Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sci-Friday: The Quotable Dune

It would appear that I am once again late to the party, but better late than never.

While waiting for my stepson to get out of work this afternoon, I turned on the radio to catch the last few minutes of NPR Science Friday. Though I rarely have the opportunity to listen for as long as I'd like to, the news is timely and the stories are often about subjects of which I have little background knowledge. It continues to be exciting to learn new things, and as someone who laments having not paid more attention in high school and college science classes, Science Friday feels like a joyful penance.

The few minutes that I did catch consisted in part of host Ira Flatow reminding the audience that the summer read was going to be concluding next week. Though I have not been part of (nor was I even aware of its existence) the NPR Science Friday Book Club had the past three weeks been focusing on one of my all-time favorites, Frank Herbert's classic Dune.

I immediately regretted having missed the opportunity to follow the conversation, and quickly made a note in my pocket notebook to tune in next week when Ira, Kim Stanley Robinson, Sara Imari Walker, and Annie Minoff wrap up the discussion. At the conclusion of this past Friday's broadcast, Ira also reminded listeners to head to the Sci-Fri Blog and "Record yourself reading your favorite quote from Dune." Upon hearing this prompt, my mind immediately went to the slim volume on my bookshelf picked up at a used bookstore over ten years ago, The Notebooks of Frank Herbert's Dune.
Published in July 1988 by Perigree Trade,
with atmospheric cover by Raquel Jaramillo.

Not really a notebook at all, The Notebooks is a collection of excerpts and lines culled from Herbert's six highly quotable completed novels. Edited by his son, Brian, this 63 page paperback offers quotes in both standard font as well as key "ancient quotes" and "historical documents" from the Dune Universe elegantly illustrated by Raquel Jaramillo.

I've posted previously about the similarities between the modern media phenom that is George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones and Dune. While one series of novels intentionally touches on environmental and social issues, and the other has a stronger predilection with sex and violence (you guess which is which), and series both are chock-full of intriguing characters. Fortunately for the reader, these characters are given numerous memorable lines of dialogue which are easily isolated for use as witty sayings or intellectual-sounding observations by the reader with a sharp memory for such things. (Of course, the same observation could easily be made regarding J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth novels--as evidenced by the myriad twitter feeds that regularly share the author's lines--but that is a post for another time.)

The majority of the memorable lines from the A Song of Fire and Ice novels primarily reflect the characterization and wit (or lack thereof) of the specific characters, most notably Tyrion. (Not surprisingly, Tyrion's lines have also been collected into a single volume!) In contrast, lines from the Dune series have an additional weight given the political perspectives of both the characters and (by extension) the author which they communicate.

After reading through The Notebooks of Frank Herbert's Dune, choosing a single quote would be challenging, given that the books are an embarrassment of riches when it comes to such excerpts, and it would be tough not to go with perhaps the most well know, the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear:

In preparation for next week's final book club meeting, I'm going to make the effort to catch up with the conversation before Friday at 2 p.m. To do so, I plan to spend time this coming week with my well-worn copy of Hebert's Dune and reading through RebelMouse blog online. Fortunately digital bread crumbs have been left behind so even those, like myself, who are late to the party, can catch up or at the very least make up ground!

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