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November 18, 2009

Dune 7

Grasping for the Wind solicited book bloggers in science fiction, fantasy and horror to suggest the worst or most disappointing endings in science fiction and fantasy novels. I reproduce most of Omphalos SF Book Reviews' comment on "Hunters of Dune" as it needed to be said and is for the ages (much more at the link).

... the worst ending in SF undoubtedly is also the longest and most drawn out ending in the history of the genre: Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune. These two monumental piece of junk books were penned by Brian Herbert and his “writing” partner Kevin J. Anderson in an attempt to wrap up Frank Herbert’s monumental, epic and amazingly well crafted Dune chronicles.

Can I tell you a secret? Lean in close now. The Herbert’s have ears all over the place and I don’t want them to hear this…again. The series was complete when Frank died. The whole point of the six Dune books that Frank Herbert wrote were to show one thing: How Leto II successfully put humanity onto the Golden Path, or a path towards a societal configuration that would ensure the immortality of the race. The first trilogy of books tell the story of Leto II coming to power, and the empire he inherited from his father, Paul. The fourth book, God Emperor of Dune, shows Leto’s plan at its most vulnerable point. Without providing any spoiling detail, Leto made it work. The last two books, Heretics and Chapterhouse, were about a different story in the Dune universe where the characters saw a risk to the Golden Path. At the end of Chapterhouse Frank Herbert left a few rhetorical question that Herbert the Younger and Anderson spun into the “greatest cliff-hanger in the history of the genre.”

Yeah, right. A close reading of Heretics and Chapterhouse reveal all the answers that anyone needs. But, with a few notes that they claim to have found in Herbert’s attic, and the mythical outline for “Dune 7″ that was reportedly found in a safety deposit box in the months after Herbert and Anderson claim to have gotten together to draft an outline for the plot of Dune: House Atreides (the first of six useless, needless prequels to the first Frank Herbert Dune novel, and the first baby-steps in a blatant, clumsy reengineering of an absolute classic of literature), they have indeed gone where no man should ever go. Frank Herbert’s Dune is, in my mind, unassailable. It’s the best book that SF has to offer, and it probably always will be. It was a masterful updating of even then-dated motifs and tropes, a romantic tale of adventure, a coming-of-age tale par excellance, a singular statement on the state of politics in the 60’s, and the landmark novel of the ecological age of that our culture has been working itself towards ever since. Hunters and Sandworms are not only unworthy of shelf space near Dune, they shouldn’t even be used as library door-stops.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at November 18, 2009 08:21 AM