After seeing The Lady Downstairs to the Kenmore bus stop (she had to return home in order to do some reading on fraternal correction for an Aquinas reading group dinner/discussion tonight), I went to the BU Barnes and Noble. After skimming through some magazines, I went upstairs to the philosophy section, to see what titles by Habermas were available. Nothing I was interested in, though there was a copy of Truth and Justification, but I didn't really feel like skimming through it, since it didn't seem susceptible to a quick skim (a review of the book by Richard Rorty). Perhaps I'll go to the Coop or Harvard Book Store to see their Habermas selections.
I came back downstairs and the science fiction section caught my eye--specifically, the Dune section. I had read the first four novels, but not the last two finished by Frank Herbert, Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune. I knew Brian Herbert (in collaboration with Kevin Anderson) had written some prequels, like House Atreides, but I had read a lukewarm review, so I wasn't interested in those works. Besides, the Dune universe is a morally iffy one, and certainly there is no sign of a transcendent God, even if it handles some popular sci-fi themes in an epic and memorable manner. (I don't think Herbert was one for elaborate details--he certainly leaves a lot for the imagination, and I think this helps, rather than hurts, the novel.) In fact, religion (institutional or otherwise) is seen to be a means of manipulation of mankind, with the justification that those doing the manipulating are doing it for the sake of human progress and evolution. (Certainly, in the Dune universe, humans can improve themselves and create new powers through intelligence and the application of technology, such as genetic manipulation--another prominent theme within sci-fi. In fact, the powers that are acquired in the Dune universe might even be said to be "divine" or "godlike." There's no obvious and consistent account of what moral progress is and how it is to be ultimately--no endorsement of Enlightenment ideals here--it may be that Leto II's Golden Path is a path to peace, which will be achieved by balancing opposing tensions within human nature [and overcoming external enemies], and that peace is the best that we can hope for, while individuals pursue their own private interests. Such as indulging in spice addiction. Is consequentualism, and a consequentialist understanding of benevolent despotism, the moral system that resonates the most with the book? )
Review of The Butlerian Jihad
Working from materials left by his father, Brian Herbert published The Road to Dune in 2004, which has some "deleted scenes" from the novels, plus some short stories. Might be important for a fanatic. I took a quick look, perhaps I would borrow a library copy...
I skimmed through parts of Hunters of Dune, the first of two volumes which promises to wrap up the Dune series and tie all the various plot lines together, as well as answer the questions of Dune fans. It wasn't bad. The second volume, Sandworms of Dune, is scheduled for release September 2007. Fans complain that the writing of the son doesn't match that of his father; what should one expect? Unfortunately in this universe (not like the Dune universe), memories (and imaginations) can't be transferred. I don't think there are "notes" or "sayings" or the like at the head of each chapter--an indication that this is really the end? Or a lack of creativity?
Official Dune website (Dune 7 blog)
wiki: Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert, Dune
various interviews with Brian Herbert: space.com; ugo.com; SF Site; about.com; Sci-Fi weekly; SciFi Dimensions
More Dune links
Sci-Fi channel's Dune; Children of Dune
Childen of Hurin
Speaking of unfinished works that have been completed by the author's children--in case you haven't heard, JRR Tolkien's unfinished Children of Hurin has been edited into a complete work by his son Christopher, and will be published next Spring.
I was just reminded that when we passed by Sonsie I saw two middle-aged Asian women (Korean? Japanese?) drinking something and chatting inside... attractive? Perhaps... but typical middle-aged look with lots of make-up, really red lipstick...