Alien Newsletter #16: Clair De Dune
In Which Our Alien Contemplates a Retelling of a Favored Future History
Network Note: After intercepting quite a bit of trenchant if occasionally distorted reporting of Earth’s hard news, we of Thee Network found ourselves quite surprised to see our alien turn its perhaps non-existent hands to film reviewing. It is a pity that our alien was not able to submit its notes on the film’s production to the creative team behind this endeavor before its release — apparently, one has to think about more than a terrestrial audience when creating a truly universal storyline. Perhaps our alien’s commentary can rectify this issue before Part Two premieres in 2023.
There is nothing the Greatest Apes enjoy speculating upon more keenly than the worlds that lie far beyond theirs. As we and other alien races who have observed them know, they have an impressive penchant for taking even the slightest of phenomena and transforming it into a storyline that can captivate crowds, improve the social standing of the storyteller and transform the culture that embraces it — pretty much everything, in other words, except express the actual truth of what materially happened in front of them. But for the Greatest Apes, that is of little concern. It is more about the world they want to live in than the one they in fact inhabit.
To that end, the GAs have constructed any number of sagas in the late 20th and early 21st centuries that have purported to capture legends of civilizations such as ours, whether they take place in ancient prehistory, such as the recently completed Star Wars cycle, or farther along in an imagined future. Perhaps the most difficult of these sagas to accurately depict has been the one I speak to you about today — the first installment of the DUNE saga. Based on a series of written texts embraced by a rebellious subset of GAs called the “hippies” in the 1960s, this saga was one of the first to merge the GAs’ scientific imaginings with its spiritual and esoteric yearnings — a heady combination which continues to be attempted to this day, with variable results.
In fact, the initial attempts to do just that with earlier retellings of the DUNE saga have become legendary for the unachievability of their ambitions. The very first attempt was embarked upon by a mystic seeker named Alejandro Jordorowsky. Apparently, not too soon after making the fascinatingly bizarre curio The Holy Mountain, Jordorowsky set out to create the entire DUNE world himself, project it into orbit and film it with laboratory-germinated aliens, but this proved infeasible (however, the attempt itself still excites wild speculation about what might have been to this day.). The project was later shunted off to a wayward Eagle Scout from Montana with a flair for the perverse named David Lynch. However, his version of events was the converse of Jordorowsky’s — a project that was made that perhaps never should have been in the first place.
Considering these star-crossed tries, it might have been, as the GAs refer to it, quixotic (a term based upon yet another tale that somehow resists a definitive depiction) to do it again. However, re-attempt it the GAs did, and it actually succeeds by keeping its storyline economic and relatively modest. However, for the sake of the GAs, I certainly hope that they do not attempt a wider release of this film for whatever intergalactic box office receipts they might want to accrue for the following reasons:
The DUNE saga follows the travails of a young prince named Paul Atreides, whose family are appointed stewards of a desert planet which serves as the sole repository of a hallucinogenic spice named melange. It is an essential tool for interstellar space travel. Such a plot point may run afoul of the Internebularian Space Trucking Fleet, who use a similar substance to stay awake through countless millennia of moving civilizational possessions cross-galaxy. Amazingly enough, the space truckers call it crank too, just like the GA truckers on earth, and as far as I know, it has not turned any of them into charismatic soothsayers.
The Atreides house is opposed by a rather disagreeable clan named the Harkonnen. This may upset the Snarkonnen, a race of atmospheric spores with a long history of discrimination. It is most certainly not their fault, they maintain, that they just so happen to fill up the bodies of those who inhale them with parasite-infested mycelia which converts the host into a condominium of agony. They’re just misunderstood. It is best that they are kept fairly far away from the humans who made this film, regardless of the virtues of their argument.
Throughout the film, there is a strong overarching commentary delivered upon colonization, pitting the cruel machinations of the Harkonnen towards the relatively virtuous (but doomed) intentions of the Atreides. Caught in between the two are the indigenous Fremen, whose prophecies of an outland savior find a tentative embodiment in the young and inexperienced Paul Atreides. This might be the hardest element of the story to translate to an interstellar audience. Many of the denizens of the known universe have internal savior capabilities where the collective wisdom can be physiologically triggered in times of doubt without the need for an external charismatic leader. And much of that collective wisdom would discourage attempts at harsh or even seemingly benign colonization. We certainly could have achieved something like this on Earth long ago, and as it was sagely determined, such an attempt would be more trouble than it was worth.
Almost no one on Arrakin uses sunscreen, for whatever reason. Even we would, and we’re not even human.
Finally, it appears that DUNE is a story about humans, first and foremost, and there’s precious little here in the story for non-humans, just like all the other story cycles Greatest Apes routinely create and rehash for yet another generation of supersimians. They can only be blamed so much — without any real experience with living species outside of their atmosphere, all they can do is project themselves onto the great wide screen of the cosmos and hope they can illuminate its greater mysteries this way. But it might make sense for us to make one of these persisting vision teleplays ourselves, and see how the humans respond to it. Much is made of firsts to win their accolades in the promotional award ceremonies the Greatest Apes throw for themselves. Winning one of them would certainly impress upon them that theirs are not the only stories worth considering in the universe.
The Greatest Apes enter into a hybrid organism space with the rise of xenobots.
Some of you scoffed at the idea of using brine to cover our tracks. Who’s laughing now?
An example of a Greatest Ape space emblem. It isn’t holographic like ours, but it will do in a pinch.