Okay, yesterday, the conversation I mentioned in the previous post, between myself and KJA (and several of his fans) began. And here’s where it ended just now. All in all, the folks there aren’t bad, their opinions notwithstanding, so I intend to stick around on it and see if I convert anyone! In any case, I more or less got the answers I was looking for. I say more or less because I got some admissions, but they seemed more or less couched in denials and ambiguities. Here’s what I mean…

Kevin’s final response, in reference to my saying that the Butlerian Jihad angle didn’t fit with Dune 7’s ending:

“Matt, Erasmus and Omnius were *our* creations–we have always been clear on that. But before his death Frank Herbert was planning on writing the story of the Butlerian Jihad with Brian, which probably influenced his thinking on tying together the grand finale of Dune 7 with earlier events in the Jihad. Again, you have every right to think it sounds contrived if it doesn’t appeal to you…I thought Isaac Asimov’s later work was a little contrived when he began tying everything together, and I never believed George Lucas meant for Luke and Leia to be brother and sister…But the books are written and published — 18 of them now over the course of more than 60 years, and you need to look at the totality of the story. I wish Frank Herbert had lived long enough to write Dune 7 himself.”

I replied with the following:

“All right then. Thank you Kevin for your honesty and forthcoming-ness (if that’s a word). Rest assured, I do look at the stories as a totality, and they remain the very thing that inspired me to write. I remember reading how Frank inspired you when you were younger and I feel that we have that very thing in common. Hell, he’s the guy who literally wrote the book that made people take sci-fi seriously! And that’s what got me off my ass and made me feel that ideas I had were worthy of putting down. I only hope the reading public feels the same way some day and I have some measure of what you’ve accomplished over the years.”

Hmm, that’s some pretty good bullshit, huh? Well, its largely true, I DO hope to have the same kind of following for my own writing someday. If nothing else, KJA is financially successful and does have fans. I want that, dammit! And of course, KJA does claim Frank as a major inspiration. Personal opinions aside, I thought I’d acknowledge that debt.

He then signed off with this statement:

“Matt, thanks for the civil tone, and if you see some anger in the other posts here, bear in mind that many of the others on Jacurutu have been quite vicious to *anyone* who dares to say they enjoy the new books.”

All I could think to say in reply was:

“Seems to be a controversial topic. Frank would be… intrigued I guess!”

Frankly, that seemed kinder than saying that his work has had a polarizing effect on people. Kind of sounds blamey, even if it is true. And from his point of view, I’m sure its true. There’s plenty of viciousness coming from his side of the aisle too, and I got a fare dose just coming on this forum! But I got a no trolling policy in place and I intend to stand by it.

Overall, what stood out for me in all this was the admissions that were made. Erasmus and Omnius were their inventions, Frank was planning on writing about it, and they established connections throughout their works. This partially explained what I was looking for, but he avoided saying the one thing that would have cinched it for me. He never confirmed nor denied that Frank had left notes that firmly connected the Butlerian Jihad to Dune 7, aka. that he intended to end it with killer robots. But he did seem to be implying that the ending he wrote was the one that Frank intended. So once again, the connection remains tenuous, you either believe it or you don’t.

However, his peeps had their contributions to make as well. The following comes from two such people who sought to show how my proof could be interpreted to support Brian and KJA’s writing who once again said the things that fans of the new books are known to say:

Here’s the first, and arguably, most eloquent:

“Matt, as I’m still a “novice” by not having read EVERYTHING so far published in Dune (although I DO own everything except the biography of Frank that Brian did), I recognize that I’m not really one most would look to for comments on things unread. That being said, I’m just looking at the quotes you mention from Chapterhouse and it seems to me that Frank could easily have been setting up a changeroo on the readers. Examples of previous changeroos are when he changed Paul from Dune to Dune Messiah. Also, he apparently does have this way of doing things “suddenly” as I’ve heard how you go from one page to another to find a planet (Dune itself if I recall correctly not having read that book) has exploded or was destroyed somehow), so him doing something drastically different about characters, and suddenly, from one novel to the next isn’t so out of touch with how he did things. So allow me to break it down based on my understanding of things regarding the end of Chapterhouse and the beginning of Hunters, not having read either one. You quote both: “That thought aroused Idaho’s suspicions because now he recognized the familiarity. They looked somewhat like Face Dancers, even to the pug noses … And if they were Face Dancers, they were not Scytale’s Face Dancers. Those two people behind the shimmering net belonged to no one but themselves.”

and

“[Tleilaxu Masters] have such a hard time accepting that Face Dancers can be independent of them.” “I don’t see why. It’s a natural consequence. They gave us the power to absorb the memories and experiences of other people. Gather enough of those and…” “It’s personas we take, Marty.” “Whatever. The Masters should’ve known we would gather enough of them one day to make our own decisions about our own future.”

As I haven’t read the book, I’ll rely on the verification of others that these are both accurate quotes from Chapterhouse.

Now I will show you how it’s quite possible Frank had intended for them not to be Face Dancers the whole time (regardless of whether he would have ever imagined Omnius and Erasmus up), and I will do it based solely on the quotes you have given.

