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Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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It's not like there's all that much that's original to Dune, either. The novel works as well as it does because it's stylization elevates/disguises what is otherwise a rote plot.

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Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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Mulva posted:

No, it's study hard and take transhumanist drugs.

You also needed to do meditation and yoga.

One of the premises of the book is that 60s new age bullshit actually works.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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Jewmanji posted:

God Emperor is so weird. It blows my mind that itís many peopleís favorite entry. I admit the whole golden path thing went totally over my head at the end so that was a bit deflating, but Letoís extemporizing gets so so so tiresome, especially when you know that itís all sort of bland platitudes. Itís also real weird to have the book be almost entirely centered on the antagonist, and give short shrift to Siona. The balance was off.

By most literary measures God Emperor is not good, but it is weird, and genuine weirdness is about as uncommon in scifi as good writing.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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Mulva posted:

Also the dude needed to stop trying to make Duncan Idaho happen.

I think by the last books his relevance was he was immune to the antagonists magic gently caress powers or some poo poo. Like why is this nobody that never accomplished anything in thousands and thousands of years of clones still showing up in the future?

Aside from being a measuring stick for how much things have changed between books, the joke with the character is that he's supposedly a one-of-a-kind bad rear end knife fighter and that fact is never relevant. In Dune he's gets to be cool for a hot second before being shot. In Messiah, he's only useful to anyone because Paul liked the guy when he was alive the first time. In Children, he provokes a fight, which would be the thing he's good at, only to purposefully get himself killed to provoke a political situation. In the later books, he's useful primarily because he's been cloned enough that he's become a well understood template human.

He's supposedly this exemplar of human skill but he is always someone else's tool.

Edit: I probably should have spoilered this.

Schwarzwald fucked around with this message at 22:18 on Feb 4, 2020

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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Arglebargle III posted:

While the books certainly convey the impression that Frank Herbert's mind was disintegrating from heavy drug use, and that assumption would be reasonable for a new age sci-fi author who gained acclaim in the late 60s and then coasted on it through the 70s and 80s, I can't find any evidence for that supposition. In fact Frank Herbert didn't start making real money off of Dune until the '70s. He wrote something like 20 novels over his career and some of them were apparently pretty bad.

Oh well!

The Godmakers is a fascinating early work of his because its basically "what if Dune, except written in the style of Asimov's kid books."

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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I saw the thread title and started laughing again.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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The_Doctor posted:

They fixed it!



Wasn't that the original?

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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Prolonged Priapism posted:

Or maybe they dropped the concept entirely, and the focus on edged weapons is presented as a cultural thing.

That honestly wouldn't be the worst.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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Presumably along with that change they'd also shoot at each other more.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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david_a posted:

This seems to be one of his better regarded non-Dune books; are there others that people would recommend?

I'd recommend any Dune fan read his The Godmakers. It's starts as generic "gee whiz" scifi sorta halfway between Asimov and Jack Vance and segues into proto-Dune around midway through. It ain't his finest work by any stretch, but it's fascinating on a level of "oh, that's how he developed this idea!"

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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Jewmanji posted:

It was a Cold War arms race, except in this case the nuclear weapon became sentient and went rogue.

Dune: The Forbin Project

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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I came all the way from Caladan and boy are my arms tired!

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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Arglebargle III posted:

You will be taken from here and brought to the prison planet of Selusa Secundus, there to live out the remainder of your natural life.

I gotta tell ya, you House Corrino folk are a real tough crowd.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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Rando posted:

I have a hard time coming to grips with the fact I live in a world that has trailers for trailers.

The hype must flow.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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AlternateAccount posted:

Which is weird though, because uhhh... Crusades were absolutely a thing and I am not sure thatís a ďgentlerĒ word.

It's not gentler but the connotations are different.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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Babysitter Super Sleuth posted:

I think the implication was that the Spacing guild acquired all of their spice off the books, because they can just blockade anyone who tried to out them, so nobody even knew they were a big consumer of it, much less that spice was the key ingredient to the navigators ability to perform space folding.

