Tuesday, November 25, 2008


One of the things this blog is good for is making me keep track of and stay on task with my many projects. Since I claim publicly that I am doing stuff with with my time, I feel some positive pressure to keep making claims to that effect on this blog...The last few days have actually been reasonably productive for me on all fronts: I got some more work done on the magazine, including acquiring a little pile of new fiction submissions to read over and make decisions about; I have made decent, realistic progress on Current Project (probably won’t be done with the complete draft this week, but I’m getting much closer); I spent a whole day, Sunday, lounging around the house with Jeff just being relaxed, during which we certainly caused Rachael Ray to feel a great disturbance in the Force by threatening her self-proclaimed “burger queen” status with our own creation of a giant onion-and-jalapeno stuffed bacon cheese burger…and I am already done with Paul of Dune, have read a lot of Aye, and Gomorrah and have started the Mieville book. Those Dune novels are really pretty quick reads despite their apparent heft. That’s probably due in part to the rather transparent and lightweight style that Anderson and Herbert have used for them. It’s sure not his father’s Dune, but I do find it compulsively readable. This one launches a new three-part story set during the Jihad period that occurs in the space between the first two of the original Frank Herbert novels. It flashes back and forth between that time period where Paul Atreides, trapped in his web of prescience and destiny, barely keeps his hands on the helm of his horrifying Jihad, and an earlier time period where Paul is a boy of twelve and faces war and death for the first time in a gruesome War of Assassins with a rival house (with their sinister yet bumbling enemies, the Harkonnens, lurking behind the scenes). One thing that I liked a lot about it was the handling of Irulan, a character that had never seemed that interesting to me before despite the fact that she is the source of so many of the epigraphs that head chapters in all these books. In this story, she becomes a sympathetic character and it becomes clearer what her reasons were for wanting the task of being Paul’s biographer and what her emotions are concerning her uncomfortable status in the Emperor's household. I think the best of the Anderson-Herbert Dune stories remains the Butlerian Jihad trilogy, but this Paul volume is a nice, shiny new thing to have out there.

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