“Idaho’s suspicions” indicates suspicions from Idaho, not certainty. He is not at all certain that they are Face Dancers although “he recognized the familiarity”.

“if they were Face Dancers” continues to show the uncertainty of this. Idaho is clearly not certain that they are Face Dancers, but “if they were Face Dancers, they were not Scytale’s Face Dancers.”

“Those two people….belonged to no one but themselves” indicates that there wasn’t any allegiance for these two, plus could easily be a foreshadowing to them not even being Face Dancers of any kind.

The second full quote sounds almost like a couple of “superior” people discussing how other “lesser” races look at each other.

“They gave us the power” could indicate the power humans gave machines to begin with and Tleilaxu being humans then that sentence following the comment about Tleilaxu could fit and be a sneaky way that Frank worded things.

“It’s personas we take” could indicate more than what I presume is the usual motif of a Face Dancer. Frank could be indicating that for these two, the “personas” they took were the personas of Face Dancers. Again, not exactly something that is immediately evident from how Frank was telling the story I’ll wager having not read that story yet, but he’s proven his sneakiness in other ways, so this could have all just been his way of foreshadowing things.

As far as Frank not coming up with computers taking over and men having to fight computers, I’ll refer to something Brian Conway told me on the phone one time, and I think Greg Arnold may have mentioned the very novel earlier, and that reference is Frank Herbert has shown in his other writings that machines can be a threat, and it’s always possible that some of his other novels about this could have been “tied together” later as being set before the events of Dune. Imagine if he actually had lived long enough to write a prequel about The Butlerian Jihad, he just may have tied the two series together with that prequel. Again, Brian Conway would be better at explaining that than I am and I hope he has time to join the conversation and add his theory about this for even greater clarification.

As far as you quoting passages Frank wrote about The Butlerian Jihad to disprove the trilogy which Brian and Kevin wrote, I’m not sure your reasoning stands.

You talk about a time period of 93 years which Frank called a “crusade” as nothing more than a rebellion. As if all rebellions never have life or death consequences. And this is one that went on for quite some time, so it’s only natural that things during that time would even escalate at various points along the way.

Even if Frank never meant for “Erasmus” and “Omnius” as specific characters from the beginning of Dune (or even at the end of his own life), when I read Dune for the first time a couple of years back (before then going back and reading The Butlerian Jihad) I got the distinct impression from Frank’s comments about that time that it was more than just humans turning off and then destroying a bunch of robotic butlers that had gone awry. The fact that he used a very war-like word such as “Jihad”, which historically has had religious and war associated with it, told me that there was definitely a story to be told, and I was glad that I had a novel handy to read after I read Dune in order to see how it all unfolded. Of course, that turned out to be a three novel ordeal, but I enjoyed every page of it. ; )

Personally, I’m enjoying both Frank’s original novels as well as what Brian and Kevin have done. I’m looking forward to when I’ve read everything to reading it all over again and breaking things down to have even further understanding as I’ve seen a lot of other fans do. It should be a lot of fun to do that. I know I’m looking forward to the new novel in January, and maybe that will help “connect” things a little better too, between the Butlerian Jihad trilogy and the House trilogy.”

And another:

“Ahhh – I see that House of William aka Matt Williams from Jacurutu is here – Welcome! Your 1st quote ” the crusade against computers, thinking machines, and conscious robots ” does lend it’s self well to the legends series, as do others from the original books. You have to consider that in KJA and BH’s books the Machines have already wrested power away from the Humans that sought to use them as tools to dominate the rest of Humanity, through their own carelessness.

Keep in mind that on other works by FH he used Artificial Consciousness as a creation of humanity that assumes control of humanity (Ship from the Destination:Void series). There is no telling what FH may have done had he lived long enough to finish it himself.”

Sound familiar? Well, they did to me. Every one smacks of the same “let’s stretch the evidence to fit the theory” kind of thing. What surprises me is that Kevin wasn’t making these claims. This could be out of a desire not to explain himself, or because he’s constrained by what he can and cannot admit. If you’re claiming to be working by Frank’s own notes, but also taking great liberties with the material, you gotta keep tight lipped about it!

And I got to admit, not sure how I feel about talking to these people the way I did. Not sure if it was cowardly, brave, disingenuous or honest. All I can say is I wanted to strike a civil tone while still telling what I thought. Hard to do that when you think someone’s work sucks! Either way, I found his overall answers to be only partially revealing, and it kind of confirmed what I suspected. I’m unplacated, but then again, I never expected this to be revelatory. Oh well, fun while it lasted!

2 thoughts on “KJA and my conversation… continued

  1. When you say “However, his peeps weren’t done with me” it comes across as if the next two comments you quote occur after your very last statement of “Seems to be a controversial topic. Frank would be… intrigued I guess!” As those comments by myself and the other person weren’t after your last statement, it would be a good idea to make sure that people reading your blog are aware that this was part of the overall conversation. Otherwise, you have two very good blog posts here of what occurred and I appreciate where you are coming from, even if we still disagree over the novels. 🙂

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