In addition to that, the guild has a monopoly on space travel. No one would be surprised to learn that they have a lot of spice, since spice is used as a form of currency and the guild is incredibly wealthy.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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Jewmanji posted:

Iím surprised the movie didnít combine Duncan and Gurney into a single character. They barely make sense as individuals in the book, but it feels like one character too many without enough differentiation for a film. I remember when reading Dune for the first time getting constantly tripped up between the two characters- there just doesnít seem to be a narrative reason for both to exist.

It all part of the Arthuriana/Matters of France thing Atreides have going on. They're a noble house of gallant knights right out of Camelot or Charlemagne's paladins, and colorful characters like Duncan and Gurney are supposed to emphasize that. They're like Roland or Ogier and the like.

This all plays into the whole thing with Duke Leto being betrayed in his appointed duty of ruling Arrakis and his son Paul instead falling in with the Fremen and waging a Jihad.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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Michelangelo had a "storage shell" with nunchukus, grappling hook, and room for pizzas back in '91. It's a bad sign that Gurney Halleck doesn't even come with one ninja star.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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Babysitter Super Sleuth posted:

Yeah, iirc the studio wanted to say in marketing that they had alternate cuts for all of the Allen movies in their big megabox collection, and offered Scott a (presumably large) amount of money to just gently caress around for a bit and make a different cut they could use.

Only registered members can see post attachments!

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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EL BROMANCE posted:

Ah see the problem is, scripts have dialogue in them.

Truly an unforced error.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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phasmid posted:

Thing is, I wouldn't want to include Prometheus at all. It's so far removed from the original movies I don't see why they didn't make it it's own thing (I know, yeah, brand recognition).

It's effectively the third in a trilogy with Alien and Blade Runner.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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phasmid posted:

The Jihad was against "machine thinking", not robot armies.

One of the more interesting ideas in the Dune Encyclopedia was that the big failing of pre-Butlerian society was over-centralization. Human's had occupied an incredibly vast array of space, but were dependent on individual super computers (and communication with those super computers) to handle space travel. When the Jihad took them out, extraplanetary civilization collapsed.

It suggests a different interpretation of "machine thinking" and Leto's motives: concern of an over reliance on singular technologies and institutions which must eventually fail.

As for the Matrix, I think at some point you just have to accept that you're dealing with a metaphor for Gnosticism and that whatever good reason it would exist are secondary to that.

Schwarzwald fucked around with this message at 05:08 on Nov 11, 2020

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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Alchenar posted:

The quote in the book is:

"Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them."

I don't think the original books say anything about what happens between that moment and the rule 'don't make machines that can think like people you idiots' coming into force, but it fits the themes of the series more closely if the Jihad is about people who tried to stifle humanity's freedom in aid of some grand design rather than it being the Terminator Wars.

It's also important to note that a wide scale abandonment of thinking machines did not lead to freedom, but only to enslavement by men who had the infrastructure (ie: spice) to maintain interplanetary control in the absence of thinking machines. Likewise, the Jihad did nothing to end stagnation or human programming, with the Bene Gesserit and Bene Tleilax both practice forms of human programming, and the Mentat effectively being purposely programmed humans produced to be bought by the aristocracy.

This ties into Leto covertly promoting the redevelopment of thinking machines. They were never the real problem.

Schwarzwald fucked around with this message at 00:46 on Nov 12, 2020

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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PeterWeller posted:

This is true. But it's also important to note that the powers that come to enslave humanity again are human powers derived from previously untapped human potentials,

That's a difference without a distinction. A nation ruling through its programmed robot armies and computer advisors and a great house ruling through its patriotic (or religiously indoctrinated!) armies and Mentat/Bene Gesserit/psychic advisors are the same. Likewise, compare Siona's vision with the descriptions of the Fremen in Paul's Jihad.

