Dune Readalong, Part II

Welcome to Part II of the Dune Readalong hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings.  Today’s discussion questions are brought to you by Andrea from The Little Red Reviewer.

Was Liet’s identity a surprise?  who do you think he really works for?

I wasn’t terribly surprised, but I was amused.  I thought while reading it that Liet works for Liet, and plays both sides to an extent.  He seems to side more with the Fremen, but he’s a blend of two different cultures and a bridge between the two.  He’s not quite a purely traditional Fremen, but at the same time, he seemed out of place at the dinner party in the first part of the novel, and not really a part of that world either.

What do you think of the Fremen culture?  is this a culture you think you’d enjoy spending some time with?

I like the Fremen for one of the same reasons why I’m drawn to the Dothraki in “Game of Thrones.”  The Fremen have a somewhat harsh culture, but they are honest about who they are and what they do.  In Fremen society, you don’t need to worry about backstabbing, poison, plotting, and the other general moral ickiness found among the noble houses.  If someone wants you dead, at least they’ll be direct about it.  I’d love to spend some time with the Fremen, even though I’d miss air conditioning, the internet, and the ability to bathe.

What do you think of Count Fenring’s unusual verbal mannerisms?

They were hm-m-m-m-m-m one of the few things in this book that annoyed me.  Not quite a stutter, just pure driveling.  It made me wonder if Fenring was deliberately trying to piss off whomever he was talking to.
This is a far future empire with very little in the way of computerization. Information is often passed down orally, and schools (such as the Mentats and the Bene Gesserit) have formed to train young people in memorization and information processing.  What are you thoughts on a scifi story that is very “low-tech”?  Does that sound like a feasable future? a ridiculous one?

I’ll answer this in a minute, as it relates to the next question.

Dune was written in the 60’s. Does it feel dated to you? How does it compare, writing style-wise, to more contemporary science fiction you’ve read?

Using little actual technology other than space travel was what made this story not feel dated.  When authors try to go heavy on the technology, it gets dated within a few years, even if the story is timeless.  Look at Orwell’s “1984.”  It’s still a fantastic novel, but since it’s 2011, it’s kind of amusing to look back on.

On the other hand, Herbert takes technology and sets up a world where humans tried to rely overly much on technology, resulting in a massive war and big explosions.  People learned their lesson and switched back to letting humans to do the thinking.  I think that the low-tech setting makes readers focus more on the characters themselves instead of being distracted by technology.  Herbert makes technology secondary to the story itself, which is why it reminds me so much of epic fantasy.

Other thoughts

One of the things not in the discussion questions that I found rather interesting was Jessica’s Reverend Mother ordeal.  She probably should have told somebody she was pregnant first, since she just permanently altered the consciousness of her unborn daughter.  Oopsies.  Good going Jessica.  Smart move.

Stay tuned for next week’s discussion of Part III!  I’ll be asking the questions for next week, which will be sent out on Thursday.

17 thoughts on “Dune Readalong, Part II

  1. I loved your answer for the count! And your point that he didn’t include a lot of technology helps this book stay relevant through the years is interesting. I hadn’t thought of it, but I think you are right.

    How long do you think you could visit the Fremen? I don’t think I would last too long.

    1. I think I could manage a few months every now and again. The first couple weeks would be the adjustment, and then I’d probably be okay but miss running water. I’d go home after that, be glad to be home, but then every time I had a few beers I’d tell my friends how much I miss the Fremen and how awesome they were.

      Alternately, the Fremen might decide that I am not athletic enough to keep up with them, and that I sunburn way too easily for my own good, which is a much more likely scenario.

      1. A few months. I don’t know if I could last that long. I’ve spent a couple of weeks in Africa and I was away from “civilization”. I loved it. The land, people, and animals are amazing. And I felt like I could stay forever. But I will admit, my first hot shower after leaving the bush was fantastic.

        I’m too clumsy for the Fremen. I have a nice bruise on my knee right now from whacking it on my own coffee table. I would become water.

  2. Jessica knew right away she was pregnant, but i wonder if maybe she didn’t know what exactly was going to happen during the ritual? even worse, she wasn’t really in a position to back out, right? yeah, MAJOR oops!!

    lol! the Fremen would dump me in a few days too, cuz I’d be like “where’s the SPF 8 billion?”

    also, my husband is chiming in with: “Plus Duncan Idaho is pure cool… I pretty much became a professional fencer because i read this when i was 12.” fencing, that’s swords, not watches. 😉

  3. I think the Fremen resonate with so many of us because of points you mention, Grace. There is an honest, grounded, moral and honorable code in the Fremen lifestyle that is missing from so much of the intrigue and scheming of the Houses. They aren’t completely guilt free, as they are complicit in some dealings with the Guild and spice trading. But by and large they seem to be a people who you could count on to act predictably once you understood their society.

  4. The Fremen culture was a nice break from the intrigues of the nobility. Harsh, but straightforward. It’s pretty scary what Jessica does to her unborn daughter, but I think she had to choose between Paul’s future and what may or may not happen to the fetus. It turns out it was a rash gamble. It will make for a great plot element though. Loved your thoughts on the low-tech nature allowing us to focus more on the characters. Very true. I’m usually more into characters than technology in general, so it works for me!

  5. I really like the honesty of the Fremen as well. What you say about it not being dated because of the “low-tech” makes sense as well.
    It seems as if hardly anyone found Fenrig’s hmmm very useful or interesting. I really wonder if he returns in part III and what will become of this mannerism.
    Well thatunborn daughter of Jessica had to endure quite a few pre-natal shocks…
    I wonder still why Paul is so wary of his mother all of a sudden?

      1. I believe that the story thus far indicates that Paul’s change in attitude towards his mother is coming from his visions. He sees her as the enemy because he sees her as one of the instruments driving him towards this future where people are wreaking destruction across the stars in the name of Maud’Dib. Not only is she moving things that way by doing her own scheming to ensure that the Fremen are in support of Paul, but she also set the seeds for this destruction in motion by having him in the first place and then teaching him and raising him the way that she did. I think all of this is wrapped up in the agony Paul feels when he sees a future dominated by a Holy War that somehow is because of him.

        1. I agree. I think he doesn’t really want to consider her an enemy, but she’s pushing him toward a future he doesn’t want. Paul seems most at ease with the Fremen, who aren’t constantly engaged in scheming for political power.

          1. I agree, he does seem comfortable with them and yet I wonder how much he worries or will worry about them becoming those disciples who might kill in his name. Looking forward to this next section.

            1. I’m going to assume that that’s big on Paul’s list of worries, as one of the things that my boyfriend and I were talking about while I was reading was Herbert’s theme of caution against blindly following authority, no matter how pure that authority might seem.

  6. I wouldn’t want to visit any part of the Dune universe. I wouldn’t last 10 seconds with any of the Great Houses or the Fremen.

    I’m not sure people did learn their lesson. Sure, they overthrew the thinking machines, but it’s hardly a model society. Seems toi me they’ve just harne their brainpower into thinking up ways to take down their rivals.

    1. Quite true–I really don’t think I could stand living in the society of the Great Houses, and I wouldn’t like being a part of the Bene Gesserit either. The Fremen were the best alternative in Herbert’s world. Then again, the world of politics is always dirty, no matter what society one lives in. Look at modern elections, and you’ll see that we aren’t much better.

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