cover image DUNE: The Machine Crusade

DUNE: The Machine Crusade

Kevin J. Anderson, Brian Herbert, . . Tor, $27.95 (624pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-0158-1

SF space opera titans Herbert and Anderson continue to investigate the tantalizing origins of Frank Herbert's Dune universe, this time achieving mixed results in their fifth action-packed collaboration, the bloated but occasionally brilliant second installment of the trilogy that started with Dune: The Butlerian Jihad (2002). Twenty-four years have passed since the independent Thinking Machine, Erasmus, killed Serena Butler's son and began a bloody Holy War against Ominius, a computer "evermind." Leading the League's Army of the Jihad are Primeros Xavier Harkonnen and Vorian Atriedes, the son of cymek (human brain/robotic body) General Agamemnon, who, along with his fellow "semi-immortals," shares the computer evermind's wish to eradicate all unnecessary humans but secretly also wants to destroy Ominius. Harkonnen and Atriedes loyally report to their Priestess leader, unknowingly the political puppet of Grand Patriarch Iblis Ginjo, a former Earth slave-master. Unfortunately, the short spacehopping chapters neglect some characterizations and more intriguing story lines, such as the Arrakis conflicts swirling around Selim Wormrider's growing outlaw band and the relationship of Erasmus with his human "son," in favor of too long battle segments and extraneous details about the emotionally remote Ginaz mercenary, Jool Noret. Despite the flaws, Dune fans will still enjoy the sweeping philosophical power that surfaces, invoking the senior Herbert's remarkable vision. Agents, Robert Gottlieb and Mart Bialer of Trident Media Group. (Sept. 16)

Forecast:A $250,000 marketing campaign, including extensive advertising in publications for U.S. military personnel, should propel this, like its predecessor, onto bestseller lists.