The Dune films: The Mt. Everest of SF films remains unconquered

Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013 documentary; actual movie never filmed)

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It was inevitable that Dune captured the imaginations of film directors, but the scale and complexity of the story made the transition to film extremely difficult. Film rights were acquired in 1971 but little progress was made until 1974, when a French group acquired the rights and Alejandro Jodorowsky, a Chilean avant-garde film maker, writer/poet and spiritual figure most famous for his 1970 bizarro Western El Topo and The Holy Mountain. His ambitious plans for the film would have reached about 12-20 hours in length, and featured roles for Salvador Dali (lured by ego-stroking), Orson Wells (lured by food and drink), David Carradine, Pink Floyd, Magma, and even Mick Jagger. The artwork would involve the legendary Jean Giraud (of Moebius fame) and H.R. Gi... Read More

Bill, the Galactic Hero: Very amusing

Bill, the Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison

I once met a woman in a bookstore who was in the process of buying Harry Harrison's 1965 classic Bill, the Galactic Hero. She told me that she'd read it many times already, and that it was the funniest book ever. Well, I've never forgotten that conversation, and had long been meaning to ascertain whether or not this woman was right. It took me almost 20 years to get around to this book, but having just finished Bill, the Galactic Hero, I must say that it is very amusing indeed.

In it, we meet Bill (no last name is ever provided), a simple farm lad on Phigerinadon II, who is shanghaied into the galactic emperor's army to fight in the war against the lizardlike Chingers. And what a grueling odyssey Bill goes through before all is said and done! He experiences a boot camp from hell, serves aboard the starship Christine Keeler and is almost killed, gets lost on the plane... Read More

Dune: The greatest SF novel of all time

Dune by Frank Herbert

Paul Atreides is just fifteen years old, and small for his age besides, but he’s not to be dismissed. Paul is bright, well trained, and the heir of House Atreides. Paul’s father, Duke Leto, is an exceptional leader who commands the loyalty of his subjects with ease, thus earning him the respect of his noble peers. Consequently, the Emperor has assigned Leto a new task: control of Arrakis, or “Dune,” a desert planet that is home to the “spice,” a substance that allows for many things, including interstellar travel. The only thing standing in his way is House Harkonnen, hastily characterized as a family of red-haired, pouty-lipped, extremely cunning sadists.

Frank Herbert’s Dune is now considered a masterpiece of science fiction, but if its setting were only slightly altered, it would be universally considered a monumental work of fantasy. It certainly offers everything a... Read More