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An interesting Dune concept


TMA_1

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One thing I thought about today that struck me as extremely brilliant is that Dune looks at a future where there have been cultural downfalls and climaxes. THat when we actualyl read Dune, we are reading about the human race that has gone through dozens of different cultural revolutions. The evolution of society is extremely complex and most science fiction that is based far into the future takes it in a really linear way. Many times there is a pretty shallow climb from nationalism to internationalism stemmed by a world war, but the culture is still extremely western, if the universe were real we could enter into that kind of universe without any culture shock.

That is why when I have thought about the future, and making a story of science fiction, I always picture the distant dreams of space travel being accomplished long after western society has died. I have even pictured images of where western society falls and technology evolves in a completely different way from the fallout. Even then another culture of that future might fall and so on. I have even thought of the fact that maybe there is a plataeu of how far we really can go without falling. Like the romans, who by the 3rd century A.D. had many of the technological abilities that 19th century europe had. And notice that the romans still relied on slave labor because though they had great and extremely complex machinery, theo nly self sustaining energy sources they used really were water power. Only one real tinker of technology that we knew of flirted with the idea of steam power, and that was just for a fancy.

I think this is why I have always thought of Dune as being a more "realistic" sci fi book, not because it is itself inherently realistic, but because the concepts are real to life. Good stuff.

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Totally agree with you.

One thing I thought about today that struck me as extremely brilliant is that Dune looks at a future where there have been cultural downfalls and climaxes. THat when we actualyl read Dune, we are reading about the human race that has gone through dozens of different cultural revolutions. The evolution of society is extremely complex and most science fiction that is based far into the future takes it in a really linear way. Many times there is a pretty shallow climb from nationalism to internationalism stemmed by a world war, but the culture is still extremely western, if the universe were real we could enter into that kind of universe without any culture shock.

Because I watch more sci-fi than I read, I see what you mean about "linear", say, in Star Trek (tho, that's not too far into the future). I see the western model in lots of visual sci-fi.

At the time of Maud'Dib and the Tyrant (and 10,000 years before), we see a regression into an ancient form of government, because it is thought that mankind finds this form most comfortable and useful. I forget the long German word Herbert uses... "A place for every man, a man for every place". How many thousands of years did it take to find this "level"? What kinds of governments, and human organizations & experiments, lived and died before the Great Revolt?

Even though this system is empire-wide, we have individual entities with different forms. In Heretics and Chapterhouse (with the Old Empire pretty much gone), we see the BG form of government in more detail, along with the Bene Tleilax. We don't get much on Ix and the Guild, but I'm guessing it's different than the set up of the Golden Lion Throne. The human universe of Dune can be very shocking.

I have even thought of the fact that maybe there is a plataeu of how far we really can go without falling. Like the romans, who by the 3rd century A.D. had many of the technological abilities that 19th century europe had. And notice that the romans still relied on slave labor because though they had great and extremely complex machinery, theo nly self sustaining energy sources they used really were water power. Only one real tinker of technology that we knew of flirted with the idea of steam power, and that was just for a fancy.

One of the reasons I love the Bene Gesserit is that I think they are working for this "plateau" you are wondering about. I am going to butcher this quote from James Madison, but basically... "If all men were angels, there would be no need for government". I think that is what must happen to reach that plateau... we must all become angles (not literally, of course). The BG, in their own way, are working towards that. And for us all to live to our fullest.

About the Romans... I read that at one point during the empire, all the parts to build the steam engine were in existance... but they never came together. Imagine if the steam engine had been invented that long ago...wow! Maybe it had something to do with slavery, which seems to hamper innovation?

you're right, good stuff!

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Perhaps one of the most impressive feats of the imperial political system was its longevity. The tripod essentially lasted right up until Leto II, and even after that a shade of the old system was present in his tyranny. This may not seem relevent, but politics is all part of culture. Culture is art, politics, invention, religion, superstition, philosophy, language... (All of which changed during the course of the novels) And one of the most interesting features is that the Imperium was made up of differing political structures that nevertheless blended together. The autocratic approach of the Great Houses, the theocratic Tleilaxu, the almost certainly technocratic Ix. Even the Bene Gesserit practiced a form of democracy. These systems differ greatly in their methods, but under the umbrella system of the tripod (which could be argued to be a form of oligarchy) they survived and practiced their ideologies for centuries. The development of these seperate-yet-whole systems would make for fascinating reading, and is yet another sorely lacking topic in the prequels.

I don't think Dune witnessed a cultural downfall exactly, just a change. From autocracy to even harsher autocracy followed by the messy post-scattering system held together by the Bene Gesserit. It could be argued that the Imperium, in lasting so long, had already reached the plateau of government. On the other hand, it was brought down in the end. The Encyclopadia argues that the survival of the Old Imperium was largely due to the people who ran it, rather than any inherent strengths in the system itself. This would certainly be true of the Tyrant; but given that the Old Imperium lasted so long, it is difficult to believe that its survival was due to successive generations of brilliant leaders.

In any case, I think it is more Dune's complexity than its realism that I find endearing. I don't really like the way I've phrased this reply, so maybe I'll work on it more later. I should have been studying for Tuesday's test.

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yeah man, the politics are so intricately weaved together with everything in the story. The politics of Paul and his retaining the status of Duke while being the messianic leader of the Fremen, the balance of keeping the fremen secret with the aid of the guild, the interplay of the landsraad. The coolest thing is we only got a fraction of the politics played. The politics alone made the book a must read, but goodness there are so many deep parts to the book! I have to read it again.lol

I shouldnt have said culteral downfall in that blunt kind of way. What I mean is there were uplifts and changes in the cultural history of the human race throughout the book, so when you are reading Dune, not only is it around 20000 years into the future, but culture is totally different. I love that archaic feel, it is so brilliant that the human race was so advanced that they reached a stage beyond that of living with thinking machines, and abandoned them for religious purposes. 20000 years in the future and they are melding the old with the extremely new, so that some things in the Dune universe seem kinda primitive, but in all reality it is just trying to live without the means of conscious computers. Navigators and Mentats replace thinking machines, machine helpers with intelligence are replaced with automated robots that purposefully dont completely resemble human beings, and have no real intelligence.  THe Tleilaxu are even more staunch about it and their technology is so alien! it is just brilliant. I love too how the Ixians, who are unknown to us as they are unknown really to almost everyone, obviously have high technology in their hidden sanctuary planets. Just think that on their planets, the tradition and history of a bygone era 10000 years ago probably thrives, with thinking machines, high technology, and a scene probably beyond the dreams of any standard sci fi ideal... brillant stuff

There was obviously a limitation after the Butlerian Jihad and the Great Convention. The people had to find ways to continue interstellar space travel quickly enough to keep the known universe together, they had to find ways to build ships, structures, advanced technologies without the aid of high computers, or computers that remotely resembled intelligence. So their technology is just weird and bizzare, I love it.

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