The Godmakers by Frank Herbert

I seem to have a soft spot for science fiction novels with the word “God” in the title. And Frank Herbert’s name has some resonance for me. Although I am not a huge Dune fan, I do admire the novel, and quote weird funny lines from the film every now and again, in conversation. So I gave this a try.

It’s just okay, I guess. There are some Big, Weighty Issues presented, but the way they are tackled is disjointed at times, with some chapters meant to be payoffs turning out to be flops after unwarranted build up. This feels like the sketch of a better book, highly episodic in nature.

Once thing I do like is the disgruntled snarkiness of the protagonist, Lewis Orne, and the combative relationship with his asshole boss, Stetson. Orne acts like a really sulky son-of-a-bitch when he’s first called out and criticized, and to be fair, Stetson really rips into him with ridiculously funny churlishness.

One of the phrases in the book is “Gods are made, not born.” This makes some sense, actually, in the way that religion fashions gods, and in the other way that true “creator of the universe”-type gods ought not to have an origin story. Oh, and in the third way that there are priests literally making gods out of thin air by sitting in a circle and chanting.

The casual sexism is amusing, as a capsule of its time. Our hero encounters not one, but two fiercely female-led societies, one open and the other secret. The first is an authoritarian witch-planet that nearly kills him, and the second is a vast conspiracy of wives bent on manipulating their husbands into positions of power. Cool.

All these episodes culminate in a ordeal, a trial for Orne. It’s sort of a vague cacophony of religious mumbo jumbo that strains to hang all the ideas together, but just treads water attempting to do so.  The final confrontation works pretty well, though, evoking some swelling sense of awe, before the whole thing ends quite perfunctorily.

I did like some of it. 

I give this book a rating of 2.5 Helmets out of 5.

 

 

Blogging in the Time of Pandemic

So here we are in the thick of it, sequestered in our homes as COVID-19 spreads silently but surely through our communities. Terms we might remember from this time are “social distancing” and “flattening the curve” and “community spread”. I would imagine I’m not the only person returning to my half forgotten blog.

Another phrase I’ve heard a lot is that old adage “Perfect is the enemy of good”, which Google informs me is attributed to Voltaire. I might just go ahead and bust out a few blog entries without worrying about perfecting them, since they are mostly for me anyway.

Being home for now weeks on end with my wife and 2 year old son has been a blessing. What a wonderful time of his life to be so present in nearly every moment. It makes me also look forward to the day when he can read some of my favourite science fiction, and inspires me to record some of my thoughts on what I’m reading, and what I’ve recently read, in case that interests him at some point. Maybe he’ll discover some of these books in my library, or floating around in my Kindle cloud.

I use “recently” extremely loosely, as some of the most inspiring and affecting books I’ve read have been in these last 5 years or so. This past year I read The Disposessed, and finished the entire Expanse series. And before that The Starmaker blew my mind, and before that The Three-Body Problem series. These influences ought to figure prominently in my ever-germinating novel idea.

So here we go! Let’s do this thing.

Oh why the picture of Spam? I looked for a picture in my roll that suggested Pandemic, and nothing inspires you to buy and consume canned meat like seeing long lines to get into the grocery store.