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Reading Room

Your quiet and comfy lounge to pick up a great book and discuss sci-fi literature.

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Old Sep 1, 2005, 02:46 AM   #16
Nexus
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Re: Dune

It's very easy to hate the villain straight from the start by combining many what many would consider "horrible" - he's obese, homosexual, a paedophile and...he has ginger hair!
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Old Dec 13, 2005, 02:42 PM   #17
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Re: Dune

Crap, I killed it.
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Old Dec 13, 2005, 02:53 PM   #18
HighWiredSith
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Re: Dune

Ah, I have my chapter one review somewhere...

This was a good intention that collapsed when my job suddenly required me to criss cross the country about a half dozen times. Plent of reading time, not much time to write.

I'll dig it out and post it.
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Old Dec 18, 2005, 07:02 PM   #19
toomuchcoffee
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Re: Dune

I'm interested in learning the differences between Asimov and Herbert's idea of God and people's reasons for believing in God, or for establishing a mythical system of belief. Asimov, just from what I can tell from reading Prelude to Foundation, seems pretty cynical about people's reason for creating and believing in a mythos, whereas I think Herbert might have a somewhat different take on it. I'm not sure, though. I guess I gotta read them both now, to see. I hope trying to learn the difference will be a worthy effort. Asimov seems to have the same belief has Carl Sagan seemed to have, which was that religion is basically born of ignorance and a desire to manipulate the masses, which is not something that I believe, though that certainly plays a part in some instances, I'm sure.
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Old Dec 19, 2005, 09:07 AM   #20
HighWiredSith
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Re: Dune

Ironically, in Asimov's writings, it's science that is used to manipulate the masses. Asmiov was athiestic to the point of ignorance on a lot of ideals concerning the human condition. Perhaps this is why his writings fascinate me so much. He is clearly grasping for an idealology separate from the belief in the divine yet the fact that he searches for it nonetheless ought to tell you something. Why the need, if belief in God is only out of ignorance or a desire for power, to substitue God with other things? Would have loved to ask him that.

The Encyclopedia Galactica was a perfect example of Asimov's subsitution of the capacity of mankind to overcome the darker angels of our nature through belief in diety with a scientifically based inanimate object. In Asimov's mind, it was not humanities soul that would overcome barbarism but knowledge...that enlightenment is somehow directly connected to a lifeless tome of scientific data. This lifeless tome is truly the god of the foundation series, it's worshipped, fought over, and sought after...it's feared and it has the power of salvation. I read his novels, especially his later one's and I see a deep need for something in the place of a belief in God, a very deep need and, in the end, Asmiov, as you have pointed out, became very dark and cynical about this need and belief in it. I can't help but speculate that his substitionairy idealogy when it came right down to it was never quite adequate.
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Old Dec 19, 2005, 09:16 AM   #21
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Re: Dune

As for Hebert, I admittedly have only read three of his books (as oppsoed to Issac Asimov's dozens). Herbert was the first SF I read that blended mysticism with hard science fiction and was definately a direct influence on Lucas's universe. However, it seems clear that Herbert's god (unlike Lucas's Force), is of the Judeo-Christian variety with a hefty dose of Islam tossed in for good measure. Herbert's fremen, imho, were drawn from Arabic cultures, their belief systems ground firmly in the challenges of every day life, the need for water, the constant battle with their environment. I think Herbert made it clear that one can't be in a constant struggle with nature and not come away with a clear idealology about God, that culture and religion are drawn out of a need to maintain an equilabrium with our surroundings.

Unlike Asimov who believed that true enlightenment and salvation was to found only when God was tossed away, Herbert seemed to believe that humanity at it's core is a stuggle between the elemental forces of this world and that struggle defines us and our beliefs.
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Old Dec 19, 2005, 09:18 AM   #22
HighWiredSith
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Re: Dune

Nice to have you back TMC...make me use my brain this early in the morning.
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Old Dec 19, 2005, 04:01 PM   #23
toomuchcoffee
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Re: Dune

Maybe I'll read Asimov first, then. I was trying to decide between Herbert and Asimov. Herbert's universe has very strong appeal to me, but I've already read Preludeand that reading makes me think that Asimov might as well. I'll just try to plow through Asimov since I already started from him and see what I can learn or get from it.
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Old Dec 19, 2005, 04:23 PM   #24
HighWiredSith
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Re: Dune

As much as I love Dune I simply can't manage to get through the series. Dune Messiah is good but Children of Dune and those that follow are considerably inferior to the original. For one thing, the series jumps ahead a thousand years and loses all sense of coherency with the loss of the main characters.

