Monday, April 30, 2007

Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

About 10 years after the events of "Dune Messiah," the children of Emperor Paul Maud'dib are aware of their future and fate of humanity under their guidance. Leto II and Ghanima are young of age but being "pre-born" they have all the knowledge of mankind and prescience vision which allows them to forsee what events will guide humanity. The Golden Path must be followed by one of these children of Maud'dib but which one? The Golden Path is one in which Paul could not take.

In the meantime Dune continues to become "green." Many sections of desert have standing water and clouds can be seen from the Guild's highliners in space. The ecology of Dune is changing to allow growth of plant life. The problem with this is that it could lead to the extinction of Sandworms which are the source of spice and spice is what keeps the the Universe running.

House Corrino is making an attempt at regaining the throne by training tigers to attack Leto & Ghanima and then put Farad'n on the throne. But Farad'n does not really seem to like what is done in his name by his mother. He then banishes his mother upon the arrival of Lady Jessica and Lady Jessica begins training him in the Bene Gesserit way. All this time they are trying to betroth him to Ghanima, who believes the assasination succeeded and killed Leto. Leto, however is seeking out Jacurutu in order to find the Golden Path.

Alia has pushed along the religion of Paul Maud'dib in order to gain power for herself. This is not entirely her doing, because she becomes possessed by the memory of Baron Harkkonen. A mysterious figure makes his appearance in the city to tell the people of the abomination of worshipping Maud'dib. This person is known only as The Preacher. The Preacher however is Paul Maud'dib returned from the desert.

Leto learns that the Golden Path is to transform his human self by merging with the sand trout (the "larvae" of the sandworms).

Once again Frank Herbert creates a novel that continues with the great science-fiction action and intrigue, philosophical discussions and ecological warnings.

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posted by Gil T. @ 7:17 PM Comments: 0

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Thin Red Line by James Jones

I live in the small town of Robinson, Illinois. Back in the mid 80s while I lived there the only claim to fame was that it was home of Heath candy bars. While in the Navy I would buy Heath bars just so I could show my shipmates that my hometown was printed on the back of every wrapper. Sometime in the 90s the Heath plant was bought out by Hershey and now the wrappers just say Hershey....but the town still smells like chocolate year round.

I didn't come back into town until my 15th high school reunion and met what would soon be my wife...yeah, a high school sweetheart marriage. I eventually moved back into town and now work at a small radio station in a neighboring county. Every day I kept noticing this sign which was put on the highway just as you enter town stating Robinson is hometown to author James Jones. This sign was put in place in the year 2000 and the town has pretty much now rallied around being hometown to this author. I was not familiar with who James Jones was, I had heard the name but never read any of his books. I did know he wrote "From Here to Eternity," but I never read the book, it is rather thick and well I really hated the movie. (Maybe the Frank Sinatra as actor is what turned me off.) With the town of Robinson being proud of this author, I thought I'd look into some of his other works.

I immediately went out and rented the 1998 release of "The Thin Red Line," and as far as war movies go, I was impressed. I then looked on paperback swap to find James Jones' books, and found the hardcover of "The Thin Red Line." Now, after reading it, I'm going to tackle some other James Jones books. This book at first was hard to get into, mainly because the perspective of the story changes from person to person as the storyline and battles continue, like a mosquito sampling from each soldier through the campaign to take the island of Guadalcanal during World War II.

The story covers "C for Charlie Company" as they arrive at the island and all the skirmishes against the Japanese over fictionalized hills with names such as "The Dancing Elephant," "The Giant Sea Slug," and "The Giant Boiled Shrimp." The changing perspective of story eventually masterfully achieves a great story line in which all aspects from officers to enlisted men weave into a novel that captures the attention. I felt like I was in the war with these men. I was surprised at the rough language used in the book, I know it is a reality in "war-time" and military personnel but for a book published in 1962, it must have been strong for such a "tame" time period.

If you like war stories, you'll love this one. If you would like to try reading a war story and get a feel for what a soldier feels, you can't go wrong with this book.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:57 PM Comments: 0

Friday, April 20, 2007

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

About 10 years after Paul Muad'Dib gains the throne as Emperor of the Known Universe, the threat of the Jihad in his name still persists in Paul's prescient visions. Paul does everything to keep that Jihad from continuing, because this path can only lead to stagnation of the human race.

In "Dune Messiah" there continues that great Frank Herbert trademark of "plans within plans within plans." So with more patience this book can be very rewarding. The entire "original" Dune series is comparable to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Trilogy, in scope and adventure.

