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Blackbird



Joined: 12 Dec 2006
Posts: 21

Greetings again.

I finished reading Hunters a little while. I've been a long Dune fan. I could give the spiel about how Dune was so formative to me in my youth, blah blah, but we've all heard that before, or so I gather from the scores of pages I've read.

I'd like to ask some of the more experienced "dunersters" (or whatever we're called) who may have explored the issue more carefully than I to help me out.

Beyond the Marty and Daniel inconsistency that irks me for much the same reason as it irks others, I question Norma Cenva. Her appearance in Legends, while...I'll put it delicately, although it didn't quite jive with anything I had recalled reading, it certainly seemed plausible. Nothing about her apperance in Hunters is plausible from what I would consider a fair and plain-text reading of the 6 books.

1. Where did Norma Cenva come from? As far as I recall, she was first (and only) introduced in God Emperor, when Leto II boasted that it was Norma who developed the "first guild ship" and not Aurelius Venport. It also notes that she gave him five children. Additionally Leto II asks, rhetorically, "Who has heard of Norma Cenva?" the rhetorical answer being, "No one, except Leto II!" Clearly, however, the Guild has definitely heard of her.

That seems to be it for her in the 6 FH books.

2. Oracle of Time? Where did this come from?

Every indication that I ever read seems to indicate that the Guild functioned thusly:

At some point, undefined, people took the spice and became Navigators. They discovered that they could use a limited prescience to guide ships more accurately than computer navigational systems. The Guild had Administrators, non-mutated humans who seemed to run the administrative and financial aspects of the Guild, as clearly the mutated Navigators weren't well... "with it" enough after their mutation to handle those sorts of things.

Where did the Oracle of Time come from? I distinctly recall that the Guild took a particularly dim view of religion, but here it seems that we have a form of religion, one centered around an almighty Oracle who has some greater or lesser form of prescience.

But don't only KWs have prescience? Wasn't Paul the first successful KW? Is Norma a KW? How can Paul be the first KW, and Norma a KW as well, since she obviously predates Paul? If she's not a KW, how can there be degrees of prescience? The six Dune books clearly seem to indicate that there is prescience and the lack of it. I fail to understand, metaphysically, how one can have "partial" prescience.

Was the Guild always some religious autocracy, accepting orders from a central Oracle? I don't see this in the first six books.

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Freakzilla



Joined: 02 Jun 2006
Posts: 5681
Location: Atlanta, GA

Blackbird wrote:

1. Where did Norma Cenva come from? As far as I recall, she was first (and only) introduced in God Emperor, when Leto II boasted that it was Norma who developed the "first guild ship" and not Aurelius Venport. It also notes that she gave him five children. Additionally Leto II asks, rhetorically, "Who has heard of Norma Cenva?" the rhetorical answer being, "No one, except Leto II!" Clearly, however, the Guild has definitely heard of her.

That seems to be it for her in the 6 FH books.


That is it.

"I course backward down the flight of ancestors, hunting along the tributaries,
darting into nooks and crannies. You would not recognize many of their names.
Who has ever heard of Norma Cenva? I have lived her!"
"Lived her?" his imaginary visitor asked.
"Of course- Why else would one keep one's ancestors around'' You think a man
designed the first Guild ship:' Your history books told you it was Aurelius
Venport? They lied. It was his mistress, Norma. She gave him the design, along
with five children. He thought his ego would take no less. In the end. the
knowledge that he had not really fulfilled his own image, that was what
destroyed him."


Quote:
2. Oracle of Time? Where did this come from?

Every indication that I ever read seems to indicate that the Guild functioned thusly:

At some point, undefined, people took the spice and became Navigators. They discovered that they could use a limited prescience to guide ships more accurately than computer navigational systems.


I have to differ with you there. I don't think Guild Navigators used prescience because it was more accurate than a computer. A mentat could do the job just as good as a computer, but a computer/mentat can't predict the ship being hit by a rogue comet or colliding with another celestial body when they come out of fold-space. The navigator simply looks into the near future to see if the space-fold is successfull. It has nothing to do with ploting the course.

Quote:
The Guild had Administrators, non-mutated humans who seemed to run the administrative and financial aspects of the Guild, as clearly the mutated Navigators weren't well... "with it" enough after their mutation to handle those sorts of things.

