Dune/Star Wars Parallels

Justine Shaw, Star Wars and Dune comparison

Probably obvious to those who have read the book and seen the movies, but interesting in light of the Skywalker Paradigm, which holds, for example, that Jabba is nobility and not a gangster (he’s referred to as “Lord,” Luke must approach him diplomatically) and that the Jedi do not have supernatural powers, but are just master manipulators and hypnotists (sort of like male Bene Gesserit).

The page includes details on many of the influences on Dune as well, such as General Semantics.

Star Wars Origins: Dune

See also:

Sacrifice and Submission: Game of Thrones and the Aesthetics of Fascism

Jodorowsky’s Dune

When Did Magic Become Hereditary?

The Twelfth Enchantment author David Liss on the portrayal of magic in popular story telling:

In the past, people generally believed they could acquire magic in two ways: through learning the craft, either from another practitioner or from books; or through obtaining magic from a powerful being-think Faust or the classic, demonized witch, both of whom get their mojo from Satan. Anyone could learn magic as long as he or she had access to the knowledge or could make a connection with the right supernatural entity. The important point is that in theory, the gates of magic were open to everyone, and what I find most interesting is how that has changed in popular culture. […]

Magic has gone from being an open system to a closed one. Their massive popularity make the Harry Potter novels and films the most glaring example, but it’s everywhere, and has been for decades now: TV shows like Charmed and Wizards of Waverly Place, books like those of Laurell K. Hamilton and Charlaine Harris. More often than not, magical practitioners are born, not made. Magic is an exclusive club. You can watch and be envious, but you can’t join.

i09: When did magic become elitist?

Also, Alyssa Rosenberg writes: “I wonder if a sense of biological magic also correlates to a sense of unease about how much power we have to impact our lives and to change the world. Believing that you can put the evil eye on someone, or that you can summon the devil, means believing in your own capacity to learn, hold, and wield power. Biological conceptions of magic are a way of explaining your own powerlessness. We can’t change our lives — but we’re also not responsible for changing the world — because we’re not Harry Potter, or the Slayer, or the Halliwell sisters.”

(both links via David Forbes)

Not unrelated are Michael Moorcock’s essay on the fascist, conservative and/or reactionary strains running through sci-fi and fantasy fiction, and this essay by Stokes on the aesthetics of fascism and the TV series Game of Thrones.

Alan Moore Mentor Steve Moore Releases New Novel Somnium


Steve Moore, a mentor to Alan Moore (no relation), is publishing his novel Somnium through Strange Attractor. It’s available for pre-order from the publisher. S. Moore was the subject of A. Moore’s audiobook Unearthing, which discussed the circumstances of the writing of Somnium. It’s received praise from Michael Moorcock and Iain Sinclair.

From Strange Attractor:

Written in the early years of the 21st century, when the author was engaged in dream-explorations and mystical practices centred on the Greek moon-goddess Selene, Somnium is an intensely personal and highly-embroidered fictional tapestry that weaves together numerous historical and stylistic variations on the enduring myth of Selene and Endymion. Ranging through the 16th to 21st centuries, it combines mediæval, Elizabethan, Gothic and Decadent elements in a fantastic romance of rare imagination.

With its delirious and heartbroken text spiralling out from the classical myth of Endymion and the Greek lunar goddess Selene, Somnium is an extraordinary odyssey through love and loss and lunacy, illuminated by the silvery moonlight of its exquisite language.

With an afterword by Alan Moore, whose biographical piece Unearthing details the life of his friend and mentor Steve Moore, and includes the circumstances surrounding the writing of Somnium.

Sacrifice and Submission: Game of Thrones and the Aesthetics of Fascism

Triumph of the Will
Triumph of the Will, 1934

star wars
Star Wars, 1977

This essay supposedly has spoilers up through the most recent Game of Thrones book, but the first page or so of the essay sets the ground work for fascist aesthetics and is quite interesting. I’ve only read the prelude to the first novel, and haven’t seen any of the show, but I don’t think anything was spoiled in the first few paragraphs.

