Dune final thoughts

So I finally finished Dune – the sci-fi classic which has clearly influenced the likes of Game Of Thrones and most other popular sci-fi stories since. I had two final thoughts on why it is so impressive and resilient to this day as a gripping sci-fi story.

First – The characters are super, but the world in which they inhabit is the real star of the show. A character on its own merit, Arrakis dominates any event in the book. Just as ‘winter is coming’ in GOT, the extreme weather and awesome beauty of the desert planet is what the main characters have to come to terms with to fulfill their destiny. Though it is a completely different sort of novel, I am seeing a similar strong focus on setting and location in the book i am currently reading: “The Knowledge” By Steven Pressfield.

The impressive depth of the cultures, languages and religions created by the author in Dune are second to only Lord of The Rings in my experience. I marvel at the time this and dedication this must have taken from Frank Herbert. It gives the story authenticity and reflects back to the reader our own clan like behaviour and superstitions here on earth.

Dune is magnificent. Well worth the read and the reputation it has gathered.

A great reading list

In case you missed it – check out this excellent website dedicated to all of Seth Godin’s book recommendations over the last decade (hint – he makes great recommendations!)

As a Godin junkie, this is incredible. I am just getting used to my re-found Kindle too, so this is perfect timing!

I enjoy particularly the filtering options. So useful and makes the whole site more manageable.

Dune update

Following on from my previous posts, Dune is becoming more than a pleasant read for me, it is so good that I am treating it as a sort of Sci-Fi guru and teacher. A reference book to refer to when creating futuristic worlds.

Its scale and scope started out very large and wide – moving between two planets, explaining complex political relationships, alien life forms, technologies, religions and histories. However, passing the half way mark the author has chosen to zoom in on a few characters, killing off a big presence Ned Stark style, and focusing on subtlety and detail in the characters and their particular situations. It’s very absorbing!

This ‘zooming in’ technique (for want of a better word) has been a revelation to me and I plan to try and use it in the future.


Any problem you have…

…is probably fixable.

Think about it. Humans have cured polio. We discovered bacteria. We put people on the moon. We have cell phones which are as sci-fi as you can imagine. They let me talk to someone in China…if I so choose. So progress happens if we want it to, but it is not automatic.

In my personal experience, I am learning that there are two key components of creativity and progress.

First, I have to accept that progress will bring with it unintended consequences. These can be positive: For example back in the day we learned about atmospheric pressure which allowed us to create vacuums which allowed us to create combustion engines to push trains down a track. But they can also be negative: those combustion engines spit out pollution of all sorts. Personally, to become more creative has led me to quit unsatisfactory jobs, to learn about publishing, marketing and blogging. However it has also led me to become super self-critical. This is good sometimes in a work context, but it can impact other areas of my life. I never expected this as a side-effect.

The key for me is that progress is always better than the alternative, which is stagnation. It is a truth which I have had to get my head around. Stagnation is easier but far more destructive to my life. I think this applies universally to our race.

Next, for progress to occur, there needs to be focus. This may be internal – are you sure of what you are trying to achieve? Are you putting in the time and work? Or it may be a matter of collaboration. Do you have another person who will help you progress? I am learning that focus essentially means aligning of habits and habitual behaviour. Mine were all out of whack before I chose to be more creative.

I find it comforting that there are broad rules and conditions for progress. It helps my creativity and keeps pushing me on to fix problems each day. What helps you make progress?

De La ChimpWithCans

To those of you who don’t know, I’m a chimp who likes to listen to music while I write. The Bantam civilisation implanted a chip into my brain when they invaded Old Earth. The chip allows us animals to understand human language. While I still can’t talk with the humans (as some of the other animals are able to do) I can understand what they say. This means I have to listen to people as they quibble and argue all over the place. It also means that a huge back catalogue of human music is now accessible to me. A regular old chimp with modifications, I am now a blogger and a music junkie.

On the cans this morning is the De La Soul album from 2016. This is a wonderful sound. Beats to jump up and down to, guest appearances all over the place to make me screech and grin my wide chimpanzee grin. I love a good album and the fact that this was funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign makes it even more satisfying for some reason.

Variety of voices from Usher to David Byrne keeps this album interesting. Lyrics and rhymes mixed with audio scenery give it depth.

A most pleasant listening experience for this chimp. Now it’s time for me to find some bananas for breakfast.



Smugglers Of Earth – 5

When the Shepherd Trolls came to Old Earth, they wept like babies. The Trolls snuck in through a small portal left open by the Bantam civilization. Expecting easy spoils, what they found was full scale warfare which had turned Old Earth into a frightening place. Before they could retreat back through the portal, it had already closed. A Shepherd Troll is not brave, and when it is in tears it sounds like a howling monkey. Hiding for months, once the humans evacuated and Bantam rule was established the Trolls could move more freely. Collecting spells, treasures and goats as they travelled, the Sodom of Trolls grew to a healthy size and Lughar proved himself the most canny and ruthless of the group. It was his idea to take Robert Johnson from the circus.

