Books: SciFi & Fantasy

Originally posted by Dana D

Is that the same "Watchers" as the movie Keanu was in a year or so ago?

No it isn't. Koontz's "Watchers" was made into a terrible movie starring Corey Haim and Michael Ironside. It was then remade into a slightly less bad, "Watchers II" (a remake NOT a sequel) starring Marc Singer and Tracy Scoggins. There has also been a "Watchers III" movie but I haven't worked up the courage to rent it yet.
Orson Scott Card is my fav sci/fi author, especially the Ender books

Tolkien is the best fantasy there is :D

much luv to dune as well
I found Midnight by Koontz to be a dull ride. The central story was an OK premise, but in that book Koontz hammered in his literary themes like railroad spikes... you know,


Fear of death/fear of living dichotomy


Animal's unthinking emotion/Machine's unfeeling intelligence dichotomy


New technology causes people's inner desires to manifest themselves physically


It got boring after a while. Sometimes a theme should be a subtle, pervading atmosphere rather than a huge, neon sign stating exactly what you are supposed to think.

That said I never read any of his other books... perhaps they were more finely crafted.

As for Dune...

Anyone who thinks that God Emperor of Dune is dull should go back and have another look just for fun.
My favourite scene is where the Imperial Retinue is on a trip, and ten thousand Face Dancers all jump out looking like Duncan Idaho and all Face Dance around.
However, in making this plan they underestimated the God Emperor's vast ability to, well, kill Duncan Idaho. He runs them all over with his giant Worm jeep.

In the midst of all of the intricate politicking and intrigue, this scene made me laugh out loud.
Maybe it wasn't supposed to be funny...

Im absolutely SHOCKED no one mentioned George RR Martins A-Song-Of-Ice-And-Fire Series. Fourth book is coming out soon, and as far as alot of people who read the books are concerned, this surpasses even tolkins work.
Im absolutely SHOCKED no one mentioned George RR Martins A-Song-Of-Ice-And-Fire Series.

I agree. Rabid fools. They know not what brilliance it.

Understand, GRR Martin is an actual writer, unlike the those empty-headed printing press money-grubbing clone machines- Goodkind, Jordan, and the rest. His stories are utterly breath taking.

DUNE- can someone please explain the point of this book? I swear I read everything up to Emperor (so there must be something about it), but it seems as if the author made no definitive point whatsoever. Since there is a lot of lecturing going on in the books, I suppose there should be a point. What is it?
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Originally posted by Inquisitor

DUNE- can someone please explain the point of this book? I swear I read everything up to Emperor (so there must be something about it), but it seems as if the author made no definitive point whatsoever. Since there is a lot of lecturing going on in the books, I suppose there should be a point. What is it?
Besides the genius of the plot? Besides the political intrigue (and what it teaches us about politics today)? Besides the demonstration of the role of religion in population motivation and politics? Besides the insights of history and its influence on contemporary society? Besides combining all this into a coherent whole?

Perhaps you should stick to the Star Trek and Star Wars novels (and I use the word 'novel' extremely loosely).

Since Dune is a pretty complex series (and I haven't finished it yet) I can only briefly and inaccurately explain. Also, bear in mind that others will almost definitely NOT agree with my assessment; this may be because they know more about the series than I or may be because they interpreted it differently.

One major point, which comes up in God Emperor of Dune, is the idea of the Golden Path. Paul Atreides talked about the Golden Path earlier in the series, but it turned out that he was too much of a nerd to actually do it. What's the Golden Path? It goes something like this.

Leto (who becomes a Sandworm) believes that all of human society descended from the Greco-Roman society of Earth which only he can remember (with his fantastic genetic memory powers). The Greco-Romans (or whatever) inherited an idea which I believe he referred to as the Pharaonic model of leadership/government. Leto believed that the inherent decay of society was not actually inherent, but arose from the adherence to this pharaonic model of investing a divine mandate in a leader. War and social decay in its present form could be prevented if a way could be found to stop society from following this idea of a divinely correct (or at least inherently correct) leader.

