Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Paul Of Dune, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Paul Of Dune
Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

I love the original Dune books by Frank Herbert. Well, I love some of them and appreciate the others for what they are, even if they aren't up the quality of Dune or God Emperor Of Dune, which are the best two in the series. Sadly, however, Herbert died with the series incomplete, and left a lot of questions unanswered.

His son, Brian Herbert, picked up the tale with co-writer Kevin J. Anderson, but rather than continue where Herbert left off, they have so far set their stories before or between the original novels in the series.

I'd read another one of their works some time back - Dune, House Atreides, I think - and found it flat. Recently, though, I was given a copy of Paul Of Dune and decided to try it, to see if the earlier work was just a poor example or actually reflected the reality of what Herbert and Anderson are writing. Sadly, it turns out to be the latter.

The Dune universe provides a rich tapestry to work with: compelling characters, fascinating settings, unique technology, incredibly complicated politics, and (of course) the spice. Herbert and Anderson, though, simply cannot find anything interesting to write about here. In fact, they barely find anything to write about at all.

The story has no focus, and we go from chapter to chapter wondering why any of it matters. It appears the time Paul Atreides spends consolidating power after assuming the role of emperor is pretty dull. If this wasn't fiction it might even be true that nothing of interest happened during this period, but Herbert and Anderson could and should have done better. Alternately, if they are following notes left by Frank himself, they should have skipped this part of Dune's history and written about something else. Something that matters.