Dune v. Dune: Who Did It Best?

I’ve been following the news of a purported reboot of Frank Herbert’s Dune on the big screen. The movie has a director – Denis Villeneuve –  and is slated for a December 2019 release. As a big fan of the original six books written by Frank Herbert as well as the many books his son, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson have produced over the years.

dune-poster-1I enjoyed both the 1985 movie – which has its flaws – and the 2000 mini-series by SYFY – which had its flaws but was more true to the original material. So yes, I am super-geeked to know we get a third crack at doing Dune right. That both Brian Herbert and Anderson are deeply involved with the script is a promising sign.

Which leads to the question: Of the two entrants so far, who did Dune better? I have to lean to the 2000 mini-series only because they seemed to more closely follow Herbert’s storyline. Of course, it helped they had more than one “movie” to tell the story, but still they did it a little better.

But when you break down the actors and actresses who played in the adaptations, its a much different story.

PAUL ATREDIES – I have to go with Kyle MacLachlan over Alec Newman. Kyle seemed to have Paul dialed in while Alec played a spoiled brat having a tantrum they had to move. I also bought Kyle more as a leader of men.

DUKE LETO ATREDIES – Jurgen Prochnow over William Hurt and it isn’t even close. I’m not sure why Hurt decided to play Leto as a wimp, but he did. Jurgen came off a what you would expect from a leader of an entire planet and a juggernaut in interstellar politics.

LADY JESSICA – This was another knockout before the fight even started. Francesca Annis is in another galaxy than Saskia Reeves. Francesca was believable as not only a great lady, but as a Bene Gesserit. Saskia never got there.

PADISHAH EMPEROR SHADDAM IV – This one was close because both Jose Ferrer and Giancarlo Giannini were superb in the role. But the nod goes to Jose who had the air of a badass, scheming Galactic Emperor about him.

GURNEY HALLECK – Patrick Stewart over P.H. Moriarty and it isn’t even close.

REVEREND MOTHER GAIUS HELEN MOHIAM – Sian Phillips easily wins this. She played her role exactly the way you imagine a Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit  would be. I keep wondering if Zuzana Geislerova ever bothered reading even one of the books?

vonsydow_max2DR. PARDOT KYNES – As I sit here, I can’t even picture what Karel Dobry looked like in the mini-series. Max Von Sydow mopped up the floor here. He has a presence on screen, no matter what role he is playing that is impossible to deny.

Max is the only reason why I even bother watching the Flash Gordon movie with Sam Jones in it. That is how you play Ming the Merciless (just in case there is a Flash Gordon reboot in the works).

THUFIR HAWAT – Freddie Jones in a landslide over Jan Vlasak. Like Dobry above, I have a hard time recalling Vlasak when I think of Dune 2000.

DUNCAN IDAHO – Richard Jordan just looked like the Duncan that Herbert wrote. James Watson? Not so much. Jordan is also the better actor.

PRINCESS IRULAN – Virginia Madsen came up short in 1985. But to be fair, she really wasn’t given a lot to do in the 1985 film. Julie Cox’s Irulan was a player in 2000 and she carried it off well. Cox gets the win here, snapping 1985’s stranglehold.

STILGAR – Dead Heat. Everett McGill is who I picture whenever I read the early Dune books. He had the look of a man who leads others and forced his will upon an environment dead set on killing him every second of the day. But Uwe Ochsenknecht had the gravitas of a leader with a cool head and his own iron will. They both played the role well.

CHANI – Let me admit one thing – I dislike Sean Young as an actress. Seriously dislike. In Blade Runner I kept hoping Deckard would retire her. Barbora Kodetova wasn’t much better. But she wasn’t Sean Young and she gets the win here.

BARON HARKONNEN – Despite the very British way he pronounced the last name, we’ll give Ian McNeice’s performance in 2000 the nod here. Mainly because Kenneth McMillian’s portrayal was way too over the top crazy. In the books, the Baron is cunning, cruel and sadistic. But he wasn’t a lunatic.