So what does he do? He sets himself up as the de facto leader of the entire universe. How does this work? Well, it's like this.

He's the only remaining sandworm because he got rid of all the others by irrigating the planet.
Only sandworms make the spice, which is necessary for space travel, prolonging of life, and other important things. Without spice, the whole of galactic civilization grinds to a halt.

So no one can kill him.

Then he sets about being the hugest nastiest bastard that he can possibly be. He develops all of his divine mandates to their utmost power and then abuses them so badly that everyone in the known universe is totally sick of him and they all wish he would die. Not only that, but they don't want anyone to replace him and they all just want to be left alone.

The theory is that when he does die, or leave the stage, or whatever, everyone will abandon the idea of another divine replacement, and fall into some other less stagnating system of government.

*** This is as much as I actually know. Now I start predicting.

This is all great except for the part about Duncan. I have been told in the past that Duncan Idaho is actually the main character of the Dune series, even though it doesn't look like that at the beginning.

(One of the reasons I was given for this was that Dune is a diminutive form of Duncan; Duncan may actually be a microcosmic representation of the planet and vice versa.)

When the rest of the system collapses there will be no more Atreides - however gigantic and bloated and hideous Leto may be, he's still an Atreides and Duncan seems to think of him that way.

But, when Leto finally dies and Duncan is left behind as an unattached ghola, it's unlikely that he'll ever be revived again if he dies; consequently, the life that was rather obtusely put on hold when he was killed so long ago can finally restart...

I've not finished God Emperor yet, so my own conjectures are probably a little off. But that's what I think.

Besides the genius of the plot? Besides the political intrigue…

Yeah, that’s nice, but what’s the point?

Besides the demonstration of the role of religion in population motivation and politics?

“As you near the ass, the legs get thicker,” is an old Russian proverb meant to characterize the practice of stating absolutely obvious things. Everyone knows that religion motivates politics- I get as much from the The Three Musketeers, but few authors make it the central message of their novel.

Besides combining all this into a coherent whole?

Still, what’s the theme of the story? Religion is bad? Government X is the best form of government? People are A, B, C, and D? Politicians are E, F, G, and H?

Perhaps you should stick to the Star Trek and Star Wars novels (and I use the word 'novel' extremely loosely).

I can’t stick those novels because I don’t read them. They have little or no meaning. I read Herbert primarily because I was fascinated by his imagination- and because he seemed to be trying to make a point- one I hoped to identify in the long run. I never did.

There are books and movies (the Matrix 2, for example) that hope to achieve a level of refinement by throwing around intelligent phrases and doublespeak. People buy into it, but can never make a definitive claim as to what the artwork’s meaning is (aside from some uninteresting and worthless generalizations).

I have reason to suppose that I may be mistaken about the Dune series. But it’s extensive monologues, especially the ones by Leto in Emperor of Dune, seemed to be vague and equivocal- with no clear message to them. I may be wrong, that’s why I asked that someone explain what I missed or didn’t understand.
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Very good Bigwhitehead.

A couple of points;

Leto remembers much further back than Greco-Roman times, and, a 'Pharaonic model of leadership/government' preceeds Roman ascendancy by about 2000 years (in Egypt).

And, just to please you, many believe (myself included) that the last 2 books in the series are the best. Look forward to a great ride.
Big Blue,

That’s interesting, however, wasn’t the last Emperor “Shada-something” regarded as pretty much human? In that case, why is the deification of leaders (which doesn’t often occur anymore in actuality, by the way) considered by Leto to be a problem? How does this come about as being a philosophical or political message, of sorts- if it is meant to be one. Does it resound throughout the entire series? You gave me a good plot summary, but aside from that, I’m still perplexed as to the point.
Leto remembers much further back than Greco-Roman times
et cetera. I know, the pharaonic model refers to pharaohs. These, and the length of Leto's memory, are minor details; the importance is the pervasiveness of the model of government.

