04-13-2007 06:55 PM
In your favorite SF novel or story, is the conflict tightly or loosely related to the SF idea? List the name of the work, the author, and then explain.
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04-14-2007 04:56 PM
But it can be grown in only one place--Arrakis, or the desert planet Dune, a harsh and challenging environment. The possession of the planet is (at the beginning of the book) under the control of one of two warring clans, the Harkonnens, who have terribly mismanaged it. The Emperor gives control of it to their rival clan, the Atriedes, but it is a tainted offering.
When the Atriedes take possession, trying to bring justice and order to the society there, the Harkonnens teacherously attack, with the hidden support of the Emperor, who really wants the Atriedes to fail since they can rival his own power.
The attack succeeds, but the son of the ruling duke and his mother survive, and make their way into the desert and make allies of the native tribes there, the Fremen. The son must fight to prove his suitability and then raise the tribes of Fremen to confront the Harkonnen and the emperor by taking control of the planet and its spices.
With everyone against them, the House Atriedes and the Fremen form an excellent source of conflict in the book. Paul Atriedes, the heir, must overcome obstacle after obstacle that puts his life and the future of the galaxy at risk. This life and death conflict makes the book excellent, a real page-turner that keeps you wanting more.
04-16-2007 07:05 PM
In other words, would the story survive if the addictive spice was replaced by something else? I suspect that the politics etc. would survive the switch, but how those politics play out would be different, which means that I think the answer is "no." So the next step is to ask what specifically is it that connects the story and the sf idea? That means, I think, that we must ask: how does the spice's "gift" of prescience, etc., affect the plot of the book?
04-17-2007 07:49 PM
You are right about the spice's power of presience being a real focus of conflict in _Dune_, and especially in its sequels. Paul's handling of prescience, especially his desire to avoid the great destructive Jihad which will unfold after the freemen go off-planet in his name, is a great source of his mixed emotions at the end of the book. It adds layers and layers to his character.
His gift of prescience also reinforces the religious fervor of his supporters, pushing against his desire not to be seen as a God-figure. More layers and layers.
Prescience plays an even greater role in the following sequels (Like _God Emperor of Dune_), when various members of the Atriedes, including Paul himself, attempt to locate its limits and to live with the knowledge of foreknowledge. I really liked the ingenious idea about a blinded Paul using the power of his prescience to see with as a normal person, right up until the point in which his gift fails him.
This is the neatest of the sf novums that Herbert created in _Dune_.
04-24-2007 10:53 PM
So in general, I don't think the conflict is too tight with SF idea. There are a vast amount of SF flavors and concepts, but they're so natural in this world that it's easier to relate them to non-sf elements.
04-26-2007 10:59 PM
OK. I'm going to have to get the books out and look up names and stuff. Suffice to say that the conflicts and desires are inextricably bound to the ideas and the ideas are pure scifi.
04-28-2007 01:35 PM