Saturday, July 21, 2007

Of Deathly Hallows and the Sandworms of Dune

It is the year 2007, and it marks two significant events in Literary History. The first is the completion of Harry Potter--- The Saga of the Boy Who Lived will now come to a close. The Second, albeit in more hush tones is the end of the saga that is Dune. Each series, critically acclaimed in their own right, though admittedly, Potter is a far greater phenomena and media darling while the latter, hidden in the back room, is best described as the Lord of the Rings of Science Fiction. What they have in common is that they are masterfully made, painstakingly crafted and their world has come to dominate our popular imagination.

Harry Potter has been a heroic journey and a coming of an age story. It is ultimately a story about friendship, and trust and love. So finally after seven books, the Saga of the Boy Who Lived comes to a close today. After all the pain Rowling has put Harry to, will she do a Frodo and send Harry into that great white Hogwarts in some mythical land? What powers does he have that the Dark Lord knows not? in a few hours when Millions of People, Children and Childlike alike will discover answers to those questions and many more plaguing their minds. Inevitably the only thing for certain about Harry Potter is that he and Lord Voldy will face each other in Battle, 17 years in the making. Ultimately this last book promises closure.

On the other hand, when the final chapter in the Saga of Dune comes to a close, its generational story spanning literally thousands of years--- a gulf of storytelling that reaches from the far past to the far future of humanity, bridged by the vision of one man comes to an end. Unlike Harry Potter, Dune closes without its creator, who has been for two decades, deceased. Perhaps that is the biggest and most significant difference and one, certainly Rowling having learned from many authors before her, will avoid.

Dune was an ecological novel, but it was more than that. its intricate world was so much mirroring our world, with characters so lifelike and a backdrop so vivid that it could be real. In Shakespearean fashion, its opening act--- a saga on its own saw two warring Royal Families out to control the greatest treasure in the Universe and one boy--- Paul, heir to more than his father's title like Harry Potter, would face trials that would break a lesser being. Paul would be coming of age at a time of war, without rank nor the rich heritage rightfully his. Yet Paul Atreides would wrestle and face the truth about his destiny and his history. And that is where any similarities, albeit flimsy would end. After all, Paul Atreides would go on to become an Anti-Hero and his character would ultimately meet his end, but his story and that of his family--- his children are but chapters in a far greater scheme and would just be the beginning of an even greater universe.

For people around the world, Potter is a phenomena that could only arise from our time. We've only scratched the surface of what a tiny village like the Earth could be involved with and Potter is a synchronous phenomena that only this era's communications marvel could attain. It is the same mechanism behind such mad fandom as Star Wars is, for example. Contrast to Dune which began in the 1960s and whose original series "ended" in 1987 (to think it ended when i had just begun school), with the passing of its author. Today the story and its ending is continued by Frank Herbert's son, Brian and writing buddy Kevin Anderson. As it was then, it today is a subdued revolution worming into the hearts and minds of people. Two literary series, a product of their time are both coming to a close.

Will there be more adventures in the Years to come?

For Dune there are other stories to tell--- it is such a huge universe with infinite possibilities. Who is to say, no richer stories have yet come to pass for that Universe? For Potter, Rowling has not closed the door entirely but perhaps having consumed the better part of two decades of her life, would want a different taste of air to breathe, at least for a little while. In literature, nothing really comes to an end--- Doyle killed Holmes and he came back after all. Who knows, really? Perhaps one day, Rowling may come back to her Potter or perhaps if Harry lives and fathers a dynasty--- there are stories to tell there. It is, a Universe of surprises and infinite possibilities, is it not?

In the simplest of terms, Good and Evil must do battle. The beauty in these creations though is how their authors magically, masterfully and painstakingly craft the universe around such basic premises that do more than entertain: they make imagination and their characters real.