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jcunningham

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Ermahgerd. Berks.

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Dune

Dune  - Frank Herbert DBR to follow, at Ceridwen's request. She must have used one of her Bene Gesserit tricks on me.***Dune. Dune is a fascinating book. A classic of science-fiction, it plays equally as fantasy and allegory. It is deeply textured, richly layered. And if you want to read a sensible review of it, I'd go read, say, Cedriwen's. This one is going to be full of silliness.Arrakis. The desert planet. Home to spice and sandworms. Dune. You know, I went to the desert once. The Sahara Desert. It looked like this (ps I took this picture!):I don't feel like tracking down a picture from the movie, so you have to imagine what Arrakis looks like. It looks a lot like the Sahara.So anyway, one of the "things to do" when you're in Morocco is to drive out into the Sahara and go for a camel ride, stay overnight in a Berber tent. Ah, camels. I don't know if any of you have ridden a camel (but I'm sure if you have, you will back me up on this): not as much fun as you would think. Riding a horse is, let's face it, always a little uncomfortable. You have to straddle it (twss!), you have to keep your legs at a weird angle (twss!), it starts to hurt after a while (uh... twss?). Riding a camel, on the other hand, sucks. Camels do not wear saddles. They wear blankets. A camel's hump is not very squishy for something that is supposed to be full of water, if my elementary school understanding of why they can live in the desert is accurate. If kind of feels like you are sitting on a rock, and it feels like someone is repeatedly hitting your public bone with a baseball bat. This is not just a guy thing; my girlfriend confirmed that after about five minutes, riding a camel ceases being at all fun and becomes an exercise in pain management. It hurt like hell while it was happening, and it was hard to walk the next day (omg, twss!).On Dune, the desert-inhabiting Fremen don't ride camels. They ride these:Scary. But probably not more uncomfortable to ride than a camel.Look, this is me with Fergie. I am smiling because I am no longer riding it.Other than the sand and stuff, Arrakis is pretty different from Western Africa. Like the sandworms, which attack anyone who dares venture into the desert, there are the Fremen, a mysterious tribe of fighters who have a strange relationship with what they call "the Markers," there is this stuff called spice that must be carefully harvested from the sands, the risk rewarded by the incredible worth of the spice as a drug used by the Guild to gives the navigators the prescient sight they need to chart courses through hyperspace, and by the Bene Gesserit witches, why use it to preserve their ways from generation to generation. Also I don't think Dune had package tours.Dune is a famously boring and complicated book. You may have heard that it has a lengthy appendix, and that when David Lynch turned it into a movie, the story was so complex that audiences had to be given cheat sheets along with their tickets. (Don't blame Frank Herbert for that, though. The Dune movie is just marvelously bad, as this chart will illustrate:)Don't let its reputation fool you. Sure, Dune is a little bit boring in parts (the characters like to philosophize redundantly and have prophetic visions). But it is also an awesome space opera, with an entirely transporting sense of place and vidiv world-building. The political struggles that drive the plot engine are fiendishly complex to the occasional point of obtusion (I can't believe that is a word), but also a lot of fun to read about, thanks to sneering villains like Baron Harkonnen, who isn't just any old bad guy, but a grossly obese, slithery, murdering, rapist pedophile. The Fremen, a tribe of deeply spiritual religious fanatics who control a natural resource and are willing to die for what they believe... in. Hmmmm. And then there are the sandworms. I loved everything about this concept, from Herbert's vivid descriptions, to their presence as an omnipresent threat throughout the book, to their epic inclusion in the explosion and violence-heavy climax. Awesome.I haven't really said anything about the book. It's good. It's Dune. It is a super-famous classic for a reason. It has compelling characters (Lady Jessica is one of the most interesting female protagonists in classic sci-fi, and the book's take on gender politics, with an elite group of women are a powerful, secretive and controlling force in the galaxy , is worth examining.) It is epic in scope. It's nearly as deep as Tolkien (there's that appendix).It's also just cool.