The essay opens with a nice long quote from Susan Sontag:

It is generally thought that National Socialism stands only for brutishness and terror. But this is not true. National Socialism—more broadly, fascism—also stands for an ideal or rather ideals that are persistent today under the other banners: the ideal of life as art, the cult of beauty, the fetishism of courage, the dissolution of alienation in ecstatic feelings of community; the repudiation of the intellect; the family of man (under the parenthood of leaders). These ideals are vivid and moving to many people, and it is dishonest as well as tautological to say that one is affected by Triumph of the Will and Olympia only because they were made by a filmmaker of genius. Riefenstahl’s films are still effective because, among other reasons, their longings are still felt, because their content is a romantic ideal to which many continue to be attached…

And unlike Michael Moorcock’s famous rant about fascism and fantasy, the author of this essay writes:

Let’s just get this out of the way. I am not calling George R. R. Martin, or any of the other authors discussed in this post, a Nazi. Nor am I calling them Blackshirts, nor connecting them with any other historical group of totalitarian assholes. The aesthetic principles I’m discussing here are neither the result of fascism nor indicative of fascism, they just take advantage of the same emotional circuitry that fascism takes advantage of. These are not politicized aesthetics, rather, fascism is aestheticized politics. It’s not quite accurate to claim that aesthetic similarities don’t imply any ideological similarities at all, but that’s a lot closer to the truth than the other way around.

Over Thinking It: Game of Thrones and the Aesthetics of Fascism

(via Wes)

See also: Staging the Nation’s Rebirth: the Politics and Aesthetics of Performance in the Context of Fascist Studies

Many Former Cyberpunk Authors Now Write Fantasy


Cyberpunk has fallen from its peak in the 1980s and early 1990s, but the great cyberpunk authors are still writing. And many of them have turned to fantasy. Why is this?

What is it about fantasy that appeals to many of the greatest cyberpunk authors? We asked the authors themselves and also cooked up some theories of our own.


Rudy Rucker, author of the Ware tetralogy and Postsingular, among many others, has described his new novel Jim and the Flims as being akin to fantasy. Also, Black Glass author John Shirley published the mystical Bleak History in 2009.

Metrophage author Richard Kadrey has gained a huge following for his Sandman Slim novels — the third one, Aloha from Hell, is coming October 18. Richard K. Morgan, author of the cyberpunk Takeshi Kovacs novels, has written a bloody fantasy, The Steel Remains, with the sequel, The Cold Commands (or The Dark Commands), coming October 11. Meanwhile, some of Synners author Pat Cadigan’s recent stories have seemed much more fantasy-oriented.

What’s going on here?

io9: Why do so many former cyberpunk authors now write dark fantasy?

I’m partial to the “Cyberpunk has come true” explanation.

I hadn’t even realized this was going on, but it makes sense. Fantasy hasn’t held my interest since adolescence (I’m sure there’s good stuff out there, I just haven’t seen enough of it). But I’ve been thinking about the idea of fantasy a lot lately. It sounds like an interesting genre to explore, but starting with Gilgamesh, it’s the oldest genre out there. Seems like it would be hard to get new ideas out of it.

(via Theoretick)

Map of the History of Fantasy and Science Fiction, From Gilgamesh to Battlestar Gallactica

Fantasy and science fiction history

Full sized image

Amazing map of the history of science fiction, from its fantasy origins in Gilgamesh to modern mainstream television with stops along the way for gothic novels, Frankenstein, H.G. Wells, Olaf Stapledon, cyberpunk and so much more.

This comes from the Mapping Science website, but I haven’t been able to find an entry for it there.

(I saw this all over the place, but special thanks to Ian for finally getting me to take a look)

Long, New Interview with Michael Moorcock

Michael Moorcock

In contrast to the rural decencies of Tolkien, Moorcock’s writing belongs to an urban tradition, which celebrates the fantastical city as a place of chance and mystery. The wondrous spaces of M John Harrison, China Miéville, Fritz Leiber, Gene Wolfe and Alan Moore are all part of this, as are Iain Sinclair’s London, Judge Dredd’s Mega-City One, the part-virtual cyberpunk mazes of William Gibson and the decadent Paris of the Baudelarian flâneur. Like these other urban fantasists, Moorcock delights in a kind of sublime palimpsest, in imagining an environment that through size, age, scale or complexity exceeds our comprehension, producing fear and awe. Crucially, the city isn’t a place of moral clarity.