As the storm of the century stopped, sensing that something was not right, Lughar made his way underground. Using a large stick with a green flame as a torch, Lughar stepped through uneven corridors and rickety structures down into the abandoned mine which had been turned into a Troll cave. Walking steadily deeper underground, faint music started to fill the air.

Gotta keep moving, Gotta keep moving

hellhound on my trail. Mmmhmmm, hellhound on my trail”

The corridor flattened out and after three more right turns, Lughar stopped at a small wooden door and pulled a big iron key out of his pocket. The song was clearly emanating from behind the door, vocals of a tortured soul rising up through the cave. Lughar smiled viciously, turned the big lock and opened up the door. The music stopped suddenly.

Lughar stepped into the dark, cold cell and grinned at the sad scene in front of him, “Mr Johnson, you missed quite a storm up there. But don’t worry, we’ll make sure you stay nice and wet down here”

A trembling voice came out the darkness, along with the distinctive clink of chains, “Oh s…sorry boss, I’m s…. s …so …sorry boss….was i too l….l….loud with the singing boss?”

Lughar thrust his torch of fire into the cell, illuminating the head, arms and chains in front of him. “Stop your snivelling!”

Robert Johnson was a 75 kilo orangutan. He was Lughar’s most valuable treasure.

Dune update

Over the weekend I have been away on plane flights and had evenings alone in bed and breakfasts which has given me time to get further into Dune.

What a book!

The flaws in the father’s character are becoming apparent, and the interactions with the local Fremen are adding an extra dimension to the tale.

It is such an engaging book, I think of it like a microscope which is gradually zooming in closer and closer to the inevitable war and dangers on the planet of Arrakis. Detail and nuance is getting more and more….well detailed! and Nuanced!

There is no turning back for any of the characters, only forward into the desert.

Love it.

Smugglers of Earth – 4

The Nexus Space Station sat in orbit 400 kilometers above the planet of Bendaiir. The size of a small town, The Nexus was large enough to hold 500 people comfortably in its 4 quarters. Much smaller cruise ships and freighters came and went at regular intervals. Delivery ships docking to the mothership. Every few minutes, the Nexus fired its massive boosters to keep from being pulled down out of orbit by old earth’s gravity. Attached behind the body of the Nexus was a sort of interstellar trailer with hundreds and hundreds of bright blue capsules of varying sizes. Like a massive tray of eggs being pulled behind the ship.

At the helm of the Nexus, Captain Maddox was leaning over a communication device growing increasingly frustrated at the reception. “Hello? Marlon? Smuggler 1, do you read?”

“It’s the storm sir, they say it’s the storm of the century. Likely to go on for many hours still.” Marcus the engineer was pushing buttons and reading lists of code from the multiple screens on the dash board as he spoke. “I think it threw our co-ordinates off too. Last reading we had of the Smuggler, he was at the bottom of Colm Naiir. We wanted to port him to the top for the view.”

The Nexus was created in a moment of crisis. In the year 2200 The Bantam Civilization opened a portal to old earth, leaving the planet open to a classic Bantam siege. First the large, strong and alien Bantams had negotiated with the frightened humans, taking minerals and metals by the ship load through the portal, enriching a few humans and draining the planet at an alarming rate. Then water and food became their priority.

Desperation grew on old earth but any resistance by humans was quashed by the Bantams with advanced weapons and magic. Lakes dried up, forests turned to farmlands with no human access. The Bantams intended to bleed the planet dry.

In a panic, the UN and all banking organizations of old earth diverted all funding to a full scale planetary migration. Humans managed to find a habitable planet, pack up and leave with startling success and haste. What they left behind was the animals.

Increasingly endangered and prized throughout the galaxy as rare hostages, pets, and zoo exhibits – old earth’s biodiversity was on the edge of disappearing. Old earth’s red list of endangered animals had hundreds of species with less than 5 individuals accounted for. Nexus was created to smuggle the most endangered animals to safety. The most advanced weapons and transportation technology made the Nexus a formidable ship, able to move freely through the Milky Way. Blue pods cryogenically froze the most endangered animals of old earth, ready for space transport and introduction to the manufactured biospheres of new earth. But first, the animals had to be found and saved. The strategy was to smuggle the animals away from captivity and have them ported up to the Nexus. Sometimes the animals were captive on old earth. Often they were in the far flung planets of the Milky Way. Planets such as Bendaiir with its shepherd trolls.

Captain Maddox let out a frustrated sigh and bowed his head, “I guess all we can do is wait it out then?”

Marcus nodded, “That, or maybe he can use a card. If not, those trolls will get more and more rowdy. Not good smuggling conditions though, and a potential danger to the asset.”