Friday 1 February 2008

The Godmakers by Frank Herbert

It is the far future and a space-faring humanity is beginning to rediscover planets settled before the devastating Rim War. Their greatest fear is another war, so each time an occupied planet is found, any warlike tendencies lead to a corrective occupation. Particularly prized are the rare individuals with psi powers, which are better understood than now and whose development is largely linked to religion: properly channelled, psi powers can create a god.

Lewis Orne is a newly-trained member of the Rediscovery and Re-education Service, whose job is to assess the cultures of newly-found settled planets to determine their suitability for joining the Galactic Federation. While he is demonstrating remarkable ability in tackling one intractable problem after another, the Abbod of Amel, the planet which is the focus of human religion, is creating a god: exactly what and where, he has no way of telling.

Orne suffers a near-death experience which affects his outlook on life. On recovering, he discovers that he has psi powers, and is sent to Amel, where his process of self-discovery reaches a remarkable conclusion.

Herbert wrote The Godmakers after Dune. It is a much shorter work (175 pages in my 1974 NEL paperback) without the same epic sweep. Nevertheless, it reflects the same fascination with the techniques of myth-making and religion. I can recognise certain elements here which must have subconsciously influenced me when writing Scales, particularly the effect on an individual of the development of unusual abilities. However, Herbert focuses more on the process of getting there than on what happens next. It isn't a great book, but it's worth the time to read.


I've been updating the speculative fiction parts of my website. I have revised my article On Publishing Fiction, which focuses on the pros and cons of traditional vs self-publishing, and I have also amended and transferred to the website articles which previously appeared in this blog: On Marketing and Success and The Length of SF Novels: Quantity vs Quality? All of these should be of interest to those interested in the business of writing and publishing SF or fantasy.

Finally, I have posted the first two chapters of my alternative WW2 novel The Foresight War, to join Part 1 of my SF thriller Scales, to give prospective readers a good chance to try before they buy. Plots summaries and reviews can be read HERE.


Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post, but I thought it important to note that the short stories contained in The Godmakers were published before Dune. They were published in a serial format by Astounding: Serial publication: "You Take the High Road", Astounding, May 1958, "Missing Link", Astounding, February 1959, "Operation Haystack", Astounding, May 1959 and "The Priests of Psi" Fantastic, February 1960. I think it is important to consider these texts in their proper place within Herbert's bibliography as they seem to contain the seeds of Dune.

Anthony G Williams said...

Thanks for the info. Dune certainly seems to be the more mature work.