Winners: Winds of Dune Swag

Congratulations to Angela, Ole, Amanda, Jake, and Shalyana.

This contest garnered some interesting link love. Suvudu pointed out those of us throwing these contests and Hairy Ticks of Dune linked to the same list of bloggers saying:

With too many bloggers showing their complete lack of literary taste or integrity and shilling on this piece of shit, with some even engaging in giveaways of the “swagsacks” and other crap…

I got about equal traffic from both of those sources. I don’t appreciate the tone of the Hairy Ticks post, but I feel it’s worth responding to.

Thoughts on the Dune books

  • The name of this blog is a Dune reference. A mentat in the Dune universe is a person that fills many of the roles for which we would use general purpose computers. The complexities surrounding this concept are one of my favorite concepts in both the Dune universe and all of science fiction.
  • Dune is one of the best science fiction books ever written. It’s complex. It’s epic. It deals with big issues. It has cool and unique technology and ideas. It’s a cornerstone of the speculative fiction cannon and I feel everyone should read it. When I recommend anything from the Dune series to someone who hasn’t encountered it before, this is what I recommend. You won’t find a review of it on this blog, because I haven’t read it since I started the blog.
  • I enjoyed the other books that Frank Herbert wrote in the Dune series, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune,Chapterhouse: Dune. I’ve read them all multiple times, with the exception of Chapterhouse, which I’ve never managed to finish. They’re great science fiction and expand the universe well.
  • I’ve collected from used bookstores over the years a good collection of non dune books written by Frank Herbert, but I’ve never gotten around to reading them (Under Pressure is the one I can see from my desk). Likewise I’ve picked up a few non-Dune books by Brian Herbert, largely because I wanted to experience his general science fiction writing before I read any of his Dune books. I’ve not gotten a chance to read them.
  • Also from used bookstores I picked up House Atreides and House Harkonnen neither of which I’ve gotten around to reading yet.
  • However much Brian or Kevin or the publisher refer to the books published since the 90’s as cannon, my assumption until reading them is that they’re effectively Media Tie In novels or Expanded Universe or whatever such term you prefer. I have a special place in my heart for media tie in novels, but they serve a distinctly different purpose than an original novel. I expect fluff and mindless fun. Sometimes they rise above this, but I don’t really need them to to enjoy spending time with characters I’d otherwise never experience again.

Kevin J Anderson

There’s a whole category of science fiction fan that specifically despises KJA. I’ve never been big on hate in general. He’s neither the best nor the worst writer in or out of the media-tie-in space. He does seem to have a freakish ability to consistently churn out 1/2 dozen books a year. I enjoyed his interview on AISFP. He comes across like a SF fan that’s found himself in a dream job. Eventually I’m sure I’ll have my own opinion of his writing one way or another, but for the time being I basically ignore the argument: “If it’s written by KJA, it’s crap.”

Harry Potter

I love speculative fiction and the more people reading it the more market there will be for it. The best sellers help keep the publishing houses in business and the publishing houses buy some of my favorite books in addition to the best sellers. From my point of view, this is the role for the KJA Dune books: pull all the warm bodies to the SFF section of the bookstore so that there continues to be an SFF section of the bookstore.


There are enough fans of Dune that there will be no end of opinions on ANYTHING related to it. If you enjoy the more recent Dune books, read them. If you don’t like them don’t read them. But don’t hate. Hate never does anyone any good.

~ by mentatjack on August 15, 2009.

4 Responses to “Winners: Winds of Dune Swag”

  1. Great post. KJA is wonderful guy. I first started reading his work when I was 12 years old, and I’ve read over a dozen of his books since. He’s a solid writer who always tells a good tale. Reading KJA is like sitting around the campfire and hearing your Uncle perform adventure stories. Now, many years after first reading him, I’ve had the opportunity to break bread with him, drink beer with him, talk BSG vs. Dr. Who, and to talk about writing and publishing. When it comes to great guys in SF, it’s hard to find a better one than KJA.

    As for the haters, few writers have had the success Kevin has, and there will always be people who love to tear down the guy on top.

  2. And keep up the contests!!

  3. So in other words, when you posted this, you hadn’t even read any of the McDune books?

    What Mentat can make accurate projections based on such incomplete data?


  4. Based on my limited information I “projected”

    I expect fluff and mindless fun. Sometimes they rise above this, but I don’t really need them to to enjoy spending time with characters I’d otherwise never experience again.

    I don’t think that’s much of a stretch.

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