This is the first time I've ever read a series of books one after the other and I find it remarkable how immersed I am in Herbert's universe. As the l...moreThis is the first time I've ever read a series of books one after the other and I find it remarkable how immersed I am in Herbert's universe. As the last of his series (I won't count the ones written by his son and others), I feel a prolonged sadness.
Like the other books in the series Chapterhouse reads like a future history, drawing heavily from our past. I found it remarkable how I could apply the various statements made by characters to modern governments today. The Bene Gesserit protagonists in this book were formerly the antagonists in the previous books, having learned mankind's need for 'good' government.
When is government good? When it's fair? When it makes the most people happy? What if happiness is derived from non-sustainable circumstances? Again, this book left me with more to think about than any science fiction I've read ever before. (less)
I wonder now how my high school friends were able to deal with this series when it challenges many of the thoughts floating around in my middle-aged b...moreI wonder now how my high school friends were able to deal with this series when it challenges many of the thoughts floating around in my middle-aged brain. Apart from the loose plot line, the book talks about the nature of political governance, religious governance, the nature of free will, sex as a form of enslavement, immortality, the genetic inheritance of memories, the nature of being, the nature of time...
It's supposed to all be science fiction, but here's the rub. Years after this was published we are having trouble proving that we actually have free will. Studies indicate that we have some knowledge of the future, the kind of prescience talked about in the book. The more we learn, the less fantastical this book seems to be and the more prophetic.
Star Trek-style science fiction gave us new devices which scientists and engineers continue to develop in real life. Dune gives us philosophy and perhaps a preview of the future of human development. Too often we think of our species as finished to perfection and rarely does science fiction advance our species beyond a few gimmicks. I remain thoroughly impressed by Herbert's universe. (less)
I have to say that not since reading the Histories of Herodotus have I considered government from such a grand scale before. So many movies and books...moreI have to say that not since reading the Histories of Herodotus have I considered government from such a grand scale before. So many movies and books tell the tale of the young rebel that overthrows the evil and misguided government, but few stories delve into what makes a good government. Clearly no single thing makes a perfect government, not monarchy, not democracy, not a finely tuned constitution... none of these things; at least none of them alone.
What kind of thoughts are these for someone who has just read a science fiction book? Deep ones indeed. The depth of the Dune saga goes beyond any science fiction universe I've ever ventured into. It has its heroes and villains of course, but along the way there is a lot to consider. Why is the hero heroic? Why is the villain villainous? Is there anything really wrong with the government? Well read on and decide for yourself.
My skin is not my own! This oft repeated phrase takes the Dune story to depths that I would not have imagined. Science fiction has a terrible habit of...moreMy skin is not my own! This oft repeated phrase takes the Dune story to depths that I would not have imagined. Science fiction has a terrible habit of breaking its own rules... or breaking the ONE rule, e.g. crossing the streams, reversing the polarity, etc. to solve the problems of the story's hero.
Here in Dune we're still left wondering who the hero is and while we're wondering the rules of the Dune universe are taken to extreme ends (something that never happens in sci-fi), where new technology is born of the old and that technology is exploited to its fullest.
When I was finished, rather than wondering what it would be like to blast an alien with a laser rifle, I was pondering the nature of monarchical governments vs. constitutional ones. The need, or lack thereof of religion in a state. The nature of time and time/space. The art of negotiation. The existence of free will. Knowledge as genetic inheritance. The power of mind... The list is endless. These books provide constant food for thought. All superb.(less)
I was so terribly impressed with the first book in the Dune series that I've decided to read my way through it; all the way through. Dune Messiah, the...moreI was so terribly impressed with the first book in the Dune series that I've decided to read my way through it; all the way through. Dune Messiah, the second book in the series was naturally not going to be as good as the first because of all the loose ends that it was obliged to tie up. Our boy hero, come emperor of the universe now actually had to do the job of being emperor. Where's the fun in that?
What is incredible is the book's depth. We get to go deeper into the political factions that vie for control of the universe, some imagining that they are humanity's only hope for survival. With such high stakes, the characters are willing to sacrifice themselves to their political ends and often do. I was happy to be re-immersed in this universe and expect to stay immersed as I make my way through this fantastic set of books.(less)
When my good friend Russel handed me this book to read I think he assumed that I'd read a LOT of Heinlein. I thought I had too, but apparently, there...moreWhen my good friend Russel handed me this book to read I think he assumed that I'd read a LOT of Heinlein. I thought I had too, but apparently, there is a lot more to drink in from this prolific writer. To Sail Beyond the Sunset was drawn from all sorts of his previous works that you would think were disparate being in different times and basically different universes.
