Reading Notes, 2/8/21

Finished Reading

Dune cover

Dune by Frank Herbert

One book down in my Dune read-through. A reread for me.

David Lynch’s Dune (1984) is not very faithful to the book, at least not after the first few chapters, but the style of it is very hard to shake. The weirdness of the gom jabber scene and creepy, uncanny Alia are a couple of the Lynchian things that are always going to be part of my internal Dune vision. Those images somewhat override themes in the book that are more important, that I forget about until I read again—like the Bene Gesserit seeding religious prophecies throughout the universe, know you, just in case…

I also noticed in this reading how Herbert plays with epic fantasy; not just tropes, but details. We begin in a castle on Caladan. The Reverend Mother is referred to as witch. One of the Atreides’ most trusted advisors/warriors is a bard; there are songs, poetic digressions! These are fantasy things. Chocolate in my peanut butter.

The House on the Borderlands cover

The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson

I’ve come to a realization: it’s not weird fiction that I dislike, or even cosmic horror that leaves me rolling my eyes. It’s H. P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft relies on “It couldn’t be described! It was so horrible everyone who looked upon it went insane!” That leaves me pretty disconnected from his fiction, and I had thought that this was representative of all weird fiction/cosmic horror. I had been reluctant to read Lovecraft’s progenitors, though I felt like I should. I’m glad I’ve stuck with it and put William Hope Hodgson on my Classics Club list. (This is Classics Club book #2 for the year.)

The House on the Borderland isn’t quite what I expected. I had figured on maybe more of ghost story or more metaphorical borders. No, Hodgson goes for dimensional rift/Hellmouth and isn’t afraid to give some details. I will say, Borderland is pretty light on plot. It’s a recitation of strange things happening without cause or solution. It’s mostly just a very weird, not unenjoyable, ride.

Deal Me In

7♥️: “Carbo” by Nick Wolven
From The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nov–Dec 2017

What if you mashed up browser history, predictive text, deep learning AI, and self-driving vehicles? And what if the owner of such a vehicle was a somewhat pervy teenager? Would you end up with a virus-laden car that believed you only wanted to go to the next place where you could see scantily clad women? This story was a little too pessimistic for me and I feel like it floated over any depth that it could have plumbed.

Currently Reading

The Hole cover
The Call of Stories cover

I had intended to start Dune Messiah after The House on the Borderland, but I think I need a little more break. As timing would have it, I put The Hole by Hiroko Oyamada on hold last week and it became available yesterday. Still have Coles’ The Call of Stories as my morning reading.

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