This is a list of items that makes for good writing that was generated and agreed upon by Orthodox Herbertarian and Prequelite alike. I guess we can just take them one by one.
1. Attention to Detail
This doesn’t work out so well for BH & KJA. As we have seen numerous examples of details that don’t quite add up with what FH wrote. (Paul’s Birthplace; FTL engines; Tleilaxu behavior; science of genetics in regard to waterworms; Teg’s superspeed; the golden path; etc. I don’t think I need to go on.)
2. Revision (it's what turned Spice Planet into Dune)
Aside from editing out messages to each other (as I noticed was still left in my copy of one of the interquel short stories) this is a hard one to tell. But based on accounts by KJA himself, we know that once he records his story and has it typed up for him that most of the editing seems to be a series of re-reading for typos by both of the authors. We also know that they rely on a small force of “test-readers” to tell KJA how AWESOME he is. I don’t see much evidence of an evolving story; pretty much just a fleshed-out outline with little attention to philosophical/religious/political/environmental issues that FH seemed to care so much about.
3. Trusting your reader.
Another easy one. With constant repetition, we are never left to our own thoughts for long. As evidenced in the thread (FH didn’t “fill in the gaps” on purpose) we see that readers actually like being able to figure some things out on their own. Not only that, we are even being treated to all of the things that FH chose to leave out of his best-selling, influential story (Interquels).
4. Knowing your audience
I think there can be some room for discussion here depending on what you think the audience is or should be. They have shown a complete lack of understanding of FH’s audience, but seem to have a great hold on their own as evidenced by the many positive misspelled comments on KJA’s myspace page.
5. Being interesting.
Something that might have been interesting quickly loses its appeal when it is repeated so many times or makes no sense in the context of what FH wrote.
6. Choose the right "voice" for the story
I think here they may have tried to copy FH’s style with the chapter quotes, but the machine chapters really make no sense as they are really no longer machines but caricatures of what a kid might think a conscious robot might be like.
7. Being true to your artistic "voice", go with the gut, not test groups.
Looks like they’ve nailed this one. There is no hint that they’ve changed one thing based on what FH fans have to say. Fight the power guys!
8. Knowing how to spell
This one is silly and irrelevant.
9. Love what you write.
I have no doubt$ that anyone who write$ for $o many franchi$e$ ha$ found a love for what he i$ doing.
10. Study your subject!
Fail. Despite the mention of an extensive concordance, the evidence of a thorough understanding of FH’s work is well documented throughout these boards and others.
11. Having a good vocabulary and grasp of words.
I personally don’t feel that this one is that big of a deal and can usually be addressed within the editing process.
12. Respect your audience.
See #4. They have a new audience now, but respect for the original audience of Dune is sorely lacking.
13. Respect your subject matter.
Same as #10. Being a fan of something does not make you an expert on it. FH’s work deserves the kind of care that can’t be cranked out with a book a year. The themes are too important to gloss over for the sake of more shoot ‘em ups. This one makes me the saddest in the entire list.
14. If writing science fiction, assume your audience is scientifically literate.
Considering the personification of the robots and the continuing discussion of FTL drives as well as sandworm genetics, I think we’ve got our answer to this one as well.
That's all I feel like writing for now. Have fun.
I've tallied the results and I find that it is mathematically impossible for new Dune to be considered good; or by any other metric for that matter. It may be that some members here will think that the books are good because they're best-sellers but I don't think that's a valid argument as good Dune novels would probably have sold a lot more and had a better reception to Dune fans.
Dune Nerd wrote:I think this is a fair analysis. All sides were considered in the listing and it will be interesting to see what the response is from those who vehemently defend the non-FH stories.
And that's when the tumbleweeds started tumbling.Omphalos wrote:Ive got one more, Nekhrun, since you seem to be talking about SF here specifically, and that is "understand the idiom that the genre uses to convey stories." By that I mean that genre literature of all types, SF included, has always used prior works to build up a library of knowledge in reader's minds that later writers capitolize on. Its not some sort of code that is indecipherable to non-genre readers, but I think that this may be part of the reason why it takes time for people to start loving SF. Consider: When an experienced reader picks up a book, for example, about a meteor hitting the earth, or first contact with aliens through radio telescopes, or an alien invasion, they automatically refer back to prior works to inform what they are reading currently, and authors know this and rely on it. For example, imagine how different books such as Moving Mars, by Greg Bear, Rite of Passage, by Alexi Panshin, and Footfall, by Niven and Pournelle would have been if War of the Worlds, A Princess of Mars and Heinlein's juveniles had not been published earlier. Those authors would have had to invent new ways to communicate their stories because they would not have had the benefit of the themes, tropes and motifs that the earlier authors I mentioned above had developed.
As a codicil I would add that if you are going to jump backwards and write in the idiom of a prior time, like Allen Steele and Gary K. Wolfe are doing recently, make it clear either in the jacket blurbs or the artwork selected that is what you are up to, otherwise it becomes way too confusing.