Dune Messiah

Foxbat

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I remember feeling as if Dune Messiah was merely an extra chapter to Dune more than anything else. I did like it and was glad I persevered with the series as a whole because I felt God Emperor was almost as good as Dune.

I could never really grasp the significance of 5 and 6 (unless all they were doing was to set the stage for the prequels written after his death).
 

Brian G Turner

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For me, what's missing from Dune Messiah is a lack of structure and consistency. The chapters are episodic but don't really progress anything much - I suspect most could be read in a random order. I also get the distinct impression that Herbert was getting lost in his own psychedelic experiences, thinking that he was touching on profound social truths, but instead meanders and muddles his points.

Children of Dune and God Emperor of Dune both have a better sense of progression, but again the consistency is missing: Alia has ancestral memories of all previous Bene Gesserits - no, wait, it's actually a molecular memory allowing her to access the memories of anyone she's related to - but simply ends up pouting her way through the story regardless.

God Emperor has an undercurrent of something profound having been witnessed to force Leto's decision - but Herbert never explains what it is, except in the most vague terms.

What really comes across so far is that Herbert didn't have a general story arc for the series, resulting in ad hoc developments and a lack of depth.

Anyway, I seem to have started Heretics of Dune, so I may as well go all the way through to Chapterhouse.
 

Toby Frost

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I do think that Dune isn't an easy read at all, and that anyone who could manage it wouldn't be put off by the lack of obvious villains in Dune Messiah - at least not to the extent that they would think it was objectively worse for not having them.

It's funny, though, where people's limits lie. It just occurred to me that I've never "got" Doctor Who, and I probably never will.
 

Onyx

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What really comes across so far is that Herbert didn't have a general story arc for the series, resulting in ad hoc developments and a lack of depth.
Frank Herbert did not write series that looked like series. Destination Void, Jesus Incident, Lazarus Effect and Ascension Factor are also very different books connected by being in the same history, but not as a clear progression. Same with Whipping Star and Dosadi Effect. The Dune books could also be viewed as a bunch of different stories connected by one minor character - anyman Duncan Idaho.

No one needs to enjoy this quality to his approach to series; it certainly isn't what we expect of a series and it can disappoint. Heretics and Chapterhouse read more like a single book and are more "fun" in the way Dune is.

Alia has ancestral memories of all previous Bene Gesserits - no, wait, it's actually a molecular memory allowing her to access the memories of anyone she's related to
Just a minor point of order - no one has all the Bene Gesserit memories - in all cases it is either through lineage or Sharing. Paul, Leto, Ghanima and Alia have a mix of lineal memories and Shared memories from Reverend Mothers in that lineage - most recently Gaius Helen Mohiam, Alia's grandmother, at the moment of Jessica's conception.


I do think that Dune isn't an easy read at all, and that anyone who could manage it wouldn't be put off by the lack of obvious villains in Dune Messiah - at least not to the extent that they would think it was objectively worse for not having them.

It's funny, though, where people's limits lie. It just occurred to me that I've never "got" Doctor Who, and I probably never will.
There are plenty of reasons that people won't like the Dune series. For some it is just a hard slog of a read from Dune on, for other's it is the lack of a series feel (how many series have books that vary in size that much?) or just the fact that Herbert isn't interested in recreating Dune five more times. For him, Paul was a pivotal moment in his future history, and the rest of his characters strenuously attempt to prevent a recurrence. Like real history, the books play out as unique series of events - just like how we haven't had another Roman Empire.

I like all the books because I like what was on Herbert's mind - but he's talking about theories of human interaction that are speculative - like writing a critique of an art movement that has never happened. That's why I love about SF literature - most SF fans probably do not. I don't really get Gene Wolff - but I wouldn't claim it is because Wolff is bad and his fans are mistaken.
 

Vince W

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I remember feeling as if Dune Messiah was merely an extra chapter to Dune more than anything else. I did like it and was glad I persevered with the series as a whole because I felt God Emperor was almost as good as Dune.

I could never really grasp the significance of 5 and 6 (unless all they were doing was to set the stage for the prequels written after his death).
The problem with Heretics and Chapterhouse (5 and 6) is that they were meant to be concluded in 7, but Herbert died before he could write it. And the drivel published my the Dynamic Bozos did nothing to complete what Frank was trying to finish.

I truly feel that if Frank had managed to write the 7th book a lot of what happened from GEoD on would have become clear. All those hints and suggestions brought to fruition.
 

Foxbat

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The problem with Heretics and Chapterhouse (5 and 6) is that they were meant to be concluded in 7, but Herbert died before he could write it. And the drivel published my the Dynamic Bozos did nothing to complete what Frank was trying to finish.

I truly feel that if Frank had managed to write the 7th book a lot of what happened from GEoD on would have become clear. All those hints and suggestions brought to fruition.
As somebody who read all the stuff after his death through to the bitter end (and bitterly regretted it afterwards), I tend to agree with you. The enemy hinted at in 5 and 6 would probably have been similar to what appeared in Sandworms and Hunters but I think the conclusion would have been handled very differently.
 

Stephen Palmer

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Agreed. There was something in volumes 5 & 6 that very much wasn't in 4.
A great shame he couldn't write the concluding volume.
 

Al Jackson

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I really didn't like Dune Messiah. It felt disjointed and directionless, which most chapters being nothing more than characters in a room talking about nothing much of substance.

Any sense of conflict tended to be vague: Paul thought he could see the future, only to be surprised by everything; Alia thought she could see the future, only to be surprised by everything.

A book as exceptional as Dune was always going to overshadow any sequel - but Dune Messiah undermined itself by reading more as a stream of consciousness than a constructed story.

However... am I being unfair about it?
I looked forward to Dune Messiah , it was serialized in Galaxy Magazine in 1969 , did Campbell turn it down?
I was sore disappointed , the story went from a ripping-yarn to , as you say, directionless and gloomy. My expectation was that we would get Paul's Jihad, it was off stage! What the hell.
Later years we did get the Paul of Dune from the franchise , started out ok then fell flatfooted dumb!
We actually never get Paul's Jihad , I have no idea why Herbert's sequel is so lackluster , is it because he did not have all those fix-up letters from Campbell??
 
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