The point of the Butlerian Jihad as a device is to highlight how robotic the humans are.

Schwarzwald fucked around with this message at 01:55 on Nov 12, 2020

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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PeterWeller posted:

To the people enslaved, sure. But in thematic terms, it's a huge distinction. In the former case, the ruling humans have surrendered their power to their machines. In the latter case, they have expanded their own powers. In the former case, the ruling humans are just humans with things. In the latter case, they are superhumans.

[...]

You could certainly make a point that Dune shows humanity as robotic in the sense that humans can be "programmed." But taking that as the whole point of the Jihad or even a major point of the series misses the forest for the trees. Consider how that "programming" occurs: through demagoguery, propaganda, myths, and legends. All are distinctly human powers, and all are major anxieties in the series. And it's important to consider that Dune is very much a critique of and warning against these powers. Humans can be "programmed" in Dune, but they can also resist it. The series is telling you to be suspicious of these attempts to "program" you.

Well, wait a minute. Is the difference between ruling through machines or ruling though superpowers a huge thematic distinction or is the similarity between the two a major point of the series?

I don't feel like it can be both.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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PeterWeller posted:

I specifically said that the comparison between humans and machines in the sense that humans can be "programmed" is not a major point of the series. Hence the scare quotes. I was saying, sure you could read it that way, but I don't think that's the way you should read it. I then ran with the metaphor to point to how I think you should read it, that one needs to be skeptical of heroes, demagogues, propaganda and legends. That's not "programming"; that's persuasion. And even if you want to think of it in terms of "programming", the point would that humans aren't like computers because they have agency and can choose whether or not to follow it. Jessica has a son. Yueh's conditioning is broken. The Fremen are skeptical of Paul. Hayt doesn't kill Paul. Hwi doesn't betray Leto. Etc.

And humans having agency and choice is definitely an important point in Dune, but the novel doesn't use a comparison with machines to make that point. The Mother Superior asks Paul if he's a human or an animal, not if he's a human or a computer.

It's a point of irony that the characters do not draw that connection. Most of the institutions in Dune are explicitly dominating, with state-sponsored terrorism, political assassination, and even explicit mind control all being relatively routine. But! At least they took care of that thinking machine problem some time back! otherwise humans might be enslaved! The Butlerian Jihad itself is a tool of human control, and by saying "one needs to be skeptical of heroes, demagogues, propaganda and legends" only to follow that up with "that's not 'programming;' that's persuasion," it to buy into the very propaganda the story wants you to be skeptical of.

Thinking machines and machine-thinking are bad, but Mentats and propaganda corps are good, how else would you run an empire/control the humans?

(Again, part of Leto 2's golden path involves overcoming the cultural fear of thinking machines and promoting their development. Thinking-machines were never the problem.)

So no, the Mother Superior wouldn't ask if Paul was a machine. Her ideological blindspots are such that she wouldn't think to make such a comparison, because if she could she'd need to ask hard questions of herself.

Note the Bene Gesserit's view of Jessica. She most strongly asserts her humanity when she places her love of Duke Leto over her Bene Gesserit conditioning, but the Bene Gesserit ó despite professing a great love of humanness ó celebrate Jessica for coming back into the fold in her later life. Humans do have agency and choice, and the Bene Gesserit ultimately view that as a problem. They want humans (including themselves!) to be as controllable as if they were machines, even if most would never phrase it in those terms. The ideal Bene Gesserit is as enslaved to their heterodoxy as much as the ideal non-Bene Gesserit is enslaved to them.

There's also a point of irony in the Gom Jabbar scene. In proving Paul "human," the Mother Superior places the Bene Gesserit in the role of the trapper. And in submitting to becoming the Kwisatz Haderach, Paul and Leto would go on to coopt and break the power of the Bene Gesserit just as they would every other prominent institution, removing a threat to human kind.

Schwarzwald fucked around with this message at 19:12 on Nov 12, 2020

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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PeterWeller posted:

I think it's more the opposite, that, in keeping with Herbert's affinity for New Age mysticism in general and General Semantics in particular, humans can and should make machines unnecessary. It's open your third eye, tap into your untapped potentials, and all that jazz.

That's another irony of the setting. The attempt to subvert "machine thinking" through pursuing personal enlightenment only succeeded in establishing a different form of enslavement.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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PeterWeller posted:

Having explicitly dominating systems of power doesn't equate humans with machines. It acknowledges that humans have ways and means of dominating each other with or without machines.

Exactly. The machines aren't the problem.

PeterWeller posted:

You can certainly argue that the Bene Gesserit wish to control humans as if they were machines, but the novels don't endorse that goal or state it in those terms.

I disagree. The novel is presented as a semi-historical document, and so the characters and implied historians (such as Princess Irulan) do not state it in those terms. However, the conceit of a historical Butlerian Jihad exists precisely to highlight the ways the institutions (not just the Bene Gesserit, but the Guild, the Ixians, the Tleilaxu, the Padishah Empire, etc.) in the setting are machine-like and the ways certain characters exhibit "machine-thinking." The Butlerian Jihad is the novel stating that in those terms.

Schwarzwald fucked around with this message at 21:50 on Nov 12, 2020

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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PeterWeller posted:

I've already explained why I think the Butlerian Jihad exists as a historical event in the novels

Sure, but why is it a historical event? What function does it serve in the story? It's not relevant to the plot, and as far as excuses for the aesthetic any number of other conceits would have worked as well. But when you add in the intergalactic feudalism, suddenly it has this thematic significance. Now you have "thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind" coexisting with these humans emulating computer data processors and "humanity had allowed itself to be enslaved by machines" alongside humans plotting to maintain and expand dominion.

phasmid posted:

However, if we're going to bring God Emperor into the mix (written about 20 years later, Herbert might've rethought some stuff) we also have to point out that Leto's reaction to A.I. is that it's hogwash. He is visibly amused that the Bene Gesserit are afraid of the possibilities of "computers with human minds". Maybe this indicates that the machines of the past were not so advanced as all that (sometime truth-teller Piter de Vries called them "toys").

Leto's talk with Siona is illustrative. He doesn't say "do not fear machines" but "do not fear the Ixians." Siona's seeking machines, were they to exist, would be an existential problem only in the sense that planet busting nukes are (which do exist in the setting, but which no one loses sleep over). They're a weapon which someone has to design, build, and set lose, which would makes the Ixian the danger (if Leto hadn't defanged them). Siona misidentified the real threat.

(Although Siona's vision of humanity in danger from inhuman psychic destroyers could easily be interpreted to mean Leto.)

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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Libluini posted:

The books themselves say the exact opposite of this!

The books provide very little evidence on what the Butlerian Jihad entailed, we only get snippets retold through a different cultural context thousands of years after the fact. On top of that, the books are presented as fictional historical documents, and while not necessarily misleading they should be taken as a biased account. This means everything about the Butlerian Jihad is a second hand account filtered through an foreign culture of a second hand account filtered through a different foreign culture.

Whatever the Butlerian Jihad was (or was brought about by) was certainly a tremendously traumatic event for human kind, but the very fact of that trauma brings into question their responce!

So we have these traumatized people of a deeply stagnant, stratified, unsafe and unfree society, who believe that this framework is none-the-less necessary because the technology they'd have to implement to improve things would enslave them. And all the meanwhile, spice, the "safe" alternative to technology, is being sought by everyone as a tool to enslave everyone else. It's not that dangerous machines couldn't or didn't exist, but that humanity failed to take away the right lessons from overcoming that danger.

(This is also a setting where people regularly strap atomic bombs to themselves because otherwise they might be shot by a bullet.)

Notice how often Paul superpowers frequently measure out less as a prediction of the future so much as a more objective assessment of the present. The power of the divine the Bene Gesserit spent eons trying to bring about is "better threat assessment."