It all comes together with the wife and mother of one of Heinlein's very common characters, Lazarus Long. Maureen is... difficult to describe; extremely sexually liberated by 2012 standards, but lived through the turn of the 19th century; biologically immortal (more or less); genius level I.Q. and fearlessly brave. Throw in incestuous, a polymath, a polyglot, a mother of dozens of children, and a righter of wrongs on several time-lines and... well it was an ambitious book. I recommend it only to people who've read more Heinlein than me.(less)
Another alien encounter with a species so superior to us that they consider us to be just a little bit more advanced than bacteria... sigh. While I di...moreAnother alien encounter with a species so superior to us that they consider us to be just a little bit more advanced than bacteria... sigh. While I didn't connect with the deeper currents of the book's philosophy, I did find it to be a fun romp through time. About 3/4ths the way in we had Alexander's army lining up against Genghis Khan's horde. What's not to like about that? This would be enjoyable reading for any history buff.(less)
Well, I'm not a fan of juvenile (teen) fiction but I had a copy of this and read it anyway and found that parts of it were quite enjoyable. The normal...moreWell, I'm not a fan of juvenile (teen) fiction but I had a copy of this and read it anyway and found that parts of it were quite enjoyable. The normally dry subject of diplomacy gets a very enjoyable and even at times hilarious treatment. I wonder how many wars in our human history could have been averted had they the use of Heinlein's apparent mastery of diplomatic protocol. (less)
Well... it was ambitious in it's own way and had many interesting elements, but it lacked the depth that a sci-fi geek craves. It needed more characte...moreWell... it was ambitious in it's own way and had many interesting elements, but it lacked the depth that a sci-fi geek craves. It needed more characters OR perhaps more technology to get lost in or hung up upon. Instead the same characters reappear again an again, albeit in an interesting way, but there are very few surprises. The outcome could be guessed by chapter 2. Oh well... it was a fun read.(less)
Once again, I've started a trilogy at the end. This book is set in the center of Niven's universe, a galaxy with a half dozen major space-faring races...moreOnce again, I've started a trilogy at the end. This book is set in the center of Niven's universe, a galaxy with a half dozen major space-faring races including humans. As an installment, perhaps this book is brilliant, but unfortunately as a novel it doesn't hold its own. The action has to pause continually to explain the back-story behind a character or the pseudo-science behind a technology and when we get back to the story we behold the back-story being manipulated in a new way that saves the day for one character or another.
Hemingway would hate Niven. Nothing stands on its own. Of course in the end the good guys win, the bad guys lose (but not completely) and all the hooks for a follow up novel are left in place. It left me longing for another Asimov or Clarke sci-fi romp.(less)
I like science fiction and I love Heinlein. Clearly I don't mind sexual mores discussed in a sci-fi novel, but this book's premise was just silly. A m...moreI like science fiction and I love Heinlein. Clearly I don't mind sexual mores discussed in a sci-fi novel, but this book's premise was just silly. A man ends up in a woman's body... has sex with everyone! A novel based on a bawdy one-liner had trouble holding my interest. The presence of another soul/person inhabiting the body was interesting, but for sci-fi there was no reason given for the inheritance of the second mind.
Later in the novel when a third mind inhabits the same brain I had to roll my eyes... a lot. We were no longer in the domain of science fiction but rather some kind of spiritual fantasy and the suspension of my disbelief (required for enjoying fiction) was lost completely. At this point, I started to look backward at the novel for a lesson and could not find one. Perhaps people should have more sex with more people? Perhaps the world is getting more and more violent? Perhaps brain transplants are more complicated than just the medical science? I'm not sure what I was supposed to understand the ultimate moral to be.
Leave in the brain transplant, take out the sexual whatever it was and add in an alien invasion which is foiled by our male/female hero who's unique blend of genders gave her an advantage and this might have been a novel worth reading. Otherwise I'd direct a reader to older Heinlein classics.(less)
Well, I'm giving this book perhaps more stars than it deserves. It asks the question "What is sentience?" When a new race of bipedal organisms on a fo...moreWell, I'm giving this book perhaps more stars than it deserves. It asks the question "What is sentience?" When a new race of bipedal organisms on a foreign planet is discovered, this question becomes a lot more important than just a zoological evaluation of our friends the primates.
Does the question get answered? I don't think so. The author does answer it and everyone is happy with the answer, but I wasn't. I'm not sure the answer excluded our primate cousins here on Earth. We just simply don't count anything other than humans as sentient... which probably bodes ill for any encounters we may have with alien life.
A better book along these lines is Stanislaw Lem's "Solaris". Here we're not dealing with a bipedal mammal, but rather an organism that is truly impossible to anthropomorphize, yet obviously vastly intelligent. This book asks another of the great scientific questions... what is life?
Ultimately, I think that Little Fuzzy would have probably asked this had the author been more ambitious, and despite the lack of ambition, I'm sure that at least 100 Star Trek episodes owe this book a debt of homage for even having taken the time to examine the subject.(less)