Monday, 29 November 2010
Thursday, 18 November 2010
In this book it's called the Hard Rapture. America goes to war, and its war machines are so advanced they become sentient and start uploading people using the internet while irradiating the planet. The machines/uploads then become posthuman, create a network of wormholes across the galaxy, leave a bunch of unfathomable relics a la Roadside Picnic and disappear onto a different plane of existence where, it's suggested, they've made faster than light travel possible in our universe. We're told singularities start coming thick and fast after the first one's reached.
Monday, 15 November 2010
Again, it's based on real people and events. If you're going to make something up, stick it in space I say. It's the story of two men - George, who's a solicitor of Indian descent who gets accused of some horrific crimes (the mysterious but strangely popular phenomenon of horse ripping, as well as a bizarre campaign of hate) and Sir Arthur Conan Dolyle who...well, hell, you know who HE is .
Sunday, 14 November 2010
Saturday, 13 November 2010
It's also got people being possessed by parasitical worms, a massive jellyfish in someone's house, a car full of cockroaches and an exploding dog. And there's always the sense that "is this really happening, or have I gone insane?" It works because the horror isn't treated as a joke - that comes from the characters, primarily John. He's a penis obsessed knucklehead with an endless supply of Arnie-type puns as he whacks demons. Wong is the opposite - a gloomy guilt-ridden pessimist who falls in love and learns that he isn't a hero. Luckily, he's also hilarious.
Monday, 8 November 2010
Tuesday, 2 November 2010
This is book three in the series. If you've seen the David Lynch film, you know how the first book ends - the good Paul Maud'Dib defeats the baddies on the back of a sandworm and becomes Emperor of the Universe. Hooray! Book two, Dune Messiah, begins after a religious jihad has swept the universe in Paul's name killing 61 billion people. Um...hooray?
As you might expect in Children of Dune the focus is on Paul's children. Leto and Ghamina are nine years old, but since they both have the memories of all their ancestors, they don't really act like kids. A side effect of way too much spice. It's the same story with Paul's sister Alia, who's acting as their regent. And she's not coping all that well with the whole memory thing.
The plot's all about plotting - they can't help trying to kill each other (and I do like assassination by cat.) Each conversation plays out like a chess game, with moves and countermoves which are entirely different to what the words mean on the surface. These scenes are exhilirating and never turn out the way you expect. You can apply that to the whole book as well.
I love how the Dune universe is one of contradictions. The stuff of which fuels everything only grows on a virtually dead planet. It's set in the far future, but it feels ancient. They travel between the stars but technology is feared and hated. You've got religion and mysticism coming up against realpolitik and ecology. Even things like the medieval/byzantine culture of the galaxy contrasting with the arabic mythology on Dune. So much to get your teeth into.
Most people reckon the Dune books get increasingly ropey, until the myriad prequels co-written by Herbert's son which I've heard are virtually unreadable. For the moment, I'm still riding that sandworm rollercoaster.