Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tim Gallivan

Tim Gallivan, if you lost something on a bus in Boston, please leave a comment to this entry...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Page counts and such

Two things have happened since I last posted about my Dune readings.

1) I have purchased the latest addition to the Dune saga, Paul of Dune.
2) I have found out that there are at least three more books to be released.

The first was a planned thing. The second surprised me considerably, as I was led to believe that Paul of Dune would be the last book to be released. But we will get to that in a minute. I haven’t done the math on my pages per day, or scheduled end date in a while, and am excited to do that.

Oh, before I do, I think that I messed up last time and assumed a start date of June 14, when it should have been July 14th. So I no longer trust the details from at least one of those entries...

But, let’s do some math, shall we?

Okay, books that I have completed since July 14th, 2008:
Butlerian Jihad
Machine Crusade
Battle of Corrin
House Atreides
House Harkonnen
House Corrino

And I’m on page 59 of Paul of Dune. That brings our total to 4,852 pages. This happens to be a nice round date today, with the total number of days since my July 14th start is 120 days. So, 4,852 divided by 120 = 40.433 pages per day. Not bad, in my opinion.

Now, with the total pages being 8,163, that means there are 3,311 pages left. If I maintain my pace, I should be completed in 82 days. And that brings us to a nice round February 1st, 2009.

My very first estimate was for March 12, 2009, so we are definitely picking up speed.

I would like to point out that I was VERY happy to make it back into the original Dune book. After thousands of pages of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson, it was very very good to be back to the original. I honestly believe that my reading of that book gives me the same sense of awe and peace and comfort that christians get when reading the bible. Except I understand that what I am reading is fiction...

Now that I am back on Brian’s and Kevin’s books, I can tell you that they have improved after years of writing for the Dune universe. The second chapter of Paul of Dune was something I had thought about for years, and was fantastic to finally read in a book. The basic premise is that Fremen are desert people. They have never seen open water, nor have they experienced rainfall. However, their difficult living situation has turned them into fantastic fighters. Once they establish themselves as the rulers of the spice (which is what allows the known universe to travel, etc) they go on a jihad to gain control of all of the planets. Of course, what all Dune freaks have always thought of is the fact that many planets will have water forces to deal with, however, Fremen have never seen water en mass! So the second chapter is a quick story about the first Fremen that were taught to swim...

With regard to the upcoming releases, at first I was a little ticked off because I started this whole thing because Paul was supposed to be the last book. Now there are three more. But, all three are books that expand on an individual character in the novels as opposed to trying to extend the story in either direction. I actually find it to be an interesting idea. And if I said I wasn’t going to read them, you all know I would be lying.

Anyway, I hope to scorch the February 1st timeline. I have a couple flights coming up for Thanksgiving that should help out. I would like to be well under the 3000 remaining pages mark before then, and would love to be nearing the 2000 remaining pages mark by the end of Thanksgiving weekend.

If I can do that, I have a decent shot at beating February 1st.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Getting Through The Legends

1,557 pages done. 2 books completed. 53 Pages into The Battle of Corrin. 6,606 pages across 13 books remaining.

The Machine Crusade ended well, and the short story that was at the end of it was required reading before going on to the next book. While I gave mediocre reviews of the start of The Machine Crusade, it picked up steam and had some very nice twists and turns all the way through the second half.

Overall, I’m quite satisfied with how it’s going. I must admit to being sick of the robot Erasmus. I just don’t see the real need for some of the crap integrated into the story. It could be a lot cleaner, and it feels like they use his character just for shock value at this point. Personally, I would enjoy the character if they kept him more philosophical instead of trying to come up with more and more horrifying things for him to do.

Okay, going by this pace, I have 178.2 days of reading left. The pace has picked up a little. We’ll see if I can maintain. After the book I’m currently on, I will get into a stretch of books that I have already read. Will be interesting to see if that picks up my pace or slows me down...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Walking Without Rhythm (Updates on Dune Saga)

969 pages in. 7,194 pages to go. The Butlerian Jihad (the book) is complete. And I'm 265 pages into The Machine Crusade. 13.667 books remaining.

This in my first time reading The Machine Crusade, and I'm enjoying it. But I do find that there are a number of times in this book that the author(s) is(are) writing a summary of what has already happened. Words for the sake of words. It made sense to me when reading Philip K Dick, because he would get paid by the word. But authors with this much experience shouldn't have to resort to that type of page filling technique.

Sticking to the my primary motivation, which is gleaning the stories that lay the foundation for the Dune universe, I enjoy it. It does a good job of trying to play religion off of government off of military, but it will never be done as well as Frank Herbert did it in the original six books.
But the exposure to how the personal shields and Holtzman engines were created is nice. I'm digging the groundwork for the Ginaz swordsman training facility. You can definitely see where the Bene Geserit are going to come from, but it's not quite there yet. The universe is now exposed to The Spice Melange as a recreational "drug", and is loving it. But the Atreidis and Harkonnens are still getting along, so something will have to happen there!

