5 min read

Expanse-ive Dune Theater Seat Endings (of the Wind)

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Welcome to the May 2024 edition of...
What I'm Into, What I'm Up To

What I'm Into

  • Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind ...again

    I'm still journeying my way through this Miyazaki masterpiece.

    It's seven volumes long, and each one is the size of a typical graphic novel, so it's a giant work. I'm on Volume 4.

    Every page and panel is so beautifully drawn, I can't get over it.

    Also, I mentioned two newsletters ago the movie version has been called anime's answer to Dune, but I just read somewhere that Miyazaki was actually inspired by Dune so much so that Nausicaä would not exist if not for Dune.

    So that's cool.

  • The Expanse, Season 6

    With Wendy living the hotel-life in Baltimore, I thought I would have lots of time to catch up on all the shows and movies she's not interested in.

    But it turns out we spend so much time talking on the phone now I somehow watch even less of 'my shows' than usual (which I don't mind at all, honestly, and I'm not just saying that because Wendy might read this later).

    One series I've always meant to finish but never quite gotten around to is The Expanse.

    I saw every season except the last one. And to be honest, I wouldn't have gotten that far if not for watching with a friend because, as I remember it, the start of every season felt like a bit of a slog, then picked up a few episodes in, really hitting high gear the last few episodes.

    I'm sure some of you will have read the book series the show is based on by the pseudonymous James S. A. Corey, which is actually two people—Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck—who wrote the books together.

    The two friends decided a sci-fi book by a single author would be more successful than a collaboration, so they came up with a pen name and published as James S. A. Corey.

    Though I've only read the beginning of book one in the series, Leviathan Wakes (further cementing my reputation as a speculative fiction author who can't actually read speculative fiction), I did listen to an interview with the two authors a while back. Not only did they sound like fun, cool people, but I was jealous of their friendship because the process of writing together sounded so much better than writing solo.

    Anyway, I've just started Season 6 and I have it on good authority it's well worth watching, so I'm settling in for a good time.

  • Dune: Part Two

    But first, a mini-rant about theaters...

    You know how there are still some movie theaters around that, as soon as you sit down, you kind of wish you had just stayed home and watched something on TV instead?

    I took the kids up to Baltimore to see Wendy and get a look at our future house and explore our new city (fortunately flights on Frontier between Orlando and Baltimore are super cheap if you don't need to take more than a backpack with you).

    While we were up there, I went out one night to see Dune: Part Two all by myself at a theater which turned out to be one of the least comfortable Regal theaters still in operation. It reminded me of the Waterford Lakes Regal theater in Orlando which I avoid like the plague even though it's close to my in-laws.

    In the year of our Lord, 2024, why in the world would I pay the same crazy-high ticket price to see a movie in stiff, old, fold-down theater seats which were barely adequate 30 years ago, when I could, for the same cost, go see the same movie on a bigger screen with better sound in giant, leather, fully reclining, super comfortable seats at a brand new or newly updated theater?

    Same price!

    If the tickets were half the cost, okay, maybe it's worth the lack of comfort. But SAME PRICE??? Show me how these theaters still make any kind of profit.

    Anyway.... For all of us who were waiting for a movie or series to do one of the best sci-fi books of all time true justice, I feel like the waiting paid off. At least for me. So good. Your mileage may vary, of course.

    The thing I noticed most about both movies, which I probably mentioned when I talked about seeing the first movie, was the sound.

    The soundscape of the film was almost overwhelming. Like it was its own character in the story—a constant, vibrating, pulsing, beating, grinding entity.

    It reminded me of the Dunkirk sountrack (surprise, surprise, also scored by Hans Zimmer), which felt more intense because of an interesting always-rising, anxiety-producing effect called Shepard tone.

    My personal opinion is that each book in the Dune series is a little less good than the book that came before it, but I think Dune: Messiah and Children Of Dune would work well in film (which is not a very original take, since it was clearly demonstrated by the award-winning 2003 Syfy series, Frank Herbert's Children Of Dune).

    According to Wikipedia a prequel series called Dune: Prophecy is in the works, as well as a third movie based on Dune: Messiah.

    It's interesting Dune has never before captured the popular imagination in the way these movies seem to be doing.

    Per Wikipedia's post on the Dune franchise...
    'Jon Michaud noted in 2013 in The New Yorker, "what's curious about Dune's stature is that it has not penetrated popular culture in the way that The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars have." He praised Herbert's "clever authorial decision" to excise robots and computers ("two staples of the genre") from his fictional universe, but suggested that this may be one explanation why Dune lacks "true fandom among science-fiction fans".'

    I would think it has more to do with the complexity of the Dune universe and its politics, the muddling of the traditional good versus evil narrative, and the non-ending-ness of the series. Also, the lack of a really great cinematic interpretation until now.

    Why do you think Dune has not become part of the mainstream modern mythos in the way Lord Of The Rings and Star Wars have?

What I'm Up To

I'm trying to bring the Skytrails trilogy of novellas to a satisfying conclusion.

I've talked before in the pages of this newsletter about how hard a time I have ending stories well. I am very jealous of people who go into a book or story with an ending in mind, especially if they know in their bones it will be a really satisfying ending. That is what I aspire to.

Watching Dune: Part Two reminded me how important a good ending is.

Everything comes together and we as the audience are like, 'Yes! The protagonist came through. There was victory and there was cost. Story arcs were wrapped up nicely. Character arcs resolved in satisfying ways. The ending was well paced and believable and we felt all the feelings we wanted to feel and needed to feel, and now we are mentally and emotionally exhausted in all the best ways.'

Those are the sentiments I want to leave readers with, but I am an intermediate storyteller at best, and my skills and understanding and pre-prior-planning are not yet at the level I need them to be to pull off the perfect story ending.

So, I continue to do the best I can with what I've got and hope it resonates with most of the 16 people who read it.

Do you have a favorite ending from a book, movie, or show you can share with me?

Maybe a tiny summary and why you thought it was so good?

I think I need to build a library of good endings to build up my 'storytelling wisdom.'

That's all for this month. I had more but it was way too much, so I'll save it for next month.

Thanks for reading! And see you next time...