Hunting Harkonnens – Starting it All

Exploding spaceships, a mad escape from thinking robots, boiling mud? Wow, that sounds like some great material for a short story. They are the basic elements of Hunting Harkonnens, the very first story in the entire Dune chronicle. And while the end result might not be the most exciting story, it is a great introduction to the basic ideas of this early Dune universe.

Every series has to start somewhere. And, of course, the Dune purist will say that Dune starts with Dune–the original series as written by the venerable master Frank Herbert is all there is. Full stop. Well, I don’t belong to that camp. I want to embrace the whole Dune universe, even if some of it doesn’t really fit nicely with the original novels. Remember, the events of Dune take place a very, very long time after the events of Hunting Harkonnens and the books of the Butlerian Jihad series. So, things that don’t agree with the original series can be dismissed as details lost in the mists of history rather than mistakes by the authors.

Hunting Harkonnens begins with the elder heir of the Harkonnen family, Piers, and his parents returning to Selusa Secundus after visiting some of their holdings on the planet of Hagal. (All familiar names to Dune fans.) Somewhere above the sparsely populated planet of Caladan, the Harkonnens are intercepted by a small fleet of thinking machines, neo-cymeks and the great Titan Agamemnon. Piers escapes to the planet’s surface where he eventually finds shelter with a small tribe of natives. The climax is quite exciting, but ultimately changes little in the Dune universe. Nonetheless, we now know a Harkonnen was stranded on Caladan long before the Atreides family arrived.

The most common criticism levelled at the Dune books and stories written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson is that they aren’t well written. I have said so myself on several occasions. However, after rereading Hunting Harkonnens with fresh eyes (and having, unfortunately, read some truly terrible books last year), I can honestly say I think Herbert and Anderson make a pretty good team. Sure, they aren’t at the level of the elder Herbert, or Issac Asimov or even Dan Simmons, but they are good writers. They have laid a good foundation for the first book (so far!) in the series The Butlerian Jihad.

Hunting Harkonnens is currently available in the book Road to Dune.

That’s a Lot of Sand

Back about 20 years ago I fell in love with Dune. I don’t remember who introduced me to it, or why. It could have been my cousin, who got me reading great fantasy and sci-fi novels, or it could have been a chance purchase at the book store. Either way, the 25th anniversary edition of Dune found its way into my hands sometime around 1993. I was a young teen, and I think the book was a bit over my head at the time. But it still influenced me a great deal.

My Dune Novels

My Dune Novels

Over the years I’ve read Dune around 15 times. That is no exaggeration. My copy is well loved but still in good shape (I am very, very careful with my books). I’ve also read all of the sequels and prequels, with the exception of the last three books to be released (Road to Dune, Winds of Dune, and Sisterhood of Dune).

I was also lucky enough to find a copy of The Dune Encyclopedia (which gets less cannon with every new book released), Dreamer of Dune (the biography of Frank Herbert, Dune Pop-Up Panorama Book (without the free standing pieces) and The Notebooks of Frank Herbert’s Dune. I think I might have a comic book and a colouring book somewhere too.

So, one of my 2013 goals is to (re)read the entire Dune chronology. Right from Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s Hunting Harkonnens all the way to Hunters of Dune. I know that the newer books don’t compare to the genius of the original, but I love the universe so much. I can’t wait to immerse myself in it again.

Oh, and for the record, my favourite novel is Dune followed by God Emperor of Dune.

New Year and New Goals

Well, goodness. It’s been ages since I’ve posted and, as I’m sure you have guessed, lots has happened. My focus has been on my needlework blog, and this blog has surely suffered because of that. However, now that Stitching Lotus is so pinpoint focused on needlework I need a place for my other ramblings. Back to The Lotus Pond I go.

The first few months of 2013 will see a redesign of this blog. I will be making the Wicca and Tarot information much easier to find and access. I will likely not be expanding the Wicca information, mainly because I’m in a bit of a spiritual rut right now. (Hey, we all have them!) The Tarot section will eventually see new material, and I hope to also add a section on LeNormand oracles.

My other project for 2013 is (re)reading all of the Dune novels in chronological order. But more about that tomorrow.

NewYearAdventure

So, onward into the great unknown of 2013!

Campers ready?

It’s August 1st, and time to start Camp NaNoWriMo.

So far my story is nothing more than a bunch of notes and a vague idea of who my main character might be. Doesn’t bode well, does it? But, hey, at least my butt is on a chair in front of a computer. August has 31 days, right?

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Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day!

The video below is a beer commercial from the 1990s. It is silly, but at the same time captures a bit of what it means to be Canadian.

Check out my other blog, Reflections in the Pond, for another one of my favourite feel-good-about-Canada videos.

Planning

Well, now that the excitement of finally committing to writing the damn novel has worn off, I have to admit that I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. There is so much to do before August: plot outline, character sketches, background research, etc. Unfortunately, real life responsibilities and promises are going to get in the way for a little while, but I have started thinking.

I’m pretty sure the basic plot is going to be about inter-dimensional travel, possibly with a time travel thrown in for good measure. (Yes, I hate the whole trope of time travel, but I have an idea. And I did say that the novel was going to be terrible, remember?) I’ve also got an idea for a personal theme to tie things together for the main character. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet figure out who (or what) the main antagonist will be.

