Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What are you reading, Erik Maiershofer?

Okay, let's just start by saying that, as an academic, I read a lot of stuff. And yes, as a Christian, I read the Bible. So here is what I read for fun.
I am actually re-reading the entire original Dune series by Frank Herbert after 20 or so years because a) I want to read the two sequels to the series written by his son (who has also written a number of prequels), and b) the original series is just very-well written. In a nutshell, Dune is about generations of humanity in the future who exist in a feudal political system spread throughout the galaxy and whose entire culture, economy, and society is dominated by a drug, melange, that only occurs on one planet, Dune, as a result of a complex ecological system. Beyond that, Frank Herbert uses the series as an extended philosophical conversation on religion, economy, free-will, environmentalism, and the nature of existence. In fact, the central substance, melange, serves as a metaphor for both oil and water - two things that are vital to us, yet exist in finite supply. To try to say more about this complex series would not do it justice. It is literature that is meant to make you think about life, the universe, and everything. The book I am reading now, Chapterhouse: Dune, is the conclusion of the original series, and has one of the most poignant endings in all of literature (hint - Herbert had lost his wife to cancer before he wrote this novel, and it would be his last before his own passing).

If you like literature that will challenge you and make you think, this is definitely one you will want to read and discuss with someone. When I read it in college, I came away with thoughts about the nature of consciousness. Now, reading it many years later, I come away thinking about the nature of memory and how people conceive of themselves in terms of time.

Next, I will be reading the two sequels written by Brian Herbert, Frank's son, along with Kevin Anderson: Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune. These authors are not the writers that Frank Herbert was, but then again, few are. In general, I like reading most anything, which is why I became a historian. and at any given time I am in the process of reading five or six books. I like books that challenge me, that require me to think about them. I generally avoid books that are all plot and no thought. Hey, that rhymed!

Dr. Erik Maiershofer has worked at Hope for six years now as an Associate Professor of History in the Department of Social Sciences.

Chapterhouse: Dune by Frank Herbert, Ace Books, 1987.

This book may be purchased at, Barnes & Noble, and Better World Books.

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