Monday, September 15, 2014

Childern of Dune

Book: Childern of Dune
Author: Frank Herbert
Edition: eBook from Fresno County Library
Read: September 15, 2014
763 pages
Rated: 4 out of 5

This is a sequel to Dune and Dune Messiah. It follows the development of Leto II and Ghianima, the young twin children of Paul  Atreides and his sister, Alia, on Arrikas, the planet of Dune. The storyline involves Alia turning into the Abomination and the twins fight both to reclaim and enlarge the vision of their father as well as resisting the forces which turned Alia.


Herbert uses the term Abomination to describe a person who is under the influence of another person. Or more precisely, a Bene Gessert who succumbs to a controlling influence by one of the ancient voices  in them. This is because the Bene Geesert have the knowledge and wisdom of those preceding them, the voices within. But Paul, Alia, Leto and Ghianima not only hear the voices, but were born or induced through the drug melange. Consequently they can be controlled by these voices. I think that by the voices, Herbert meant more than just hearing sounds, even if in the head. But more like a multitude of persons within. I suspect there is certain similarities to schizophrenia, but not being schizophrenic.

The question which comes to my mind is, is Herbert saying when we let others control us, we are less ourselves? If so, then I wonder what he would think about how we develop ourselves? When we are children, our parents, teachers direct our thinking. As adults, we read writers, like Herbert, to better view our world and to better understand ourselves. Is Herbert saying we should not have influences like this? If so why does he write? If not, what is the nature of this Abomination?  I for one am a combination of my influences and the uniqueness which God has made me in.

As I am writing the above, the thought did occur to me that the type of influence which is an Abomination is when it corrupts the image of God in me. Advertising which seeks to take over his place, porn which seeks to deter me from righteousness, greed which seeks to be the primary goal in my life, pleasure which lulls me into complacency.

It appears that Herbert thinks that in the future religion will be come superfluous. I cannot point to a particular passage in the book, but the general direction seemed to be in that direction. The one religion presented here is a religion of God made in man's own image. A God of the strongest; a God lacking compassion for individuals but using people and discarding them. This is not the God which I do or desire to worship. In this way, he is more like Ann Rand and her image of a superman.

Future of the human race. 
Herbert's view of the future of the human race. In order to stop the slaughter which humans seems to inflict on themselves, Herbert thinks that it will take a superhuman with a benevolent vision. In Herbert's vision all others need to bow to him or be crushed. What is the difference between this vision and any other penny-ante dictator's lust for power? 


This is the third book in the Dune series and the last one written by a Frank Herbert. The last time I read beyond this book, the writing really was not up to par. Even this book is not as good as Dune, but it is highly enjoyable, particularly if you are a Dune fan. 

There is plenty of intrigue to keep one busy, but you do have to enter into the world of Dune to understand it.  Some of it is artificial-of course the whole set up is artificial. But the hypnotic play-acting of Ghianima going from hatred to partner. Or Leto meta-morphing into a super-human requires a certain amount of suspension of reality. There is a character called the Prophet. He had the possibility of being strong and defining justice. But in the end, Herbert undercuts the character and leaves him broken.

But the question, does Herbert write well enough to make these type of transitions? For someone like me who enjoys Herbert, the answer is yes. But for others, I think the answer will be in the negative.

New Words:

  • oneironmancy (165): a form of divination based upon dreams; it is a system of dream interpretation that uses dreams to predict the future.
  • Abrim (222): full to the brim
  • Desiccate (230): the state of extreme dryness, or the process of extreme drying.
  • Coruscate (246): to emit vivid flashes of light; sparkle;scintillate; gleam.
  • Qanat: one of a series of well-like vertical shafts, connected by gently sloping tunnels. Qanāts create a reliable supply of water for human settlements and irrigation in hot, arid, and semi-arid climates.
  • Motile(447): (Biology) capable of moving spontaneously and independentl; Psychology) psychol a person whose mental imagery strongly reflects movement, esp his own
  • Pasigraphic (532): writing system where each written symbol represents a concept (rather than a word or sound or series of sounds in a spoken language).
  •  Cilia(31): Biology. minute hairlike organelles, identicalin structure to flagella, that line the surfacesof certain cells and beat in rhythmic waves,providing locomotion to ciliate protozoansand moving liquids along internal epithelialtissue in animals
  • Haruspication(650); a form of divination from lightning and other natural phenomena, but especially from inspection ofthe entrails of animal sacrifices. 

Good Quotes:

  • First Line: A spot of light appeared on the deep red rug which covered the raw rock of the cave floor.
  • Last Line: "One of us had to accept the agony," she said, "and he was always the stronger."
  •  Failure to make a decision is a decision. Pg 23
  • Too much knowledge never makes for a simple decision. Pg 38
  • One observes the survivors and learns from them. pg 58
  • Most deadly errors arise from obsolete assumptions. Pg 150
  • Can you walk in mud and leave no tracks (paraphrase). pg 160
  • For proper government, the tribe must have ways to choose men whose lives reflect the way a government should behave. Pg 221
  • Our civilization could well die to indifference within it before succumbing to external attack. Pg 286
  • How seductive it is to live in peace. Pg 293
  • When we come to the end of our rope, that's an important point to recognize!  Pg 373
  • There's unknown all around at every moment. That's where you seek knowledge. Pg 446
  • Knowing was a barrier which prevented learning. Pg 448


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