Review: The Road to Dune

Hello everyone!

I know it’s been far too long. I should really get to updating this more regularly. Anyway, the past few weeks (months?) have seen me take a trip to Melbourne, where I picked up a few more books and spent my days blissfully immersed in the culture and amazing culinary delights of the capital city. It was also freezing and very wet, so it was almost a reprieve to return to the warm climes of Brisbane (although my immediate need for air conditioning when I got off the plane would tell you otherwise).

Work has been keeping me suitably busy too, and as a result I’ve had very little time to write since the conclusion of July’s Camp NaNo in which I managed to smash a goal of 15,000 words on Dreamchaser, the second book in the ‘Verse Chronicles (working titles). I’ve since grabbed a copy of the ever lauded Scrivener software, and it’s been surprisingly helpful in my efforts to rekindle my daily writing habits. Sometimes a change of pace really is all you need.

To the review! The Road to Dune, written by Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson, is a collaborative companion to the Dune series (the first book, Dune, published in 1965 and written by Frank Herbert). This treasure trove of information speaks of many things, including Herbert’s worldbuilding process for the Dune series, many short stories and spinoffs, character information and inspiration, and even excerpt from letters between Herbert and his editors on the concepts driving the Dune series. As someone who has only read the first novel in the six-book sci-fi series, I did encounter a few spoilers about the following books. That didn’t bother me too much, though, because the series itself is so complex that it needs a guide.

What did I really like about this? It’s attention to detail. I’ve read a few companion books in the past, but none of them really give you an insight into the author’s mind like The Road to Dune did. It mirrors the detail given to the world construction in the Dune series, and even clears up some of the more confounded ideas. Since Dune focuses heavily on political manoeuvres, its easy to get lost and forget who’s doing what. That’s a quality which originally drew me into the series, but eventually I began wondering if I needed to keep a timeline. The companion clears that up, and points out how some of the characters were meant to serve different roles than what they ended up doing.

What else stood out? In particular, the longevity of the Dune series. One thing I’ve heard many readers say is that although they liked the book/series, it felt too long and drawn out. It reminds me in some ways of the “too many sequels” problem that some perfectly good movies suffer from, where over time some of the original content becomes mired in too many layers of meaning and it loses its charm. The first book of Dune still holds its attraction for me, but after reading the development within the companion, it seems that the whole cult following that Paul Atriedes creates is… perhaps taken too far. Then again, maybe that’s a reflection on how humanity deals with things like that. Take something and run with it, until it loses steam, then pick up something else. It’s a perpetual cycle, and its definitely reflected well in Dune and in the following works spotlighted in The Road to Dune.

There’s not much more to say on that point. I was reading this book in between reading Dune and a bunch of other novels, including Skeins Unfurled by K.M. Vanderbilt, so progress has been very slow. Next on my review list will be Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, which I picked up some time ago from a secondhand book sale and am already enamoured with. Along with that, I’ll be working on some language details for the ‘Verse Chronicles, so stay tuned for conlang developments!

That’s all from me. Don’t stop reading!

AdmiralCarter

 

 

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