Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Butlerian Jihad

The Butlerian Jihad (Legends of Dune, Book 1)

Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Date: 02 September, 2003   —   $7.19   —   Book

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Fiction, Science Fiction

Now we delve into the distant history of the Dune series. Thousands of years before the events in Dune, the battle is on to rid humanity of the rule of thinking machines. Of course, the battle isn't always on; a stalemate of sorts has developed between the Synchronized Worlds ruled by the computer Omnius and the League of Nobles planets; the latter are tired of war and feel that accomodations can be reached. Serena Butler does not believe that humanity can co-exist with the machines, and her abduction at their hands only proves her point.

While she is learning about the levels of perfidy that her robot masters can create, we are learning things about the League Worlds that show that Herbert and Anderson are not going to let us choose good guys quite so easily. Slavery is well established on League Worlds, with all its attendant ills; its primary victims are the Zensunni and Zenshiite pacifists, who then attempt to cripple the war efforts. (Their religion does, indeed, feature a Buddhallah, and is contrasted with a Novachristianity.) Of course, this then causes the soldiers to curse the 'sub-humans' who don't want to win their freedom from the machines. They never question the fact that these people are already enslaved and perhaps cannot see beyond that.

We meet many new characters in these novels, including some who have been hinted at in the Frank Herbert Dune novels. Norma Cenva is a reclusive genius who is easily exploited by Tio Holtzmann, creator of the shields which feature so prominently; Aurelius Venport is her mother's lover, and the one who will eventually see her true potential. Vorian Atreides is the son of one of the cymek rulers; his interactions with Serena Butler set the stage for the explosive jihad that takes place in her name.

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