Three years ago I read Asimov's entire furture history (the one we were discussing in the Star Wars forums) from Caves of Steel to Foundation and Earth in about three months. The series is a wonderful study on the influences of culture on science fiction because some of the books were written in the 50's and others in the 80's and 90's.
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Old Dec 19, 2005, 04:25 PM   #25
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Re: Dune

All right. I'm gonna read them, then. I got through Prelude in just a couple of days, so it shouldn't take me too long.
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Old Dec 20, 2005, 10:24 AM   #26
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Re: Dune

Quote:
Originally posted by HighWiredSith
I think Herbert made it clear that one can't be in a constant struggle with nature and not come away with a clear idealology about God, that culture and religion are drawn out of a need to maintain an equilabrium with our surroundings.
I agree that the idea of God, and a clear idea at that, can come from a struggle against the environment - and a prolonged struggle against anything. Struggle is possibly the main driver for the creation of the idea in the first instance - that in order for the leader of the tribe to maintain control of his people in the face of adversity he had to act as though with higher guidance, to calm the masses, to give them hope, to give the tribe guidance.

Lucas' Force is different in that this was not seemingly borne out of a struggle - and the religion elements are borne out of respect for a tangible, material, quantifiable entity rather than anything else.

But Herbert's books start from the point at which religion already exists, and is an accepted way, and Herbert then uses the religion elements. I don't think he's saying anything in his early books (Dune, Dune Messiah) that even hints at his views of religion as an overall concept. He doesn't say it's right or it's wrong, or even how religion starts, or ends. Religion is just there.

Herbert, though, does lead to more interesting views of the role, purpose, origins of religion in his later books but, not having read these last few in the Dune series for a while, I was never clear if he was saying that rulers manipulate religion to their own uses, or if the ruler manipulates the people through construction of the religion in the first instance.

But it is clear that he felt religion has its place in the world, and that it offers what is needed to those that need it, but also that it is something to be wary of.

I think this was mirroring his own life where he was raised into a religious family (Catholic, if memory serves) but later moved away to Buddhism - which has no deity but offers a kind of spiritual way.

Quote:
Unlike Asimov who believed that true enlightenment and salvation was to found only when God was tossed away, Herbert seemed to believe that humanity at it's core is a stuggle between the elemental forces of this world and that struggle defines us and our beliefs.
Asimov certainly thought intelligence was the key and the way to improvement - but interestingly it was the creations of man that reached those levels, that were the truly enlightened ones, driven off 3 simple rules.

IMO, though, the start contrast between Asimov and Herbert is in the colour of their Universes - with Herbert, the more accepting of religion, knowing how it is used by the masses, and used by those in power, and knowing the power it can have (the power of a prophecy, for example), able to weave a rich tapestry that to me has always been lacking in Asimov's rather cold, modernistic worlds.
Where Herbert draws on the rich myths and religions of the past, Asimov seems to draw on modernistic architecture of cold straight lines. Where Herbert fills his rooms with culture and imagery, Asimov's rooms are a desk and a chair.
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Old Mar 10, 2006, 05:02 PM   #27
toomuchcoffee
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Re: Dune

I just listened to the first chapter of my audio book version of Dune while lifting weights (I'm not trying to impress anyone by saying that, I look sort of like what Jim Morrison looked like with the beer belly [minus the cool beard, long hair], so I have a ways to go, yet) and I realized that Dune really is a good book. I really believe that it has a lot to say. One thing I can't figure out is why Paul says he suspects he has a "terrible purpose." Why "terrible"?

I liked everything else, especially the line where Paul said that he felt that he could ask the reverend mother anything and her answer would make him feel above the ordinary, or something like that. I really like the idea of being chosen from among the animals. I really do believe that that's how life is. I think most people are average and fall into the trap of living in a mind shaft of a life without realizing it because the people they surround themselves by live in the mind shaft too and thereby support the illusion. Without the privilage of an early education, getting out of that mind shaft takes considerable time and discipline. But, anyway, so I can understand how somebody's words can feel like a lift from mediocrity. I don't think everybody is incapable of achieving greater things, but some people definitely have a harder time at it.

Last edited by toomuchcoffee : Mar 10, 2006 at 05:17 PM.
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Old Mar 12, 2006, 05:03 PM   #28
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Re: Dune

I suppose "terrible" because he will be able to break down established institutions of authority, "terrible" perhaps because the result would give Paul power over the establishment of a new world order, or something like that. "Terrible" because of the immense power to destroy and/or heal.
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Old Mar 13, 2006, 07:14 AM   #29
Jove
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Re: Dune

Aye - "terrible" as in "ability to invoke terror" - not "stinking / awful / bad" kind of terrible.

Well, that's how I always understood it, as soon as I realised that someone like Herbert generally chooses his words carefully.

Anyhoo - which audio-book version have you got?
I did the odd thing, some years ago, of recording the VHS video onto cassette - sound only - and now play that in the car on long journeys.
Because I've seen the film so often I can picture every scene and basically can "watch" the film while I drive.

The only problem is the recording quality is pretty poor - so I'm going to have to redo it.

I did it for Star Wars as well - but sometimes the adrenaline of the fight above Yavin made me drive too fast!!
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Old Mar 13, 2006, 04:44 PM   #30
toomuchcoffee
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Re: Dune

That would happen to me, too, so I'll avoid Star Wars.

The recording I have is here . I'm really impressed by the guy (George Guidall) reading it. Each voice he does is noticably different from other characters.

Last edited by toomuchcoffee : Mar 13, 2006 at 07:28 PM.
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