Moorcock’s dislike of authoritarian sentiment has led him in many directions: Jerry Cornelius’s ambiguity is sexual, social and even ontological; one of Moorcock’s most popular heroes, Elric, was written as a rebuke to the bluff, muscular goody-goodies that populate so much fantasy fiction. Elric, a decadent albino weakling, is amoral, perhaps even evil. As a not-so-metaphorical junkie, Elric allowed Moorcock to revel in unwholesomeness, and helped return fantasy to its roots in the late romanticism of the decadents, a literary school close to Moorcock’s heart. In a recent introduction to The Dancers at the End of Time, which is set in a decadent far future, Moorcock claims to have sported Wildean green carnations as a teenager, not to mention “the first pair of Edwardian flared trousers (made by Burton) as well as the first high-button frock coat to be seen in London since 1910”. Elric, much less robust than his creator, who admits his dandyish threads gave him “the bluff domestic air of a Hamburg Zeppelin commander”, is part Maldoror, part Yellow Book poseur and part William Burroughs; within a few years of his first appearance in 1961, British culture suddenly seemed to be producing real-life Elrics by the dozen, as Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and others defined an image of the English rock star as an effeminate, velvet-clad lotus-eater. Moorcock was very popular among musicians, and it’s tempting to see him as co-creator of the butterfly-on-a-wheel character, which still wanders the halls of English culture in guises ranging from Sebastian Horsley to Russell Brand. I ask him whether he felt at the time that the 60s rockers were living out a role he’d imagined. He’s too modest to agree, but tells an anecdote that seems to sum up psychedelic London’s openness to fantasy of all kinds. “I’m in the Mountain grill on the Portobello Road, where everyone used to meet to get on the tour buses. I’m sitting there, and this bloke called Geronimo is trying to sell me some dope. He says ‘have you heard about the tunnel under Ladbroke Grove?’. He starts to elaborate, about how it’s under the Poor Clares nunnery, and you can go into that and come out in an entirely different world. I said to him, ‘Geronimo, I think I wrote that’. It didn’t seem to bother him much.”

The Guardian: When Hari Kunzru met Michael Moorcock

RIP Frank Frazetta

Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer

Frazetta’s agent has confirmed that the artist passed away today.

Comics Beat: Frank Frazetta 1928-2010

Update: Check out this obit from Coilhouse – not safe for work.

Kyle Newman: Fanboys

“With the Star Wars saga officially wrapped up with Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, fans will seek out any remaining sliver of that galaxy far, far away on screen. The Clone Wars animated movie gave them a little bit of light drone lasering action, but what really caught their attention was Kyle Newman’s Fanboys.

Set in 1998, the film tells the story of four friends who learn that one of their number has terminal cancer, and will die before he gets to see the long-awaited Star Wars prequel, Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Thus the gang scheme to break into Skywalker Ranch and steal a rough cut. This celluloid tribute to Star Wars fandom was supposed to hit theaters in August 2007, but distributor The Weinstein Company thought they could turn it into a bigger event. They hired Steven Brill to reshoot scenes with more dirty jokes and nudity, and removed that downer cancer bit. After news of the new version leaked, a grassroots online rebellion was mounted, spearheaded by a group called Stop Darth Weinstein who helped get Newman reinstated to deliver his version of the film, albeit two years later.

The saga wasn’t all bad for Newman. He met his wife, Jaime King, on the film. She plays a Las Vegas escort who plays Jedi mind tricks with one of the boys. The online support from fans who just wanted to see the original version also warmed his heart. However, the morning of his press junket in Beverly Hills, Newman was already visibly exhausted. The day was just beginning, but the journey to bring Fanboys to the screen was nearly over. All he had to do was keep his posture up on the sofa and answer questions about Weinstein as diplomatically as possible.”

(via Suicide Girls. Thanks Nicole!)

Ten Lessons Spider-Man Can Teach Our First Nerd President


“President Barack Obama is a nerd. A geek. A dork.
Last March, he said:
I grew up on Star Trek. I believe in the final frontier.

Obama fulfilled the fanboy fantasy of flashing Leonard Nimoy the Vulcan salute, and on his now defunct official Senate web page, he posted an image of himself posing with the statue of Superman in Metropolis, Illinois. As a kid, he copied pictures of Spider-Man and Batman out of a friend’s comic books and he even uses geek speak while decked out in formalwear. Obama’s such a Spider-Man fandork that Marvel Comics made him a character this month in Amazing Spider-Man # 583. Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada said: “A Spider-Man fan moving into the Oval Office is an event that must be commemorated in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man.”

So, at the dawn of his presidency, SG would like to offer Mr. Obama a few important political lessons that can be learned from the adventures of everyone’s favorite wall-crawler.”

(via Suicide Girls)

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