In this book one of the many plots/conspiracies involved is that of reversing the events that led to Paul being emperor. This conspiracy is led by remnants of the displaced House Corrino, the Bene Gesserit who have lost control of their Kwisatz Haderach, the Spacing Guild, now utterly beholden to Paul, and the Bene Tleilax. They all scheme to kill Paul who has not produced an heir to the throne. In doing so a "ghola" of Duncan Idaho is grown by the Bene Tleilax and given as a gift to Paul. (A ghola is a clone, in this case of Duncan Idaho, one of Paul's closest confidants and mentors.) As time progresses it is found that this ghola named Hayt, actually has the memories of Idaho. However Hayt is sent to be the destruction of Paul Maud'Dib.

The reason Chani has not given Paul an heir is that Princess Irulan has been slipping contraceptives into her food. This causes Chani to think she is barren and she seeks out ancient Fremen fertility drugs. This cause her to become pregnant with twins.

At the time Hayt is to kill Paul he cannot do it, his conditioning is broke because of the memories of Duncan's love for Paul and House Atreides. Now an ally Hayt-Duncan, helps to stop the execution of Paul's newborn children.

In the meantime some Fremen Traitors use a Stone Burner to destroy a house that is faithful to the Maud'Dib, causing Paul to be blinded. This furthers the religious fervor behind Paul because with his prescience he can still "see." It is through this prescient vision that Paul thwarts the Tleilaxu face dancer's attempt at killing Paul's 2 children, Leto II and Ghanima. These children are as Paul's sister Alia, in that they are born fully aware of their prescient powers of being Kwisatz Haderach.

After this Paul goes by the way of Fremen tradition, where all the blind shall go to the desert as a sacrifice to Shai Hulud. Alia and Princess Irulan then raise the children to be heirs to the throne when they come of age.

Again this is simply the outer layer of the onion which is the Duneverse. Many plots within plots, plans with in plans and some great philosophical discussions hidden within a science-fiction novel. Next I move to "Children of Dune" be prepared for the ongoing adventures of Dune.

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posted by Gil T. @ 7:20 PM Comments: 0

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dune by Frank Herbert

When Frank Herbert wrote "Dune" in 1965, it was something different. Although Dune was accepted and read by the same circles who read Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, "Dune" represented a new kind of science fiction. Asimov’s and Clarke’s works were original but stylistically plain—all one needed was a futuristic idea. Dune combined the basics of science fiction’s trademark futurism with strong literary and social ambitions. The novel boasted an elaborate epic plot and intricately developed characters with quasi-mystical powers such as telepathy and precognition. It also featured a bold ecological message and even a little sociological equality mission hidden within.

Dune proved that literary science-fiction novels could be more than thinly veiled social satires, such as George Orwell’s 1984 or Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange. Like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Dune presents us with a self-contained world, complete with its own races, religions, politics, and geography. Herbert introduces this new world and then adds a fascinating and intricate story, with vivid characters and scenes bolstered by an underlying ecological message. Dune has become the central masterpiece of science fiction, just as The Lord of the Rings is to the genre of modern fantasy.

Set 10,000 years after the Butlerian Jihad, dune takes place in a future where interstellar travel is achieved through folding space. This travel is not without a price. The universe depends on what is known as Spice Melange. The Spice, prolongs life, gives some individuals prescience, is a highly addictive recreational drug and enables the Guild navigators to Fold Space. The universe has come to rely on Spice so much that the slightest upset in the flow of spice is felt throughout all the universe. The major fault in all this is that the Spice is found only on one planet, Arrakis (Dune).

The Atreides family headed by Duke Leto Atreides, has just been assigned governorship of Arrakis by Emperor Shaddam IV, a position previously held by the sworn enemy to the Atreides, the Harkonnens. As is with all of this book there are plans within plans within plans. The emperor wants to rid the universe of the Atreides because they are becoming too popular with the Landsraad, the league of planets. By sending Duke Atreides to Arrakis, the Emperor hopes to seal their fate and let the Harkonnens destroy House Atreides.

The Harkonnens attack the Atreides and kill the Duke, but not before the Dukes Concubine, Lady Jessica, pregnant with the Duke's daughter, and the Dukes son and heir Paul Atreides escape into the desert of Arrakis, to a land ruled by the Fremen. Before we talk about the Fremen, Paul must be explained. Paul's mother the Lady Jessica is a Bene Gesserit witch, she was ordered to bear a daughter to the Duke but disobeyed to give the man she loved an heir. The Bene Gesserit have been interbreeding bloodlines for thousands of years to create the Kwisatz Haderach, a superbeing that can be in all places and times at once. Paul is that Kwisatz Haderach.

