gold

This is the 36th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.

Cloud of Gold, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 6th January 2012

Word count: 740

Theme: race, space, long distance, discipline, mixed nuts

The story:

“Okay, everyone before we all catch some rack time, let’s have go over the plan,” ordered the Captain of the Cloud of Gold, a long distance racing ship,

Everyone groaned, but did as they were bid. The race meant everything, and each knew that really, if they missed anything, they would suffer for it later, still it was tiresome.

The captain activated the holomap which sat in the centre of the room, it illuminated and spread out to fill a space five feet by five feet. “We’re here, on the Ursula straight,” he pointed at a line that illuminated as he finger intersected it, “We’re on the straight for another two days, we’re high burning it.”

Continue reading

Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 9: Light Speed

This is the eighth in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing from 2nd December 2012 until the 1st December 2013. It’s intent is to keep me writing throughout the year, and not just in November. you can find out more about the challenge here.

Light Speed, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 10th December 2012

Word count: 1,000

Theme: random acts of violence, crazy, anthropomorphic animals, revenge

The story:

Captain Twigg stood up from his chair, faced the camera’s squarely and held out his hand.

“Next stop…” he held a pause for longer than was comfortable, “Alpha Centauri.”

It was all horribly contrived to Second Lieutenant Carlisle, who was sat two meters away, facing away from the cameras, gladly. He considered it an honour to be on board human kind’s first manned faster than light ship, but he also knew far too much about the cluster fuck this mission had already become. For now he must focus on the mission, those were his orders.

Without skipping a beat he reported on time, “Vector eighteen, three hundred kilometres per second.”

“Hmm…” the captain sat back in his chair thoughtfully, “We need to go faster.”

“Increase velocity, thrusters to maximum, helm,” first lieutenant Jordan Sinclair ordered.

“We’re on schedule,” the Second Lieutenant pointed out, wary not only of the mission parameters that called for no heroics in testing the new engines, but also the thought of being stranded where no one could come rescue them.

“We’re going beyond human knowledge, Second Lieutenant,” the Captain stressed the Lieutenant’s rank, “The people of Earth aren’t looking for safety, they want to see us fly high. The collective breaths of an entire world are holding on to see what we can do, let’s not let them suffocate,” all the time looking at the camera. Second Lieutenant Carlisle realised this would go in his blog tonight, an tale of the Captain’s bravery in the face of the cowardice of his underling.

Continue reading