My next step is to read Bullies Bastards, and Bitches by Jessica Page Morrell to get an idea of just what sort of villain I might want to have in my novel.

Don’t forget, I’m still looking for sponsors. Even $5 would be helpful. The people behind NaNoWriMo do great work, and are worthy of support.

Camp NaNoWriMo

Yesterday was my birthday. It was a big-ish one, not a 0 birthday, only a 5. But it was big enough to make me think about just what I’ve accomplished in my life. I know that I am really lucky, but there are a few goals that I really haven’t worked towards at all. Writing a novel is pretty high up on the list, and now it is about damn time I do it.

Enter Camp NaNoWriMo. Conveniently enough, the email for Camp NaNoWriMo arrived in my inbox yesterday, smack in the middle of my somewhat pathetic navel gazing and birthday-related whinging. (I believe I said that I would no longer be celebrating birthdays. I still want presents though. ;) ) So, I’ve made the commitment to write my damn novel this August.

If you’d like to show you support me finally trying to accomplish a lifelong goal, why not donate to the Office of Letters and Light, the people behind NaNoWriMo and other literacy and writing programs. They are a U.S. non-profit, so any donation made by Americans will be tax deductible. (Sorry, Canadians. You just have to be happy doing a good deed. And I’ll get a cool pen if I get $50 in donations.)

Click here to donate.

What’s my novel about? Well, I’m not totally sure yet (which is why I’m not doing Camp NaNoWriMo in June). It will probably be sci-fi of some sort, and maybe have something to do with multiple dimensions. All I can guarantee is that I will work my arse off and that it will be awful. ;) How can you not want to support that?

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In My Craft

I have a confession to make: I just discovered a poem that I absolutely love. Yes, I know that I have spent this month writing about how much I hate poetry. Well, that was before I had heard any Dylan Thomas.

My new favourite poem is In My Craft or Sullen Art by Dylan Thomas. In it he describes how he writes for the sake of writing, not for money or recognition. I know that many of us can relate to this, whether our sullen art be writing, knitting, or playing music. There is a deep drive that impels us to practice our chosen craft.

The full text of the poem can be found here on Wikipedia (it is still under copyright, so I have not reproduced it here). I’ve also imbedded a YouTube video of Thomas reading the poem. It is very powerful, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Money Bags

I’m pretty sure that dreaming about winning or inheriting large sums of money is something that people all over the world indulge in. Sure, we all know that to be happy with life we must first be happy with what we already have. But, honestly, isn’t it nice to daydream about being able to afford or do anything?
Gold Bars

The next prompt in You Can Do It! is: What would you do if you won the lottery, and money were no object? It is seems appropriate that I’ve come to this prompt on that day that the winners of the huge Mega Millions jackpot was announced. After taxes (something that doesn’t happen up here in Canada), they get about US$35 million each. That is a nice addition to anyone’s bank account.

So, if I won the lottery I would first invest a large enough portion of it in a manner that would provide me with a sizable yearly income to live off of. I would then purchase a large (but not huge) house near some body of water, with a pool and new furniture for myself and for my parents. (Separate houses. I’m not crazy.) I would also make sure I had enough money set aside for the little man’s schooling, and for unforeseen emergencies. Eventually, I would take one of the Grand Voyage cruises around the world, in the best cabin on the ship, of course. Lastly, I would sit in my tastefully decorated home office/craft room and write.

Hmm… I might also open a cross stitch and knitting store. One that specializes in non-wooly yarns for us allergic people.

I would also donate money to causes like anaphylaxis awareness, MS, and breast cancer. And, if I still had money left over, I would work at bettering my neighbourhood and city in many different ways (beautification, day care for working parents, health care, etc.).

Lovely dreams, all of it. Some of it is within my reach, even without winning the lottery, if I am willing to work for it.

Taking Pride

I’m very slowly working my way through the first badge in You Can Do It!. So slowly that I haven’t progressed much at all. I’m going to have to get my own copy, because there is no way I’ll be able to keep the library copy long enough!

One of the things I am supposed to consider is the proudest moments of my life. In taking stock, I realized that the most recent ones centre around my son. Just last week, I was so filled with pride when he laid perfectly still while the dental hygienist cleaned his teeth (and I don’t mean a quick polish, I mean a full teeth cleaning). The way he was able to hold still and put up with an unpleasant situation was amazing. And while this is obviously something that is part of his personality, I did have a part in it and I am amazed and proud by it.

Some of my previous proud moments include graduating high school (something my parents didn’t do), getting accepted into university, graduating university, and doing particularly well on assignments at work. I’ve also been very proud of some of the things I’ve made, like my first pair of knit socks and the teddy bear I recently sewed for my son.

Hmmm, I’m starting to think now that perhaps part of the point of this exercise is to consider the kinds of things I would like to be proud about in the future. So, let’s see: writing a novel; creating a couple of knitting patterns that other people actually knit too; designing a couple of cross stitch patterns that I’ve been thinking about for ages; raising my son into a well-adjusted adult. Some of these goals may be more long-term than others. ;)