Where did the Oracle of Time come from?


My first guess would be Kevin J anderson.

Quote:
I distinctly recall that the Guild took a particularly dim view of religion, but here it seems that we have a form of religion, one centered around an almighty Oracle who has some greater or lesser form of prescience.


You recall correctly, at least that's the way Frank Herbert wrote it:

Appendix II: The Religion of Dune

Any comparison of the religious beliefs dominant in the Imperium up to the
time of Muad'Dib must start with the major forces which shaped those beliefs:

3. The agnostic ruling class (including the Guild) for whom religion was a
kind of puppet show to amuse the populace and keep it docile, and who believed
essentially that all phenomena -- even religious phenomena -- could be reduced
to mechanical explanations;


Quote:
But don't only KWs have prescience?


No, Guild Navigators have it. Also, it's hinted that Reverend Mother Mohiam has it:

Jessica paled. "Is there no alternative?"
"Alternative? A Bene Gesserit should ask that?"
"I ask only what you see in the future with your superior abilities."
"I see in the future what I've seen in the past. You well know the pattern
of our affairs, Jessica. The race knows its own mortality and fears stagnation
of its heredity. It's in the bloodstream -- the urge to mingle genetic strains
without plan. The Imperium, the CHOAM Company, all the Great Houses, they are
but bits of flotsam in the path of the flood."


Quote:
Wasn't Paul the first successful KW?


There was no successfull Kwisatz Haderach.

Quote:
Is Norma a KW?


No.

Terminology of the Imperium

KWISATZ HADERACH: "Shortening of the Way." This is the label applied by the Bene
Gesserit to the unknown for which they sought a genetic solution: a male Bene
Gesserit whose organic mental powers would bridge space and time.


This list of qualifications Norma does not meet to be a KH is a long one.

Quote:
How can Paul be the first KW, and Norma a KW as well, since she obviously predates Paul? If she's not a KW, how can there be degrees of prescience? The six Dune books clearly seem to indicate that there is prescience and the lack of it. I fail to understand, metaphysically, how one can have "partial" prescience.


How far can you see? Are there others who cannot see as far? Are there others who can see further? It's just another sense, in a way. Leto II was a more powerfull prescient than Paul:

The Golden Path demands it. And what is the Golden Path? you ask. It is the
survival of humankind, nothing more nor less. We who have prescience, we who
know the pitfalls in our human futures, this has always been our responsibility.
Survival.
How you feel about this-your petty woes and joys, even your agonies and
raptures-seldom concerns us. My father had this power. I have it stronger. We
can peer now and again through the veils of Time.


Quote:
Was the Guild always some religious autocracy, accepting orders from a central Oracle?


Only in BH&KJA's Duniverse.

Quote:
I don't see this in the first six books.


That's because it wasn't in the original novels.

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Blackbird



Joined: 12 Dec 2006
Posts: 21

Thank you Freakzilla! I stand corrected about how Navigators operate fold-space. You are, I think, correct.

I would dispute with you about Reverend Mother Mohiam. The quotes seem to, if I could paraphrase them, be something like this:

Jessica: "I ask only what you see in the future with your superior abilities." Reverend Mother, your other memory gives you access to the past. Can your understanding of what has happened in the past help us understand the present, and see where it is going (the future?)

Mohiam: "I see in the future what I've seen in the past." I base my predictions of the future off of my knowledge of the past. An application of history to the present. "The race knows its own mortality and fears stagnation of its heredity. It's in the bloodstream -- the urge to mingle genetic strains without plan. The Imperium, the CHOAM Company, all the Great Houses, they are but bits of flotsam in the path of the flood." BG teaching, understandings of the past, and our own understanding of our impulses at a physical level indicate that the race knows its own mortality [...]

I suppose my question about prescience is this:

How is it that Norma and/or Marty & Daniel can "see" the ship sometimes and not others?

If prescience is about time, then you should either always be able to see something at a certain time event, or not, no?

My reading of Marty & Daniel was that the net was somehow geographic, and not prescient. Someone in the Classic Dune Forum mentioned that the sixth book's conclusion was in many ways an extremely satisfactory ending because it ultimately vindicated the Golden Path: that mankind could not be controlled, that it had "surprises" and could not be contained. Duncan and the No-ship flying off into the unknown, unable to captured by Marty & Daniel, two hitherto unknown protaganists fit that bill pretty well. That same person in the forum also mentioned (seriously or not, I could not tell) that perhaps they were representations of the Herberts, husband and wife, finally seeing their creation of a man uncontrolled by any power, ultimately, uncontrolled even by them!