Leto was saying that is was the wholesale passing on of responsibility to the leader, not their deification; the leader is expected to tell people not only how to help with the grand social vision, but also how to behave, how to feel... Leto's complaint about the system was that each person looked up to him (or some other leader, in other times) to tell them how to be, instead of deciding for themselves as some kind of collective, or some other system like that...

The idea was that the citizen turned over their civil responsibility to intelligence by giving all such responsibilities to the leader instead.

If the President of the US decided to take an action that blew up in his face in a predictable way, what would the citizens of the US do? Would they say, "We were wrong to support the President in such an obviously foolish action?" Nah, they'd say, "We need a new President. This one sucks."

All civil responsibility is therefore invested in the leader, because when the country's actions go wrong, its citizens claim that it's the fault of the leader that they appointed. "Beyond the choice of a representative," they say, "we don't want to understand anything about what our country does." That way, when things go wrong, they can protect themselves with claims of ignorance and helplessness.

What's wrong with this model? Leto demonstrates.

Imagine if the giant worm is the President of the US.

He gets up today on the TV, and says,

"Inquisitor (that's you) has been investigated and found to be corrupt and utterly lacking in moral fibre. He (or she) is an example of the most hideous failure of our inability to foster human goodness in the pathetic and wasted shells of people like him (or her). As such, his house will be bombed into ashes at 9:48 this morning, Eastern Standard Time. Bless you all, except for Inquisitor. Good morning."

You check your watch, and it's 9:48. So, what're you gonna do, vote? You gave up your civil responsibilities in the last election (assuming you ever had a chance to exercise them at all) to a giant worm who's about to kill you. And the best part is, you gave away that civil responsibility to him whether you voted for him or not. All you can really do now is have them carve "This President sucks. We need a new one," on your tombstone.

That's the point. Leto is trying to break people's dependence on this kind of leader, by pissing them off so bad that they don't want him, and ensuring that there's no one else who could even come close to replacing him.
BigBluehead has it right. As someone whose read the entire series possibly three times, I can confirm he has summed it up pretty damn well.

Your look at Duncan is also important. you could say he is the consistently "noraml" human view in the series. Or the lively human view. Its kind of hard to explain, but as you can see he becomes more important as the series goes on, I think as a comparison of human development, as a demonstration of that development, and of a symbol of potential in a changing universe.

Oh yes, and I want to know what you all think once youve finished the series.
I wasn't sure because I haven't read the whole series yet, but I had the feeling that Duncan would ultimately represent Leto's failure to break the pharaonic mode of government of social responsibility.

My assumption in that regard would be that when Leto finally kicked the bucket or transcended reality or what not, everyone would turn to Duncan and ask him what to do, thus destroying the whole Golden Path thing in a flood of human stupidity.

But I've only read up to God Emperor... so I'm not sure about that.
Well, hurry up and read the others, surely you have a bookshop or a library nearby? If you were in the UK I'd lend you mine, but you can usually find them in any good bookshop.
With regards to Duncan, I would say your only partly, a wee bit, correct. Adn wait till you finish god emperor! It has one of the oddest yet most appropriate endings ive ever read. hehehehheeh.
I'd warn you about Redwall... everyone loved it for a long time but there's about 1 million Redwall books now, and even Brian Jacques' fans are telling him to stop writing them.
The Redwall series are a sort of fantasy series that have animal characters but still use basically use medieval Europe as their background.

The use of animal characters is in a style that I don't particularly like, which is where animal species represent characterization; being a stoat, for instance, makes you a bad person (especially if you have a name like Cragtooth). This is sort of strange because being a badger makes you a good person... but anyway.

Of course I have a beef with popular fantasy for its prejudicial theories of identity, so I may be a little sensitive about this issue...
"Of course I have a beef with popular fantasy for its prejudicial theories of identity, so I may be a little sensitive about this issue..."

Quick, write up a mini essay, so we can have a debate about it or spot examples of it or something, this place is lacking in quality discussion about books.

Have you read the wind in the willows?