by Joe Coluccio, Parsec President
I’m the kind of dope that spent one whole summer seated at the dilapidated picnic table in my backyard. A true pain in the ass to swing your legs over the bench seats and under the rain worn planks. Breathe a sigh of relief and realize you are trapped in a leg lock that prevents you from getting up to answer the phone which is in the pocket of your jacket in the dining room and rings the minute you settle in. A deep thirst envelops you, and there is no easy way to hop to the refrigerator to get a cold drink. Then the pressure in your bladder forces you to stand, untangle your twisted legs and slip on the grass as you move in a frenetic drum tattoo to the bathroom for relief. And I think it’s gonna rain today.
It takes me a short week, but I figure it out. Load up a backpack with water, a c-store variety of snack food, a towel to swat at the insects or wipe my brow, phone in the front flap, the first six Frank Herbert volumes of Dune under all, don my topee, and make the long trek down the steps, cross the basement, and out into the wilds of long grass and weed. Through the doldrums of summer, without a breeze to freshen the sail, adrift in a Ruritanian universe, I read.
I believed, in a younger day, when my stride was more vigorous, the best way to judge a book was by its heft. Dune, so judged, is one heck of a work. The series is a monument.
“Dune,” “Dune Messiah,” “Children of Dune,” God Emperor of Dune,” “Heretics of Dune,” and “Chapterhouse of Dune.” I munched and worked my way through “gholas,” “mentats,” “freman,” “sandworms,” “Bene Gesserets,” and wondered if bathing in Melange would turn me into a Steersman.
I have to admit that my forward momentum flagged about halfway through Dune Messiah, but I muscled through and got to the end of the original books by mid-summer. Then I picked up the six then existing novels by Herbert’s son. “House Atreides,” “House Harkonnen” and “House Corrine” which I thought were interesting as back story. “The Butlerian Jihad,” The Machine Crusade” and “The Battle of Corrin” wore me down. Luckily the final six “Hunters of Dine,” Sandworms of Dune,” Paul of Dune”, “The Winds of Dune,” The Sisterhood of Dune”, and “Mentats of Dune” were not available at the time I was reading. They all sit on the shelves in my basement, and I suppose I will be driven to read them. I mean, what else am I doing?
The further removed my reading experience is from viewing the David Lynch movie “Dune”, the better I like the film. The Sci-Fi Channel rendition was a more literal adaptation, but the special effects were inferior and somewhat irritating. The third film version, a documentary about the first attempt at adapting the novel into film, “Jodorowsky’s Dune” is exquisite. Jodorowsky created a storyboard that is thick with illustrations and notes. As the story is revealed in the documentary, Dune is created in your mind. What I witnessed in those couple hours was far more memorable, and a far grander vision and appreciation of Dune than would ever have been created had the movie been made.