During the course of my fairly boring existence I have indulged in one pleasure, sex! No, I’m talking about reading. I have read more books and authors than I can begin to recall, from classics like Shakespeare and Wilde, to utter rubbish like the Red Dwarf novels. I will read just about anything.
In august 2012 I will be 44 (and if someone would like to work out the Dune date BG I would actually be interested to know) so I will be approaching ‘old’, and apparently that brings wisdom. I have read serious science fiction since I was nine years old. I started with Isaac Asimov, moved on to Philip K Dick, revelled in Douglas Adams and then in a moment of glory I discovered Frank Herbert’s Dune.
The word is so powerful it deserves both its own paragraph and surrounding lacunae.
During my late teens and early twenties I had a brief period of confusion where I dallied with James Herbert and Terry Pratchett, but I soon came to realize that Frank’s work was unparalleled, and so I gave up all the minutiae and returned into the warm comforting joy of the Dune universe.
By the time I was thirty I had read all five books repeatedly. Ah, five you ask? Yes, I did have a problem with Chapterhouse. I could never get into it. I tried time after time but I wouldn’t finish it until I was 43, and nothing could have made me happier.
You see I fell so deeply in love with the Dune universe that I longed, and I really am talking about longing, for a continuation of this marvellous story. And then along came Kevin J Anderson and Brian Herbert. I was initially skeptical. I mean, how could anyone else write this story? Could Dean Koontz write a sequel to I, Robot or Bicentennial Man? I doubt it.
And so we come to the point.
When I was 23, in 1991, I was living on a fruit farm in the sheer beauty of the English countryside. I had nothing, just a tarpaulin tent, a kit bag and three books: Dune Messiah, Children of Dune and God Emperor of Dune. I was reading the latter at the time and what I would like to explain here is that this was one of the happiest times of my life, but the book was entirely integral to the memories I formed during that time. Now, I’m not saying that I lost touch with reality, but as much as I remember kinging apples and communal evenings with a weed and a jug of cider, I remember Siaynoq, and D-Wolves and Duncan being splattered by the Tyrant. The two sets of memories cannot be unwound. They form part of my life in wonderful tandem.
So now, when I read God Emperor, I can feel myself back there in front of that fire, or in that field, and it is a wonderful thing. This happens for one reason. Frank’s books were so good that they became part of my life.
And so here it is. I cannot remember the first book I read by the dastardly duo. Seriously, I have no idea which it was, where I was or what I was doing. How old I was or whatever the hell happened in that book.
I find that disturbing.
This is why I hate the McDune books. They had no impact on my life whatsoever.
And why was it that I was so happy that I could never get into Chapterhouse? Because after reading the utter rubbish from Anderson it was sheer joy to read Frank again.