I’m one of the few people who don’t think the previous version of Dune was awful. It wasn’t great but it did okay with the technology of the time and a massive story to condense. The new version, which is only half (I wouldn’t be surprised to suddenly find it becomes a trilogy; remember how that guy Tolkien took a trilogy of films and managed to write one book, The Hobbit out of it? Sort of the opposite.)

Dune is brilliantly filmed. The film has moved pieces and parts from the book around as needed for understanding. My wife, who had never read the book, understood the story and thought it was great so the film hit that key checkmark.

When I teach creative writing, I tell people to read Dune to learn how to world build. More than world build; universe build. There’s a lot going on there. The film, so far, manages to encapsulate this new universe without overly info dumping. What’s really hard is the infodump. Although never recommended, is where the novel writer has an advantage over the screenwriter; we call it narrative. There are right and wrong ways to weave it into story. One key rule: don’t tell the reader anything they need to know until the moment they absolutely need to know it.

However, the problem for those of us who’ve read the book is that it almost does the story too much justice. Nothing about the film really sticks with me because my imagination filled that void years ago when I read it. I saw a tweet today about it that resonated “I saw Dune a week ago and loved it, but haven’t thought about it since.” And that’s true.

What Dune did very well, tell a big story, is exactly what Foundation has gotten wrong. I loved the Isaac Asimov books. It’s a huge story, telling the future of mankind across the cosmos and the man who predicts the future. It covers many years and generations. A tough thing to encompass in film, but Foundation is a series with more time than Dune. Yet, the story that is being told is so small you rarely get a sense of history and importance. The focus is on characters and while that’s great, it’s lost the possibilities that as so much larger. When character development interrupts the flow of the story it’s a negative. When a character is hurrying with her father to destroy some spaceships of the invaders and they pause to have an endearing father-daughter chat (there is, like a time urgency here) it really makes you go “Huh?”

I get what the writers are trying to do: an almost impossible task of combining all the elements of future history in small stories. I’m not sure there is a better way to do it and I’m following but not engaging.

I’d held off watching the latest season of The Expanse for some reason. Perhaps four seasons wore me out. It started small in Season One with a murder investigation and now it’s huge, encompassing the Ring Gates and many worlds. Essentially though, it’s a political struggle in the Solar System. I’m now halfway through Season Five and enjoying it once more. Great world-building. It also looks real. Gear is used, people look grungy and dirty. I don’t like these scifi worlds where everything gleams. More Lion In Winter where the king has to break ice to throw water on his face.

Dune and The Expanse are highly recommended.

Foundation. Eh. I’m watching because of sunk cost, which means it’s a mistake.