Well January has come to an end and with it another Vintage Science Fiction Month is in the books! I wanted to pop by with a quick update on how my month went…
This was my first year participating in Vintage SciFi month and I have to say I enjoyed it. Had I not joined in I probably would have put off reading the two books I read forever, which would have SUCKED and I wouldn’t have known it.
I kicked off the month with The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. You can read my review here. If you didn’t guess by reading the review (or if you didn’t read it) I absolutely loved this classic science fiction war story. My most succinct summary was simply “so. damn. good.” Not much else needs to be said. I’d been meaning to read The Forever War for a while but just never got around to it. Once I decided on participating in Vintage Science Fiction Month however I knew I couldn’t make excuses any longer. For this book alone I’m glad I took part. If you’ve never read it and decide to participate next year I highly recommend it.
The second book I read was Frank Herbert’s science fiction classic Dune. The organizers of Vintage Science Fiction Month decided to do a #ReadDune group read and I thought it would be a fun experience. We read a portion of the book each week then had a group discussion (my group did it on Twitter). The first time I read this book was a little over fifteen years ago when I picked up my wife’s copy and I only remembered the basic outline of the story so I was pretty excited about giving it another go.
Now, I’m gonna say something that’s gonna upset some of you. It might even keep me from being invited to your next party (which is fine cuz I’m getting old and probably shouldn’t be partying anymore), but <in a whisper> I didn’t like it as much as I’d hoped. I mean I loved parts of it, but the ending really disappointed me. I’m probably not going to write up a review of Dune but I will explain just a little…
What I Loved About Dune
I absolutely loved the world-building. From the desert planet of Arrakis (Dune) with its ecology, to the mythology and blended religions undertones, to the cultural distinctions of the Fremen over and against everyone else, to the political currents, to the language, to the characters, I loved it all. I also kinda loved how many of the typical plot spoilers were front loaded leaving you to wonder just what the hell Herbert was going to do with the rest of the story.
What I Didn’t Love About Dune (may include a spoiler or two)
How it ended. There was this long build up to the end going through phases of Paul’s evolving experiences, slowly developing from him as a teen on a new world with a planet sized prophecy hanging over him to fleeing to hide out among the Fremen, to eventually leading them in a planet-wide revolt against the emperor himself. And then it just basically ends after one little knife fight against a minor character. It seemed very anti-climactic.
I also was really disappointed that my favorite character, Paul’s sister Alia, doesn’t show up until the last quarter of the book and even then barely gets any page time. What little time she gets is pretty cool, but I really wanted more of her character. She’s mysterious, strange, and just a little scary.
Maybe more of this plays out in the numerous books that came later in the series. I’ll definitely try the next one and see how it goes. Like I said, I was disappointed in Dune because it didn’t seem to rise to my expectations (which is something to be wary of when reading books) and it didn’t live up to my memory (which could just be saying more about me than the book). Ultimately I didn’t hate it, but I wouldn’t rate it at 5 stars either.
I’m glad I returned to Dune (even if I was disappointed) and I’m really glad I read The Forever War which has officially gone on my list of favorite science fiction books. I also really enjoyed the little bit of online discussion I was able to participate in as well as getting to see what stories other participants were reading. So yeah, I definitely plan on participating in Vintage Science Fiction Month next year. I even have a few ideas for what to read already.
I know it’s a long way off, but keep an eye out in November/December for posts advertising next year’s event. It’d be cool if a bunch of you joined in with us.