Now, my understanding of Marty & Daniel's net was not one of presicence, and Hunters certainly affirms that.

But now, enter Norma Cenva, who seems to have some sort of prescient abilities that can search for things, find them, and then lose them.

That seems to be antithetical to our understanding of prescience in the six Dune books. Prescience has degrees of power; I stand correceted Freakzilla, but whenever a prescient character has been unable to find a prescient vision they seek, they can either find it, and forever know it, or never find it. I would cite Paul being unable to see past his fight with [insert Fremen name I can't remember here] when he is first captured by the Fremen, and also he cannot see past the fight of the na-Baron Feyd-Ruatha.

Paul is unable to see past a Guild Navigator. It is not that he could if he only tried hard enough, or got lucky enough, but there was an absolute block on his obversations of a Guild Navigator. Similarly with Leto II, who could not see past a No-Room. Ultimately, Teg can see No-Rooms, but this can be explained in the terms of the degrees of power you suggested Freakzilla.

So the question becomes, since the Dune 6 demonstrate that, in terms of prescience, what is seen once is always seen, and what is never seen is never seen, how can Norma Cenva, using prescience, simetimes see something, and then have it disappear?

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GotrekStarbreaker



Joined: 19 Dec 2006
Posts: 65
Location: I come from a land down under (Australia)

As far as i can remember M&D can only "see" the Ithica when it is incontact/near the net, thus they are unable to find the Ithica as it has traveled to areas were the net did not cover at that point in time - M&D are not prescient

As to Norma she is prescient, thus the No field and Siona genes block her oracular visions

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Tleilax Master B



Joined: 05 Jun 2006
Posts: 2415
Location: Bandalong, Tleilax

[quote="GotrekStarbreaker"]

Quote:
As far as i can remember M&D can only "see" the Ithica when it is incontact/near the net, thus they are unable to find the Ithica as it has traveled to areas were the net did not cover at that point in time - M&D are not prescient

Agreed

Quote:
As to Norma she is prescient, thus the No field and Siona genes block her oracular visions


Then how does she find the Ithaca, a no-ship loaded with people with the Siona gene, in the alternate universe that Duncan jumps into?
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bymywillalone



Joined: 11 Sep 2006
Posts: 568
Location: Arnold, Maryland

GotrekStarbreaker wrote:
As far as i can remember M&D can only "see" the Ithica when it is incontact/near the net, thus they are unable to find the Ithica as it has traveled to areas were the net did not cover at that point in time - M&D are not prescient

As to Norma she is prescient, thus the No field and Siona genes block her oracular visions


Right they're not prescient. They just can sense everything in a significant fraction of a galaxy and process that input instantaneously, which would logically give them the ability to extrapolate the results of every action they make hundreds of years in the future with a high degree of accuracy (not perfect, they don't have all the data and there's always the chaos factor) But they're not prescient Rolling Eyes


Except that this does not explain how they were able to predict the future andset a trap planet they knew the Ithaca would fly to, even when they did not know where the Ithaca was or have any data on that ship b/c it was erased. So yeah, they are prescient

And since the NFDs are part of the net and their are now NFDs aboard Hunters (QED Omnius can now sense the Ithaca), any opening of Sandworms that doesn't start with Omnius sending the entire robot fleet to anhilate/capture that ship will make no sense.

And on Norma, then how did she have a chit-chat with Duncan while he was in the no-ship? Face it, she acquires whatever powers the authors need her to have at that exact moment in the story. if you don't believe me, check the FAQ on the dunenovels website. "affecting probability", that is the biggest copout explanation in any story since the Tower of Babel
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Fish Speaker



Joined: 31 Oct 2006
Posts: 14
Location: Boone North Carolina

bymywillalone wrote:
And on Norma, then how did she have a chit-chat with Duncan while he was in the no-ship? Face it, she acquires whatever powers the authors need her to have at that exact moment in the story.


you can apply that to any character, situation, circumstance in HofD...

and don't forget to repeat yourself ad nauseum...

and you too can write a Dune book.
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