The Fremen are the desert people of Arrakis, they are working to make Dune a planet of life. By secretly creating water basins and plantings, they are wanting to change the face of Dune to a planet with water and abundant life. Doing so could destroy the Sandworms which are the source of the Spice.

Paul becomes the leader of the Fremen due to his supernatural powers and the religion of the Fremen, in a final battle he takes back Dune with himself as Duke and dethrones the Emperor.

That's it in a nutshell, but this book is more like an onion with layers upon layers of plots, subplots and messages. A great classic novel in the literary and Science Fiction worlds.

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posted by Gil T. @ 7:28 PM Comments: 0

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Last 4 minutes of Battlestar Galactica.

Okay First point: What a great season about more questions than we have to wait until 2008??!?!?!?!?

Second the song in the background is "All Along the Watchtower" performed by Bear McCreary the composer for the show. I hope he releases it as a single.

Finally...the song is a BOB DYLAN tune, not a Jimi Hendrix song...Jimi did a cover of it and it was a really good cover but he didn't write it. And worst of all It is not a Dave Matthews cover of a Jimi Hendrix Song. Jeez. get a life folks and learn something.

Watch the last 4 minutes....they are awesome.

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posted by Gil T. @ 2:01 PM Comments: 0

Friday, April 06, 2007

House Corrino (Prelude to Dune book 3) by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson

Book three of the prelude to the original Dune series answers many questions, but also leaves some unanswered, which is good. Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson, to be honest to the Duneverse could not try to explain it all away, that is one of the many features of the Original Dune novels by Frank Herbert that keeps the reader intrigued, and makes the the books more adventuresome, the philosophy is within the reader.

In this book the Emperor of the known Universe, Shaddam IV has devised a plan with his right hand man Hasimir Fenrig, to create a synthetic form of the Spice Melange. In doing so he will hold even more power over the universe. As you may know, the Spice extends life, and makes space travel possible and is only found on one planet, Dune (Arrakis).

On the machine planet, Ix,Tleilaxu "scientists" use slaves and prisoners as part of a horrific plan to manufacture a synthetic form of melange known as amal. If amal can replace the spice from Dune, it will give Shaddam what he seeks: absolute power. However the amal is not quite right. Adjudica the Tleilaxu that has created the amal, has not run adequate testing but has been taking the amal and has been dosing the Sardukar guards with the amal and gains some control over the Emperor's terror guards. Also we learn how the Tleilaxu use women to become living tanks to produce the amal, thus explaining why there are no Tleilaxu women.

Duke Leto Atriedes, grief-stricken yet unbowed by the tragic death of his son Victor, in an assassination attempt is determined to restore the honor and prestige of his House, has his own plans for Ix. He will free the Ixians from their oppressive conquerors and restore his friend Prince Rhombur, injured scion of the disgraced House Vernius, to his rightful place as Ixian ruler. In doing so Leto leaves his home planet of Caladan unguarded. Hearing of this and in order to save face The Beast Rabban (Harkkonen), attempts to conquer Caladan, but the master of assassins and Mentat to House Atriedes, Thufir Howat devises a plan to keep any attackers at bay.

Meanwhile, Duke Leto's concubine, the Lady Jessica, obeying the orders of her superiors in the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, has conceived a child that the Sisterhood intends to be the penultimate step in the creation of an all-powerful being. Yet what the Sisterhood doesn't know is that the child Jessica is carrying is not the girl they are expecting, but a boy. Jessica's act of disobedience is an act of love -- her attempt to provide her Duke with a male heir to House Atreides -- but an act that, when discovered, could kill both mother and baby. Learning of the heir to house Atreides, House Harkkonen's mentat, Pitor Dufries attempts to kidnap the baby.

Like the Bene Gesserit, Shaddam Corrino is also concerned with making a plan for the future -- securing his legacy. Blinded by his need for power, the Emperor will launch a plot against Dune, the only natural source of true spice. If he succeeds, his madness will result in a cataclysmic tragedy not even he foresees: the end of space travel, the Imperium, and civilization itself. With Duke Leto and other renegades and revolutionaries fighting to stem the tide of darkness that threatens to engulf their universe, the stage is set for a showdown unlike any seen before.

This book has a great storytelling and a great culmination of many battles that as you come to the end you won't want to put it down.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:33 PM Comments: 0