There is an inherent drawback in proclaiming a protagonist to be the chosen one in chapter one: it eliminates his choices from that point on. As an historical record it makes sense to peer back in time at the formation of individual greatness, but then there is about as much tension in an historical record as there is water on Arrakis.

Like Jason in A World Without Heroes, young Paul Atreides is uprooted from his home world and forced to fend for himself on an inhospitable world where heroes aren’t welcome. Unlike Jason, Paul’s internal motivations aren’t believable. Not that Paul is a regular kid like Jason; oh no, Paul is special. He’s been trained by his mother in the Bene Gesserit ways of mental discipline, by his father the Duke in diplomacy and political intrigue, and by universe-renowned combatants in martial arts. When his breeding and background are introduced to the mind-altering spice found only on Arrakis, he becomes super-special. Make that super-spatial: he is able to view the continuum of time in all its’ endless possibilities. This does not make him omniscient, as the landscape is constantly in motion without linear progression, but it does boost his pre-spice prescience. It’s a paradox, in that the man with unlimited choices presented to him is the man without any choices. He is the chosen one, not the one doing the choosing.

According to Dr. Kynes, Imperial ecologist on Arrakis and, as Liet, leader of the Fremen, “the most persistent principles of the universe were accident and error.” Yet Paul, with his myriad futures before him, has few accidents and makes hardly any errors. The boy-prophet isn’t allowed to be a boy. After he and his mother are stranded in the desert he loses the backpack that contains all the necessities of life, including water. Like a young MacGyver he rigs up just the thing he needs to locate and excavate it from the sandslide that buried it. When Jason loses his pack of supplies in A World Without Heroes, it’s gone and he has to make do without the supplies it held. In perhaps his most vulnerable moment, Paul is alone with Chani, a Fremen girl. They have just taken another hit from the sandworm-bong and slipped away from the cave party to ah, share each other (think Matrix: Revolutions here), and Chani admits she’s afraid. It’s the first time for both of them, so Paul goes the old “you’re the girl of my dreams, and in my dreams you’re holding our baby” route, only it’s not just a pick-up line, it’s a vision. No need for a prophylactic when you’re prophetic, eh? Not that the child is of any consequence – none of the prophecies concern the desert offspring of two unwed teens – he’s not the chosen one, and so he remains off-stage until he can be properly disposed of by a rival faction. There is no comparable scene in A World Without Heroes, as it is for a younger audience, but Jason does exhibit some genuine concern for his traveling companion’s safety, which is more than Paul expresses for his slain son.

Perhaps the book must be read as an historical record, or better yet, a legend, which would account for the cover up of any flaws the mighty hero may have had. After all, Paul isn’t just a Bene Gesserit, he is the Kwisatz Haderach, the man who can pierce the darkness that stymies the Reverend Mother. He isn’t just Usul, a member of a band of Fremen, but Muad’Dib, the prophet foretold who will lead the lost tribes out of the desert. Not only does he avenge the assassination of his father and succeed him as Duke, he outmaneuvers and unseats the Emperor (something Jason isn’t able to do in the first Beyonders book). Given the fanatical following of this religious, political, and military leader, one would not expect to read stories about how he screwed up as a kid (no cherry trees on Dune for him to chop down, ala George Washington). The book begins with the test of the gom jabbar to prove that Paul is human, not a mere animal. The rest of the book depicts him as something else entirely.


One Response to “Super-Spatial”

  1. jaclemens Says:

    Started a landslide in my ego
    Looked from the outside to the world I left behind.
    I’m dreaming, you’re awake
    If I was sleeping, what’s at stake?

    A day without me.

    “A Day Without Me”, Boy, U2

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