PITER DE VRIES – Brad Dourif but only because Jan Unger’s effort in 2000 was a meh.

FEYD RAUTHA – Sting was much better in the role than I expected when I heard he’d been cast in 1985. He did quite well. But Matt Keeslar played the Feyd that Frank Herbert wrote and that gives his effort the nod over Sting.

DR. YUEH – Dean Stockwell played the traitorous doctor as Herbert wrote him. Robert Russell, like Unger above, was a meh.

ALIA – This is a tie because Alicia Witt played Alia as a very young girl in 1985 and Laura Burton played an older Alia. That being said, they both played their roles well.

SHADDOUT MAPES – Linda Hunt. No more needs be said. Sorry, Jaroslava Siktancova.

THE BEAST RABBAN – Laszlo I. Kish actually did okay in 2000. But Paul L. Smith was the Beast Rabban in every aspect in 1985 and he gets the nod.

So here’s the breakdown: Names in bold are who played it better. Names in italics mean it was a tie.

Paul Atreides Kyle MacLachlan Alec Newman
Duke Leto Atreides Jürgen Prochnow William Hurt
Lady Jessica Francesca Annis Saskia Reeves
Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV José Ferrer Giancarlo Giannini
Gurney Halleck Patrick Stewart P.H. Moriarty
Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam Siân Phillips Zuzana Geislerova
Doctor Kynes Max von Sydow Karel Dobry
Thufir Hawat Freddie Jones Jan Vlasak
Duncan Idaho Richard Jordan James Watson
Princess Irulan Virginia Madsen Julie Cox
Chani Sean Young Barbora Kodetova
Stilgar Everett McGill Uwe Ochsenknecht
Baron Vladimir Harkonnen Kenneth McMillan Ian McNeice
Piter De Vries Brad Dourif Jan Unger
Feyd Rautha Sting Matt Keeslar
Doctor Wellington Yueh Dean Stockwell Robert Russell
Alia Alicia Witt Laura Burton
Shadout Mapes Linda Hunt Jaroslava Siktancova
The Beast Rabban Paul L. Smith Laszlo I. Kish

I have no idea who the people in charge of casting the reboot have in mind for these roles. But I do have three suggestions I humbly offer.

Kyle MacLachlan as Duke Leto Atredies

Jurgen Prochnow as the Padishah Emperor Shaddamn IV

Francesca Annis as Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam

All three actors are still active and it would be a great bridge between the 1985 original and the 2019 reboot. Plus, all three are really good and familiar with the material. Just a thought.

So, what do you think? Who did it better? Who should be cast in the 2019 reboot? Let me know in the comments.

As if you’d like to read my own “Dune”, check out When The Gods Fell. You can pre-order on Kindle today for its September 4, 2018 release. It will also be out in paperback and audiobook on Sept. 4th as well. It is Game of Thrones on ancient Mars. Like I said: Dune. Without the sandworms.

New COver copy


A Writer’s Life

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts and comments from fellow writers lately that lament the path we are walking in our professional lives. It’s hard to find fault with them because this is not an easy path we have chosen.

Which is why a writer will suddenly develop a nervous tick under one eye whenever anyone approaches and says: “I wish I was a writer. It must be so nice to have such an easy job and just to sit and write all day.” On the oustide, we just smile politely and say very little.

Inside, we’re all like:



A few writers I know are questioning whether it is worth continuing on. It takes 3-5 years for a writer to start making a steady income. Not every writer will ever get there. Only a blessed few will hit James Patterson numbers. I’m still convinced J.K. Rowling sold her soul to get where she did. I’m coming up on my third year of doing this and I still don’t know if I will get to a point where I’m making a stable income.

So I understand how some writers are wondering if they should keep at it. Shoot, there are days when I’m ready to chuck the whole thing out the window and see if the local WalMart is hiring for door greeters.