And the ultimate expression of that power, Super Space God King Leto #2, thinks machines are basically fine.

Schwarzwald fucked around with this message at 13:54 on Nov 16, 2020

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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MrL_JaKiri posted:

This isn't necessarily the case - if the trauma of the BJ is culturally universal, why talk about it?

(This is a real problem historians have, people didn't write stuff about their society down because it was really obvious to them at the time)

Additionally, trauma on a societal level is very different than on an individual level.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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The empire and the great houses pay extravagant sums to hire psychic drug addicts to steer their space boats because using MATLAB would be taboo.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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From the one prequel book I've read (whose name I couldn't recall) I'm willing to believe that these notes exist. There was just enough that was true to the themes in Frank's work.

In particular, a small part involved the ecology of a cold-weather planet under Harkonnen rule whose population maintained a culture of whaling. It didn't get too elaborate: the local population heavily ritualizes whaling so to not over hunt, an off planet Harkonnen prince visits and attempts to prove himself to the local culture by successfully bringing in several whales, only to be surprised that everyone hated him afterwards for destroying a breeding population. It hits most of the basic notes of OG Dune's conservation message, and there was a clear connection between the ecology of whaling and the whole sand worm thing.

It wasn't terrible! It suffered from Anderson's work-horse prose, but it wasn't terrible!

But that was a small part of a larger book which also dealt with Duncan Idaho on the "learn to be a D&D adventurer" planet, some indeterminable "will he or won't he" about Duke Leto buying a clone kid, some semi-fetishistic looks into the Harkonnen planet of manual labor and BDSM (guest starring the Bene Gesserit), and whatever meaningless politics the Emperor was getting up to.

It's fully believable to believe that quite a lot of it was directed by some notes Frank left behind, but was also clearly is not a Frank Herbert Dune book. There's very little benefit to considering it as one beyond comparing the whaling culture to the Fremen and the sand worms.

Schwarzwald fucked around with this message at 22:33 on Nov 18, 2020

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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Panzeh posted:

The last three books are way worse than the first three.

I think it makes more sense to divide Dune into pairs. Messiah basically finishes the story Dune began. Children and God Emperor takes the psychedelic and transhumanist elements to their logical end. Heretics and Chapterhouse are whatever the gently caress they are.

But yeah, Dune + Messiah is clearly the best of the lot and Heretics + Chapterhouse is the worst.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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God Emperor ain't the best Dune novel but I respect the hell of out it.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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Children of Dune is also interesting as existing alongside Doc Smith's Children of the Lens and Arthur Clark's Childhood's End as transhumanist psychedelic sci-fi novels with "child" in their title.

Which was a thing.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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GORDON posted:

I've always found the most insidious kind of evil was that who let good, competent men make bad decisions in the name of trying to do good thigns. Sauron was good at that in the LotR back stories, and in Dune the Emperor and Bene Gesserit kept everything obfuscated. None of our main players had all the information. They all made good decisions (for them) that led them to bad ends, because they weren't the ones playing chess.

I know I've said this already, but this is a big part of why I liked the Gom Jabbar scene. Mother Superior basically sits Paul down and tells him "the Bene Gesserit are the bad guys" and she doesn't even realize it.

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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Calling Dune a basic hero's journey, while not false per se, feels like a disservice to Dune and the hero's journey both

Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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We know Leto was purposely manipulating society to his own ends, so you can't say for certain that he was speaking truthfully. However, by the events of the book he's already mostly achieved what he had set out to do and has turned his attention more towards his legacy. I think it's fair to think he believed what he said.

(Also, there isn't really any story if he doesn't.)

This isn't to say his philosophy should be understood as flawless or absolute. His golden path was the golden path de facto because he chose it ó there weren't any other psychic gods for him to discuss it with.

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Schwarzwald
Jul 27, 2004

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There's only one "free man" that I respect, and that's Gordon.

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