I borrowed this book from my Mum, who will read just about any form of science fiction, or historical novel, come to that;
Is this just a phenomenon that exists in the science fiction genre; children of the original authors taking on the mantel of their parents and adding to the series themselves? It’s such a curious thing to do… and sort of touching. But not, I’m afraid, ultimately successful.
The original author of the Dune series is of course, Frank Herbert. I read Dune when I was about 14-15 and wow what a book! It totally blew me away- it was so real. He made this incredible future of mankind seem absolutely plausible. It was the first book that really made me think about politics and it’s relationship with religion and trade; heady stuff.
At that young age, I was a quiet and shy person:
-yep that’s me with the big hair-
which is why I remember vividly making the whole class laugh in year 10. I was reading the fourth in the series of Dune, ‘God Emperor of Dune’. I had loved the first three books, they had plenty of action and intrigue, but the fourth was a large novel and cumbersome to read. My memory of it was that it was about the boredom and rigidness of ‘the Golden Way’ which the God Emperor, Leto, has imposed on the universe, and it conveyed this a little too well for my liking. Anyway, I was reading this at the beginning of the Geography class and as the class all filtered in, the Geography teacher noticed and asked me how I found it.
‘Tedious’ I said, without looking up from the pages. He laughed, and the class all laughed too, and I looked up, surprised to find myself the centre of attention for the first time ever. And sort of pleased, as if I had said something clever or intentionally funny, when actually I was just being accurate.
So I was interested to read this new novel, written by Frank’s son, Brian Herbert and a collaborator, Kevin J Anderson. It is a prequel to the original Dune and although the premise is okay, the execution is clumsy. A good writer never has to tell you a character is dignified, or untrustworthy, or compromised, or anything else; they can imply all of these things from their actions or speech or the reactions of the other characters. But Brian and co. feel they must spell it all out for you and the result is that the writing is unbearably clunky. Anyway, suffice to say, I found this book unreadable. Sadly.
Another huge name in my world, at a slightly younger age, around 13 on, was Anne McCaffrey with the Pern series.
Oh, I longed to live on Pern with a dragon as my companion and soulmate. Anne wrote many in this series and I avidly read them all. In later years, she wrote many prequels. And now her son writes them. And both Todd McCaffrey’s books and his mother’s later books lack the fire of her original series, I’m sad to say.
So as far as writing as an inherited trade goes, so far, no ticks from me.
And it also makes me wonder about that curse of the first novel, or in these cases, first trilogy. Where a writer is so on fire and all guns blazing with their initial creative output and then struggles to reach those heights thereafter. How discouraging that must be.
Which means if Leo or Max ever take over writing this blog, it’ll probably be no good. Ha.
And also, this is the best it’s going to get for me. Damn.