The books do an interesting job of trying to lay down how thinking machines would act, think, speak, etc. And they try to talk about circuits doing this or that. Blah blah blah. I don't need it. I don't believe that AI's would have half of the thoughts described in this book, but that's the programmer in me speaking. I can get past it.

Overall, I'm glad that I am finally reading these books from the Dune universe that have been kicking around. But, so far, if I were to talk anybody into reading the Dune series, I would still say to start with the original Frank Herbert books. If you REALLY dig those, then go for these preludes.

I REALLY dig the originals, so I'm digging the preludes just as backstory.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Why The Spice Must Flow

The spice mélange.

A friend of mine recently asked for a description of the spice mélange as it is found in the Dune universe. The spice is considered to be a vital food/drug of the empire. Even though the original Dune was written in 1965, there is an obvious corollary to oil as the spice is only available on one planet and the production/harvesting of mélange holds a direct influence on the economy of the entire empire.

The spice is used by almost all of the populace in the empire for various things. As a food additive, it does add flavor and is actually a food source on its own. Habitants of Arrakis (Dune) have been known to survive on pure spice in times of need. However, its life-extending properties are what most other citizens of the universe use it for. In continual small doses, it extends a human’s life span to (I believe) just over 200 years.

However, this is not the main impact that the spice has on the economy. When taken in heavier doses, mélange will have a heightening effect on an individual’s awareness. Because of this effect, it has become integral to the dominant religious group called the Bene Gesserit. As the Bene Gesserit take the spice in heavier doses more regularly, the addictive nature of mélange grabs hold, and withdrawal is something all Bene Gesserit fear.

This heightened awareness is integral to another group's functioning, as well. And this is where the true economic influence comes into play. Guild Navigators pilot transports from star system to star system by “folding space”. Transports are massive ships large enough to contain and transport hundreds of space ships within its holds. They use an engine that is capable of folding the space-time continuum and touching two points thereby placing the transport in two locations at the same. This allows for near instantaneous movement across unlimited distances, and this is what is truly vital to the economy of the empire. Otherwise, it would take months/years to travel between even the closest of planets.

Guild Navigators literally immerse themselves in tanks filled with spice in a gaseous form to heighten their awareness to a point that will allow them to perform the calculations required to prevent the transports from reappearing in the middle of a planet or some other catastrophic misplacement.

The spice holds more relevance in the development of the epic that is the Dune series, but that is the general situation that a reader will encounter when starting the books.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Golden Path

10 days along and I am 325 pages into my Dune marathon.

I don’t believe that I’ve mentioned it in my (infrequent) blog entries, but I am something of a Dune freak. By that, I mean that I have read the original Dune books, multiple times. By multiple times, I mean the first three have been read five or six times, and the last three have been read three or four times. I have also read most of the newly written books.

I first read the first three Dune books (Dune, Dune Messiah, and Children of Dune) while in high school. I enjoyed them, but I must admit that I didn’t get everything out of them. I was just a bit too young to really see all of the layers. I read them again at around 20 years old and finished the whole set of six.

That was when I saw the power of these novels. Frank Herbert did an unprecedented job of weaving all aspects of human life into an epic that spans millennia. Not an easy task to do! His methods of playing government and military off of religion and superstition to form an empire that had risen in rebellion against robotic rule 12,000 years prior to the first Dune novel was so intricate and fascinating that I could not help but read them all again…and again…

And I have continued to do so for a good decade and a half since then. I will frequently cause my friends’ eyes to roll when I announce “I’m reading Dune again”. I actually read them repeatedly enough that I had to force myself into a hiatus. About two years ago, I established that I needed to expose myself to more than the sci-fi books that I was reading, and specifically avoid the Dune series for a good bit of time. It was good, and necessary.

But it is time again.

Now, I will never claim to be a fast reader. That has never been my goal in reading any book, never mind this particular series that I prefer to nibble on and savor. But the series has grown. Frank’s son Brian found a number of Frank’s notes, and he has taken up the mantel. He first wrote three books that immediately preceded the original series (I read those three). He then wrote three more books that outline the robotic oppression and human rebellion that took place over 12,000 years prior to the original Dune novels (I read the first, but not the second two). Then he wrote two more books that follow Franks outline for what was to be the conclusion of the original Dune novels (I have read the first of those two). In September, he has the final book coming out that actually takes place in the small span of time between his first three, and Frank’s original books.

You will notice that the writing of the books is very scattered in the chronological sense. But the book slated for September is supposed to be the last one written, and that inspired me to get back in to the fold.

This time, however, I want to be sure I read ALL of them. And will be following the timeline in order. That will be 15 books that span over 20,000 years.

Eight thousand one hundred sixty three pages.

Yes. 8,163 pages.

10 days along and I am 325 pages into my Dune marathon.

That comes out to 241 days left…

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Playing god

So Spore's Creature Creator has been released for only $10. I must admit that this thing is a lot of fun. I've made about a dozen creatures so far, and they can be seen here:

I'd like to remind those of you that are creating creatures, that there needs to be some creatures that are not overly complex. Please be sure to create some interesting simple creatures taht will be able to be used in the earlier portions of the game!