It doesn’t help when Amazon pulls a stunt like it has recently either. I understand, and agree, with Amazon’s move to police the scammers taking advantage of the KU program illegally. The scammer posts a large “book” usually filled with cut and paste fluff. Then employs a large army of fake online accounts to click on the book, quickly click through to the end and pile up the pages read count for that book.

The more pages read, the bigger slice of the multi-million dollar KU pie that the scammer gets each and every month.

ban-hammer-newBAmazon has been hammering away at the scammers. Unfortunately, the methods employed are also hammering innocent independent authors whose livelihood is centered on what they make selling their books on Amazon.

A handful of innocent authors have had their accounts deleted and their books removed without being able to prove their innocence.

This is making some authors question the worth of staying in the KU program. Including this author, I might add.

I would prefer Amazon jettison paying per pages read and go back to if a KU subscriber downloads the book, the author gets a set amount. No more bonuses for the top pages- read books, or most downloaded books for that matter. That would kill the financial incentive for cheating right there. Maybe even instituting an appeals process for the wrongfully-convicted-without-a-trial too?

Having yourself deplatformed by what is really the only game in town is a hard pill to swallow. Add on top of that the trolls you have to deal with on social media and at in- person events and you begin to understand why some writers are thinking of hanging it up.

Devoting the time and energy it takes to write is hard enough. Adding in the extras – marketing, dealing with Amazon issues like this one and all of the other stuff that comes with the territory – makes it a borderline soul-draining effort on more days than not.

Now, in case you think this is a woe-is-me post or that I am announcing I’m done with writing, let me state this. It isn’t a woe-is-me post and I’ll probably be writing my last paragraph even as they are slipping me inside my coffin.

But there are a lot of independent writers, like myself, out there and they are creating some fantastic reads. You probably haven’t heard of them, and that’s a shame. Because the stories they are telling are very much worth your time, effort and money to read.

starbucks-coffee-cupMost of them, if not all, are available for less than what you spend on a cup of coffee at Starbucks. How many times a week do you hit Starbucks? Go one less time a week. Spend that money on a book written by an indie writer. We’re out there in every genre you can think of.

The money you spend on that book will last you a lot longer than that cup of joe will.

And you just may help convince a writer to soldier on with their craft and continue creating wonderful worlds we can all enjoy.

Looking for something better to spend $3.99 on? My latest novel, When The Gods Fell, is available for pre-order now. It will be released as a paperback, ebook and audiobook on September 4th. Its Game of Thrones set on Ancient Mars. Surely that beats a venti cinnamon dolce latte any day, right?

New COver copy


Dispatches From Omaha: July 16, 2018

Just a short post today because – despite just three hours of exposure at O Comic Con on Saturday – I came down with the dreaded ConCrud.

For you not familiar with the term it is an affliction associated with attending a large convention of any type. Somehow, you manage to come home and wake up the next day feeling like crud. I’m told it passes quickly. I hope this is true.

But I have discovered that I intend on staying in Nebraska, well, forever. The reason?

0075450102070_CL_default_default_largeI found an ice cream maker that still makes Butter Brickle ice cream and they are limited to distributing in this area. Oh, they call it Butter Crunch, but it is Butter Brickle. As the name implies, it has a butter-flavor to it and it has toffee bits folded in.

It is pure heaven in a bowl.

So, yes, I’m a permanent resident of Nebraska now. Catch you tomorrow, after I have another bowl of this ambrosia, of course.

O Comic Con: AAR

This weekend in the Omaha area was fun for sci-fi/fantasy fans. The fourth annual O Comic Con was held at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. If you’re wondering why Omaha’s comic convention was held in another state, only the Missouri River (and the Nebraska-Iowa state line) separate the two cities.

Mid-America Center is an impressive venue, seats about 7,000 in the main arena and has a nice convention center attached to it. Saturday was my first visit to both the arena and the Con. It won’t be my last.

There was a lot offered by this con. Plenty of vendors, interesting guests (the Cowboy from the Villiage People, a couple of actresses and several artists), a large game room, several rooms set up for a variety of panels and some very well done costumes by cosplayers.


