24 Comments
Mar 2Liked by Lincoln Michel

There are so many great names in Dune. "Atreides" and "Harkonnen" are perfect (although I disagree with the Villeneuve pronunciation of the latter). "Shai-Hulud" is so musical and awe-inspiring. Even the technical terminology, like "stillsuit" and "thumper" or even the menacingly vague "Guild Navigator."

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Yeah there's a lot of great ideas and the worldbuilding is excellent in Dune.

I find Frank Herbert's actual prose a total slog, though.

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Mar 2Liked by Lincoln Michel

I absolutely love the names in dune and I love that everything has more than one name, it gives so much richness to the cultures and the history

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Mar 3Liked by Lincoln Michel

And with "Paul Atreides", it's not just that the name is Biblical/mythological, it's that it's specifically so. Paul the Apostle gets his mind blown on the way to Damascus; Paul Atreides gets his mind blown by the Water of Life. The story of the house of Atreus ends with Orestes, who must avenge his father (like Paul) and accept that his sacred duty requires him to commit an atrocity (like Leto with the Golden Path).

If anything, the name isn't blah, it's overdetermined. Would expect a little more subtlety from the Missionaria Protectiva.

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Mar 2Liked by Lincoln Michel

I think the use of biblical names also evokes the backwards looking and heavily stagnant nature of the empire at that point. Part of what the 1984 movie got right with the aesthetics is just how bogged down everyone is in their own cultural history and past.

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Mar 3Liked by Lincoln Michel

Re: names of things in science fiction. There’s a really great Ursula Le Guin short story (in the anthology “The Birthday of the World”) in which, when a group of people from a generation ship (who haven’t set foot on a planet for six generations ) arrive on a new planet, they call the wildlife by Earth names, but ones that don’t match the original wildlife, because they have never seen the original wildlife except in videos. So they end up naming a particular type of insect “dogs”.

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Mar 2Liked by Lincoln Michel

I think it’s great that fictional heroes get names like “Duncan Idaho,” “Johnny Utah,” and “Joe Montana.” The fact that neither people like them nor their names could exist in the real world is part of what makes them larger than life.

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And the great thing about naming them after US states is that their names presumably evoke the qualities of those states for people who are familiar with them.

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Mar 2Liked by Lincoln Michel

I’ve never really been sure why ‘Duncan Idaho’ is supposed to be funny? People are named after places all the time, is there some connotation to Idaho I’m missing as a foreigner? (Presumably the point is that a place which seems boring & mundane to us would be exotic in the distant future.)

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I'm from Idaho and it's...let's say, remote. For me the name Duncan Idaho evokes a redneck cowboy.

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Mar 5Liked by Lincoln Michel

This is a breath of fresh air - a wonderfully engaging and thought-provoking essay. I'm relatively new to Substack and I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of words available. This is one of the few articles I've read recently from start to finish. It reminds me I need to focus in on quality over quantity (in the posts I write as well as the ones I read!) Thank you, Lincoln. I'm going to go and check our your book!

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author

Hope you enjoy!

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I got my copy yesterday and I'm REALLY enjoying, thank you. It's been too long since I've been immersed in a great sci-fi story. Having read your theory about worldbuilding, I now see how you've gone about it in practice. That melding of the old and familiar, and the new and wondrous, keeping us grounded while also flying free at the same time. It's quite a trick. I'm already looking forward to your next book!

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Mar 4Liked by Lincoln Michel

Lincoln, this truly cracks me up: “And of course ignore all this advice if it doesn’t make sense for your specific work.”

Actually everything makes total sense. I only wish I saw your post here before thinkjng and writing nonsensically this weekend about why is it that Giedi Prime is black and white (and why also does the Star Wars planet system consist of mostly mono-chromatic, mono-climate planets--beyond the obvious cinematography reasons of course).

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Mar 4Liked by Lincoln Michel

This was really cool, thank you!

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“Use the force Luke”

Luke: like a shove or a hipbump?

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Great points. I've always loved Dune, even the David Lynch version. I really don't understand the haters.

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Excellent post! I confess I am a long time “Duneaholic” and was especially enchanted by the mysticism woven into the themes of the Fremen, Bene Gesserit, and that young Paul was already undergoing Mentat training unbeknownst to him until he was on Arrakis and getting acquainted with Fremen culture (and learning of prophecies that foretold his arrival) and finally partaking of the “water of life” which pushed him over the threshold into his destiny as Muad Diib (sp?)- prophet and savior of Arrakis (“He who has power to destroy a thing, controls it”) As an ex psychedelic space cadet I was smitten by the insight that Herbert brought to the story, convinced that like Huxley, he had ventured into the “Doors of Perception”. I was rather dismayed and bewildered by the David Lynch version, both production, set design and casting- the evil Baron Harkonnen was barely fat for example ( although casting Sting as his twisted son Feyd was rather brilliant). IIRC, Rafaela DeLaurentis was making her debut as executive producer which undoubtedly was a factor. I eagerly look forward to Vol 2 - the plot certainly thickens. Another book that paints a vivid picture of a dystopian future with decayed and warped culture, religion and language is Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker, which recalls fables of “Boats in the air, sailing the Sarvering gallack seas”, the Ardship of Cambry, (the tale is set in the isle of “inland” with wonderful invented words and devolved terms of slang. Young Riddley embarks on an epic journey of discovery and revelation, leaving the reader wishing for a sequel. I’ve yet to read any of his other books (my bad) so maybe there’s something that revisits that compelling world. I certainly plan to acquire and read your sci-fi book, and am pretty sure I’ll enjoy it greatly. Carry on, sir!

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I finally got around to watching Dune (Part 1), and I actually prefer David Lynch's 1984 version. I mean, I think Villeneuve did a good job with his first film, and I want to see Part Two, but Lynch's film will always hold a special place in my heart.

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If I may be a little pedantic: the only Christians who celebrate "Easter" are those of northern Europe -- England and Scandinavia, essentially. Most everyone else calls it some version of Pascha, from the Passover, which supports your point without confusing the Anglo-Nordic celebration of the Resurrection with its celebration across time and across the world.

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I like this! I admit "Jessica" has always rubbed me the wrong way because it feels less timeless to me than Paul, but I guess I'm factually wrong about that. (I did notice that I don't think anyone says Jessica's first name once in Part 2?)

Also this is so beside the point but I live in France and I still can't get over the fact that the French do in fact say "envoyer un SMS", there is no colloquial equivalent to "text" or even "message" as a verb.

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