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.

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Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 58: How to Kill Demons from Another Dimension

This is the 58th a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.

How to Kill Demons from Another Dimension, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 28th January 2012

Word count: 546

The story:
When it happens, it always happens fast. If you want to survive, it doesn’t come down to chance, it’s preparedness, if you’re not prepared, you die.

Trust me, I’ve been doing this a lot longer than everyone else.

I got sucked into their dimension years ago, I only got back when they’d already invaded. It’s easier to survive here than it is there. There, they have nearly nothing we would call food. Here there are still homes and shops with food in them.

If you’re hearing me, you must have survived too, you already know this. What you probably don’t know is, I can kill them.

First thing you need to know is, it’s no good once they’re hunting you, when they hunt they are extremely alert,, and even the best weapons won’t harm them. I found this out in their world, I was being hunted and I decided to fight back. I had a rudimentary blade, and as it struck I tried to stab it.

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Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 54: The Killing Ghosts

This is the 54th a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.

The Killing Ghosts, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 24th January 2012

Word count: 697

Theme: alien invasion, resistance, war, survival, humanity, myth, legend

The story:

I got so scared, I felt I was alone facing things that shouldn’t even exist, never mind being in a relatively unimportant city in England. Whether they should be there or not, it was irrelevant.

The day had been going so well, I had a date that night, my job was going well, everything in life was grand. A few months earlier I’d Peru much had nothing to lose, but the day they came, I lost everything important, except my life.

It was mid-September when astronomers first saw the objects in the night sky, they were a wonder, unexplainable, mysterious globes of compressed liquid. Of course we didn’t just assume they were peaceful – though we didn’t even know about brains then. When it was obvious that they were on a collision course with the Blue Planet the US military took control of all efforts in regard. to the strange phenomena. They’re best efforts didn’t even cause the globes of liquid to waver, they kept coming.

Still life went on, the world split into three types of people. First off the were your traditional end of world types, (most figured them for loons, including me at first), then there were eager and excitable scientist types, lastly there was everyone else who couldn’t conceptualise what was happening, it was just this thing in the news. Sure it was the topic of many conversations but we didn’t understand, and it was years away.

So it was quite a shock when the center of Leeds was rocked by an immense exclusion as a globe crashed right into it. I’m told this was only a small one, but I was within five miles of impact it never felt small. It was the advanced unit, there to probe and test how we’d react, the rest of their armada arrived a month later, with sporadic advanced drops in medium cities around the world in between.

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Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 13: For Her, Anything

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.

For Her, Anything, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 14th December 2012

Word count: 991

Theme: end of the work. unknown apocalypse, apocalypse, love, survival, violence, humanity

The story:

Dear Sarah,

Are you out there? Are you well? I worry about you and miss you. I was in London when it happened, I was going to bring you something nice. It’s five months later, five months moving from one wretched town to another, always making my way back home.

When the attack happened it hit central London first. I managed to evacuate. The following day, I broke away from the thousand of refugees, I don’t know why I went a different route, I just did. As did several others, dozens of us, guess it just seemed easier than being shepherded by the army to no one knows where.

Whimsy saved my life, you always said by random decision making would be the death of me, it nearly has three times since then, but that time, it saved me. The attack happened at mid-afternoon, we saw it on the horizon. All those refugees.

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