Spice

March 24, 2020

He who controls the spice controls the universe.

Frank Herbert
Dune

Religion and politics

March 1, 2020

When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movements become headlong – faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thoughts of obstacles and forget the precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it’s too late.

Frank Herbert
Dune

Dune had to be made. But what kind of spaceships to use? Certainly not the degenerate and cold offspring of present-day American automobiles and submarines, the very antithesis of art, usually seen in science fiction films, including 2001. No! I wanted magical entities, vibrating vehicles, like fish that swim and have their being in the mythological deeps of the surrounding ocean. The ‘galactic’ ships of North American technocracy are a mouse-gray insult to the divine, therefore delirious, chaos of the universe. I wanted jewels, machine-animals, soul-mechanisms. Sublime as snow crystals, myriad-faceted fly eyes, butterfly pinions. Not giant refrigerators, transistorised and riveted hulks; bloated with imperialism, pillage, arrogance and eunuchoid science.

Alejandro Jodorowsky
Jodorowsky’s Dune

In December 1974, a French consortium led by Jean-Paul Gibon purchased the film rights to Frank Herbert’s epic 1965 science fiction novel Dune and asked Jodorowsky to direct a film version. Jodorowsky planned to cast the Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí, in what would have been his only speaking role as a film actor, in the role of Emperor Shaddam IV. Dalí agreed when Jodorowsky offered to pay him a fee of $100,000 per minute of screen time.[26] He also planned to cast Orson Welles as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen; Welles only agreed when Jodorowsky offered to get his favourite gourmet chef to prepare his meals for him throughout the filming.[27] The book’s protagonist, Paul Atreides, was to be played by Jodorowsky’s son, Brontis Jodorowsky. The music would be composed by Pink Floyd and Magma.[26] Jodorowsky set up a pre-production unit in Paris consisting of Chris Foss, a British artist who designed covers for science fiction publications, Jean Giraud (Moebius), a French illustrator who created and also wrote and drew for Métal Hurlant magazine, and H. R. Giger. Frank Herbert travelled to Europe in 1976 to find that $2 million of the $9.5 million budget had already been spent in pre-production, and that Jodorowsky’s script would result in a 14-hour movie (“It was the size of a phonebook”, Herbert later recalled).[28] Jodorowsky took creative liberties with the source material, but Herbert said that he and Jodorowsky had an amicable relationship. The production for the film collapsed when no film studio could be found willing to fund the movie to Jodorowsky’s terms. The aborted production was chronicled in the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune. Subsequently, the rights for filming were sold to Dino de Laurentiis, who employed the American filmmaker David Lynch to direct, creating the film Dune in 1984.

(Wikipedia entry for Alejandro Jodorowsky)

Dr Who and Dune

December 12, 2017

Dr Who, then, is sci-fi, while Frank Herbert’s Dune is not. Dune, you see, is about ecology, anthropology, sociology, etc, etc. Dr Who is just about giant worms (and things that jump out and suck your head off in the dark). If you think Dune is just about giant worms too, you are being cynical and obstructive, go to the bottom of the class.

M. John Harrison
book review column in the New Manchester Review

Forces we don’t understand

September 2, 2017

Forces that we cannot understand permeate our universe. We see the shadows of those forces when they are projected upon a screen available to our senses, but understand them we do not… Understanding requires words. Some things cannot be reduced to words. There are things that can only be experienced wordlessly.

Frank Herbert
Heretics of Dune

savage decisions

January 15, 2016

godemp

I know the evil of my ancestors because I am those people. The balance is delicate in the extreme. I know that few of you who read my words have ever thought about your ancestors this way. It has not occurred to you that your ancestors were survivors and that the survival itself sometimes involved savage decisions, a kind of wanton brutality which civilized humankind works very hard to suppress. What price will you pay for that suppression? Will you accept your own extinction?

Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune