Some things could go to pot, but not his health, he thought. Then why don’t you stop pouring alcohol into yourself? he thought. Why don’t you shut the hell up? he thought.

Richard Matheson, I Am Legend

Dune: House Atreides

Julianus reviews Dune: House Atreides by Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson in the Bkwyrm archive.

This is, of course, a prequel to Frank Herbert’s classic saga, written by his son. You really have to feel for Brian here, since he really can’t win as he sets himself to add on to one of the most complex and beloved novels of the century. As far as I’m concerned Frank Herbert himself never really did a proper job on his own sequels, so what hope do we have here?

Set about forty years before the events of Dune, this is basically a collection of interconnected narratives about the characters it that book and how they got where they were. Leto Atreides is a teenager being sent to an allied world for his education, Vladimir Harkonnen is thin (!) but still his familiar decadent self, Shaddam is an impatient Crown Prince, and the Bene Gesserit are just beginning to arrange the conception of Jessica. There is no real plot holding all this together, just threads leading to the start of the original novel.

The real problem here is that despite all the best efforts the whole book just feels wrong. Many of the events seem quite outlandish, the characters are way too familiar with secrets that were/will be hidden from them in Dune, and worst of all they talk wrong. In Frank’s novel we were transported to a milieu that was far removed from our own where people had very different attitudes and manners. Brian and Kevin make them talk like Americans and they even use catch-phrases like “think outside the box!”

If you’re a Dune fanatic you will probably want to read this, but I’d suggest you borrow a copy and save your money for something better.

Find this book at Amazon, Abebooks, or Powell’s

Jezebel

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible’s Harlot Queen by Lesley Hazleton.

Hazleton has been a journalist and a psychologist in Israel, and she puts both sets of experience to good use in Jezebel, an exploration of the historical figure behind the woman who is the supposed villain of the biblical book of Kings. The great Scarlet Woman of the Old Testament proves to be a very effective focus for viewing the cultures and politics of the ancient near east, and the development of Hebrew monotheism.

Although the book is very pleasant and speedy reading, the author musters a great deal of the latest archaeology and comparative ancient literature to provide persuasive reconstructions of the people and places from the biblical account. The Tyrian princess Isha-Baal (i.e. Jezebel) emerges from this book as a figure whose integrity is evident in the Bible despite the efforts of its redactors, and the court dynamics of the vanished city of Jezreel create a paradigm for “culture wars” in subsequent ages.

To all this, Halzleton adds her own experiences of visiting various sites where the story of Kings is supposed to have occurred, a device which helps her to tie reflections about gender, power politics, and religious fanaticism in ancient Israel together with the same topics in modernity. [via]

Dreamtime Is Upon Us

Phil Hine reviews Dreamtime Is Upon Us, The Second Annual Report of the Association of Autonomous Astronauts, in the Bkwyrm archive.

The AAA is a worldwide network dedicated to local, community-based space exploration programs. Dreamtime is Upon Us is the second annual report of what the various AAA groups have been doing in order to further their goals. My initial impression was that of ‘anarcho-situationists in space’ but the AAA is much more than that. Particularly intriguing is Luther Blissett’s contribution “Sex in Space” and the XXX Foundation’s $1 million prize offered to the first privately-funded group to send a craft into sub-orbital space (about 60 miles up) and engage in sexual intercourse! Also of note is the report from Raido AAA who tell us that commercial ‘space tourism’ is being predicted by 2010 and that the Catholic Church is looking forwards to meeting with aliens – in order to convert them to Christianity!

If you’re interested in space, but depressed by the thought that the final frontier has been already sewn up by the military-industrial combine, the AAA offers several alternative directions. Get Dreamtime is Upon Us and get with the program!

Note: this and other annual reports are available on ASAN’s annual reports page.

Feast of the Apparition of the Daughter of Fortitude, Edward Kelly’s May 23, 1587 vision pertaining to Our Lady Babalon.

 

“the Feast of the Apparition of the Daughter of Fortitude, which is the 23rd of May, the anniversary of the vision of Edward Kelly pertaining to Our Lady”—T Polyphilus, Introduction to Feast of Babalon by Soror Meretrix Potestas Babalonis

 

“Here cometh another woman: All her attire is like beaten gold; she hath on her forehead a Cross chrystal, her neck and breast are bare unto under her dugs: She hath a girdle of beaten gold slackly buckled unto her with a pendant of gold down to the ground.”—John Dee’s journal

 

“I am the daughter of Fortitude, and ravished every hour, from my youth. For behold, I am Understanding, and Science dwelleth in me; and the heavens oppress me. They covet and desire me with infinite appetite; few or none that are earthly have embraced me, for I am shadowed with the Circle of the Stone, and covered with the morning Clouds. My feet are swifter than the winds, and my hands are sweeter than the morning dew. My garments are from the beginning, and my dwelling place is in my self. The Lion knoweth not where I walk, neither do the beasts of the field understand me. I am deflowered, and yet a virgin; I sanctify, and am not sanctified. Happy is he that embraceth me: for in the night season I am sweet, and in the day full of pleasure. My company is a harmony of many Cymbals, and my lips sweeter than health itself. I am a harlot for such as ravish me, and a virgin with such as know me not: For Lo, I am loved of many, and I am a lover to many; and as many as come unto me as they should do, have entertainment. Purge your streets, O ye sons of men, and wash your houses clean; make yourselves holy, and put on righteousness. Cast out your old strumpets, and burn their clothes; abstain from the company of other women that are defiled, that are sluttish, and not so handsome and beautiful as I, and then will I come and dwell amongst you: and behold, I will bring forth children unto you, and they shall be the sons of Comfort. I will open my garments, and stand naked before you, that your love may be more enflamed toward me. As yet, I walk in the clouds; as yet, I am carried with the winds, and cannot descend unto you for the multitude of your abominations, and the filthy loathsomeness of your dwelling places.”—Dee & Kelly’s Daughter of Fortitude

 

“Holy, Holy, Holy art thou, and blessed be thy name for ever, unto whom the Aeons are but the pulsings of thy blood.”—The Cry of the 9th Aethyr, Which is Called ZIP, The Vision and the Voice

 

“And I believe in one Earth, the Mother of us all, and in one Womb wherein all men are begotten, and wherein they shall rest, Mystery of Mystery, in Her name BABALON.”—Liber XV, The Gnostic Mass

 

“All love songs are of me.”—Jack Parsons, The Book of Babalon