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[books] Re-reading Frank Herbert's Dune - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
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Jay Lake
Date: 2010-06-24 05:49
Subject: [books] Re-reading Frank Herbert's Dune
Security: Public
Tags:books, process
Having finished up with both Miles Vorkosigan and Discworld, and not being able to find my copy of Ringworld, I am currently re-reading Frank Herbert's Dune. This is perhaps the fourth or fifth time I've read it, but the first in at least ten years.

Wow, is it a different book to me now. I may wind up wishing I'd left it alone with my memories. The intense SFnal crunchiness is still there, with all the fun and delight of that, but I keep getting distracted by the unselfconscious sexism (with all due credit, he does have a number of strong female characters, but the casual treatment of female servants, wives, and women-in-the-background is wince-inducing to my contemporary eye) as well as the prose bordering on the clunky, and sometime incursing well into the land of clunk. SF these days tends to place a strict rigor on point-of-view control, but POV in Dune flows like sand down a slipface. Different times, different styles, and nothing is immutable in literature. These things I all know. But the head hopping is distracting me somewhat from the story.

I'll enjoy it, but (once again) I have to say reading this book as a writer is very different from when I read it as a reader.

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fledgist
User: fledgist
Date: 2010-06-24 13:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I remember reading it for the first time as a teenager in (wow) 1971, and being amazed by the completeness of the world-building. What also amazed me, and pleased me, (having been used by then to what seemed the conventional assumption that the West would forever endure) was that this was a non-Western future, or, rather a future in which the West and non-West are merged in interesting ways).

The only other book I read at that time, when I was 15 or so, that had as riveting an effect on me was Lord of Light. But it was Dune that I pressed on others (and Tolkien that was pressed on me in return).
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Keikaimalu
User: keikaimalu
Date: 2010-06-24 20:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I absolutely love Lord of Light. One of my two favorites of all time. The other is The Last Western, by Thomas Klise, of which (and whom) no one has ever heard; it was published in 1975, and hasn't been reprinted since, so it's hard to find. Have you ever read it?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-06-24 22:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Never heard of Klise. Great-souled Sam, however... :)
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Keikaimalu
User: keikaimalu
Date: 2010-06-25 00:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think that's the only book Klise wrote. Interestingly, it's extremely Christian (and I am not, and never have been), but I love it anyway. It's the thing that helped me understand the appeal of Christianity for the first time.

I read it first in college, then again every 10 years or so. I'm amazed at how well it has held up over time, and at how different a book it is each time I read it.

Sometimes you can find a library copy, but because it's been out of print for 30+ years, it's hard to get a hold of.

Hey -- I think Ken Scholes has read it. You could ask him about it.
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ulfhirtha
User: ulfhirtha
Date: 2010-06-24 14:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"SF these days tends to place a strict rigor on point-of-view control"

Is that a good thing?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-06-24 22:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Um, not necessarily. But it's the water I swim in these days. Doesn't make it good or bad, just is.
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martyn44
User: martyn44
Date: 2010-06-24 17:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I am about to revisit the book after a gap of closer to 40 than 30 years. I'm hoping to be delighted but not expecting it. I read Whipping Star recently and my memories were thoroughly disappointed.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-06-24 22:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
But I often wonder if all that stuff I saw in it was what *I* carried with me, not what was actually in the text.

Isn't that often the case with beloved texts of any sort?
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Keikaimalu
User: keikaimalu
Date: 2010-06-25 00:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think it's the case with all texts of all sorts. I learned a long time ago that the story I wrote often has no more than a passing resemblance to the story each reader reads -- and that each reader reads a different story. Odd, that.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-06-25 00:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That's partly what I mean when I say, "the story belongs to the reader."
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User: mmegaera
Date: 2010-06-25 03:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:reading
No one is ever finished with Miles Vorkosigan.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-06-25 13:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, yes...

(At least not until he's finished with them.)
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User: mmegaera
Date: 2010-06-25 23:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:reading
[snicker]
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russ: lyles constant
User: goulo
Date: 2010-06-25 08:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:lyles constant
I recently read a detective novel and was really annoyed by the "head-hopping". By all indications we were in the viewpoint of the detective who's introduced on page one. But a colleague appears, and we randomly are in his head occasionally. And we get about a dozen brief hops of only one or two sentences each into the POV of suspects and totally incidental characters, with no rhyme or reason. I was really surprised, and it felt very amateurish to me. Apparently many readers and writers are not aware of the concept of a consistent POV, or they just don't care about it.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-06-25 12:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's normal in some genres, such as romance, for reasons that make sense to the writers and readers. They *want* to see inside everyone's head.

In detective fiction, given the need for control of information flow to the reader in order to preserve aspects of the mystery, that's kind of weird.
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Amanda
User: cissa
Date: 2010-06-30 05:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The best romances I've read lately keep a pretty close POV; they often change POVs between chapters, etc., but they are not at all random.

Random POVs seem to be more common in stuff that was written 20 or so years ago, whatever the genre. The style had changed in that time, it seems.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-06-30 12:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I need to read more good romance, frankly. Any recommendations?
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Amanda
User: cissa
Date: 2010-06-30 22:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hmm. I'm trying to decide between what's actually good and what I like; I have eclectic tastes that sometimes make me like stuff that I would not really consider "good".

Anyway, in terms of romance: Georgette Heyer. Not modern at all, and her mysteries are a bit cringeworthy, but when she's ON with the romance, she's amazing, especially when she's funny. I adored "The Talisman Ring"- excellent farce (sort of Wodehousian in some ways), and good dialog between fun characters.

Also Jennifer Crusie, who writes the very best dialog of any modern author I have read in any genre. She's good at the rest, too, but she's brilliant at dialog, in my opinion.

Now, my tastes in romance tend to the farcical context and witty dialog between smart and savvy people, so that's a factor here; "Bringing Up Baby" is one of my favorite romantic comedy movies. I very much value egalitarianism between the romantic couple, and so I do not much like the he-man stuff.

Also, Dorothy Sayers' Peter/Harriet novels- they're mysteries, but the developing romance is wonderful. I feel I am fortunate to be married to a guy who fits me (as I do him) as well as Peter and Harriet fit each other, and reading those in my formative years has, I think, much to do with that. "Gaudy Night" is probably the best, but reading "Strong Poison" first (and maybe "Murder Must Advertise") would help with the context.

ETA: and Jane Austen, especially "Pride and Prejudice" (without zombies, please), and Bujold's "A Civil Campaign" is one of the best romantic novels I've read in the past 10 years; I even made my husband read it (and he's not a reader), and he loved it, too.

Edited at 2010-06-30 10:19 pm (UTC)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-07-01 12:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you!
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