The Elite Gang, Tom Floyd and yours truly at     O Comic Con on Saturday.

I was only there for three hours, having been invited to join a panel. But it was long enough to reunite with an old friend, Tom Floyd. Tom was one of the creators of the comic book, Seadragon (Elite Comics, 1986), that I served as lead writer for on its first two issues. We talked about the last days of Elite, it didn’t end well, and caught up on what some of the other Elite alumni are up to.

But more importantly, we greenlighted two projects that any Seadragon/Epsilon Wave fans out there will be excited about. I’m writing a novelization of Seadragon, which will include two characters from the Epsilon Wave – Nightmare and Twilight. FBI Agent Brad Jefferies will be a major player and finally gets a backstory (he didn’t have one back in 1986 and it was on my to-do list back then).

SEADRADON_ONE_COVERIt is Jefferies’ backstory that helps Tom resolve an issue he’s been having. He has a project he’s developing that is set in the 1930s and would like to have Jefferies be a part of it. But how to have a man pop up 50 years in the past is the question. What I have planned for Jefferies in the Seadragon novel should solve Tom’s problem too.

So, in 2019 expect some amazing things to come out of Nebraska on the Seadragon front.

But I was there having been invited to join a panel: Criticism, Culture and the Future of Entertainment. Dawn Witzke moderated and it was supposed to be a four-person panel. Unfortunately, we had two that could not make it so Dawn and I soldiered on.

We started with an audience of 12, picked up maybe six-to-eight more after we started, lost a few throughout as the panel went on.

But it was a great panel, in my humble opinion. We had some great questions from the audience, some good points made by both audience and panelists and when the hour was up, I think we pulled off a solid panel.

A disclaimer, this was the first time I’ve done a panel at a con so I don’t have much of a sample to judge by. But I’m looking into doing a panel or two in September when I’m at DragonCon and I can only hope they go as well as this one did.

So a big thank you to Dawn Witzke for inviting me. I hope I was more of a help than a hindrance. Thank you to all of those that attended and participated from the audience. I hope we answered your questions and gave you some good information.

EDIT: Dawn has her own report on the panel: Check it out right here.

And thank you O Comic Con committee members for putting on a great con. I’ll see you next year.


#PulpRev Update

The #PulpRev stands for a movement amongst a group of talented authors. The purpose is to return to the glory days of sci-fi/fantasy pulp when writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs cranked out story after story for their readers to enjoy.

With When The Gods Fell in its final production stages in e-book, print and audiobook formats (you can pre-order the Kindle edition prior to its Sept. 4th release date right now) I’m back to work writing the next story. Oh, and also currently overseeing the production of the audiobook version of Betrayals, Book 2 of the Jack Del Rio series as well, I might add.

The next project is a Steampunk Middle Grade/YA series. The series is The Timeless Series and the first book is fittingly titled, The Timeless. The cover is already finished and looks quite sharp. As of now, the series has been plotted out for six books.

TIMELESS_V2 copyIt is set in the future and features Rock Congo, Captain of The Timeless, a ship that can sail in space, through the air and in the water with equal ease. Little John Singapore is Congo’s trusted First Mate and they are in pursuit of the villainess, Duchess Moran. A very beautiful woman with “a heart as black as the Devil Herself” says Singapore.

The Timeless can also travel in time and she will need to in order to help her Captain and crew track her prey across the eons.

The first book – I hope – will come out in late August. I hope to release the next book in the series every other month. The series became a reality after my grandson and I were talking about what kind of book he’d like to read if I wrote it. The Timeless was born from that discussion, which is why he gets to share the billing on the cover for all six of these stories.

The project after that is Firstborn’s Curse, a sneak preview of this can be found at the back of When The Gods Fell, and it is due out in December. Add to that the anthologies I’m slated to be a part of and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new work with my name on it out every month for the rest of the year.

And that is how you do #PulpRev.


Redshirt Roll Call!


Not too long back I wrote about redshirting. Now I’m finally getting a taste of the action. There are three books either out or soon-to-be-released where my doppelganger makes an appearance, with mixed results.

In Richard Weyand’s, A Charter For The Commonwealth (Book 4 of the Childers Universe), I don’t get redshirted (I think) but I do get to be an assassin.  You’ll have to buy the book to see what foul deeds are committed by fictional me.

But for those looking to see me get what’s coming to me (Hiya ChinaMike, CamelToby, et al), or at least my fictional me, there are two books that are definitely for you.

My fellow editor of Planetary Anthology: Pluto, Dawn Witzke, redshirted me in her novel, Courage of Martyrs, the sequel to Path of Angels. The book comes out at the end of the month and I am eager to read about my explosive demise. No more spoilers than that my children.

Then there is Daniel Allen Butler, who has seen me gone to glory in his novel “The Achilles Gambit” due to be released soon. Here’s how he describes it:

“Well, Richard, you are now dead. Not mostly dead, but “I went through your pockets looking for loose change” dead. Officially, utterly, completely, thoroughly, irrecoverably and irredeemably dead.

At least “Rich Paolinelli” as found in The Achilles Gambit is concerned. Aforementioned Paolinelli is now an ex-Paolinelli. He’s demised. He’s passed on. That Rich Paolinelli is no more. He has ceased to be. He’s expired and gone to meet his maker. He’s a stiff. Bereft of life, he rests in peace! He’s pushing up the daisies. His metabolic processes are now history. He’s off the twig — he’s kicked the bucket! He’s shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! HE’S FOOKIN” SNUFFED IT!!!

Just thought you might like to know that your red-shirting went very well….”

Hey, as long as I went out in style, right?


I Told You So

About 15 years ago I was working the sports beat for McClatchy Newspapers in Merced, California. The state was making a hard push to prevent the state’s high schools from using “Redskins” or “Indians” as their mascot. Even schools with the generic terms “Warriors” were targeted whether or not there was any connection to anything Indian in the logo.

I wrote a column about it, stating my opposition to the move as being silly to begin with. Having covered schools on the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni Reservations in New Mexico and Arizona back when the original uproar over the NFL’s Washington Redskins erupted, I knew that most Native Americans could care less. In fact, I saw quite a few wearing Redskins gear and if asked, said they were fine with it and felt no disrespect.

35985577_10210301555848490_1869089133503184896_nBut there was this small tribe no one has ever heard of in New York (I think) that threw a fit to get publicity – linked up with some non-American Indian extremists who are poised to drop to the ground and wail at a moment’s notice – and found kindred spirits in the state of Crazy, er, California.

One reply I got was that it was “just this one time. Just this one problematic mascot/name and that would be the end of it.”

I argued that it would merely be the tip of the iceberg. That once one attempt succeeded other groups would follow suit. Vikings, Irish, Cougars and Cowboys. No mascot, no nickname would be safe from some group that was going to be “offended” and wail about “muh feelz” until they got their way.

I was called crazy. I was called being melodramatic. That what I was saying would NEVER happen.

I’ll just drop this link for you to go read: Cowboys Slogan Protested

Never mind that nowhere does the slogan say the world needs more white cowboys, or cowboys of any specific race, color or gender.

The Forever-Three-Years-Old crowd is in full hissy fit mode. Hopefully, the University of Wyoming will stand firm against the Tantrum Throwers. It’s a pity we can’t give them all a proper spanking. They might actually get around to growing up.

In the meantime, I’m putting the over/under at the start of football season before we see calls to change the University’s mascot to something “less-offensive and more inclusive.” ESPN and the other networks will have in-depth stories by their reporters about the horrible injustice of the “Cowboys” mascot before every Wyoming game is shown. A committee of people who haven’t played a single second of sports or even visited the state will be formed to come up with the new mascot.

The University of Wyoming Gaia’s Children Maintenance Persons, perhaps?


I don’t this Wyoming cow approves.