Dune: The Butlerian Jihad

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Authors: Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson {DAYSSINCEBIRTH(birth=2002-09-17,birthphrase=Release)}{DAYSSINCEBIRTH} I read: Late February - March 3, 2007 Non-spoilery short description:
10,000-ish years before the other Dune books, most of humanity is oppressed by thinking machines. The fight back begins.
Totally spoilery summary:

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|<td>This book is so twisty and eventful that rather than trying to write an overall summary, it'd be easier and more informative for me to list the most major characters and a bit on each's role.

<p>A few phrases, first <br>''Cogitor'': Philosphers who during the Old Empire put their brains in jars, so as to have an incredibly long time to think without bodily distractions. Communicates through what is basically a form of mind-meld. <br>''Cymek'': Similar to the cogitors these were people who had their brains removed, but cymeks take robot bodies. Usually "cymek" means one of the Titans and "neo-cymek" means a newer trusted recruit. <br>''Gelcircuitry'': The substance thinking machines use for their "brain". Able to be destroyed by a shielding developed by Holtzman.

<p>'''Titans''': The Titans were a group of 20 people who overthrew the stagnant Old Empire by a combination of tactical skills and taking command of the machines that did the majority of the work. They led for centuries, first using the best in biological life extension techniques, then removing their brains to become cymeks. Now that Omnius is in command, the survivors are subservient to him. <br>''Tlaloc'': Original Titan. Died some time before the events of the book. <br>''Agamemnon'': Main tactical genius, current Titan head honcho. Has fathered a dozenish sons through the years hoping for a successor, but ended up killing them. The latest is Vorian Atreides, who he thought showed the most promise until he rebelled. Hopes to take out Ominus some day. <br>''Juno'': Mate of Agamenon, student of and eventual murderer of Eklo. <br>''Ajax'': Most brutal of the Titans. Has killed billions of humans over the years. Ends up killed himself in the early part of the rebellion on Earth. <br>''Hecate'': Mate of Ajax. Disgusted by his brutality, she got through with ruling over humans and took off for parts unknown. <br>''Barbarossa'': Programmer who took control of the Old Empire's machines, giving them a desire for conquest, and the inability to kill a Titan. Killed in the League's retaking of Giedi Prime. <br>''Dante'': Seems to specialize in... record keeping and such things? <br>''Xerxes'': Lazy coward of the bunch. It was he who gave too much freedom to his thinking machines to ease his own burdens which led to Omnius taking over.

<p>'''Thinking machines''': <br>''Omnius'': Machine evermind. There are copies of Omnius on each Synchronized world. Update ships regularly travel between the worlds sharing data and plans between the copies of Omnius, keeping them near identical. In this book there are two instances of Omnius incarnations being destroyed without sharing important information. First, Giedi Prime Omnius began a new type of machine expansion, sending out automated probes to many worlds, both inhabited and uninhabited. Second, Earth Omnius was destroyed by atomics before being able to send an update regarding humans' advances in shielding. Most machines are regularly updated with Omnius and use a subset of his AI, and thus don't develop a separate identity. <br>''Erasmus'': Developed his own identity while an accident pinned him in place for 20 years, which gave him plenty of time to think. After that he chose to remain separate. Omnius allows this out of curiosity, and to learn something about humans. Erasmus is obsessed with humans, feeling that if machines can learn to predict how they act and emulate them, they can become the best of both worlds. His studies, though, involve much cruel experimentation in mental and surgical ways on many human slaves. He was actually largely responsible for the rebellion on Earth, by testing the loyalty of people such as Iblis Ginjo by giving them hints that there existed some rebellion, and later by killing young Manion Butler, under the impression that Serena would then go back to acting as she did before she had a child. Sensing things weren't going well on Earth, he took off to Corrin long before the League attack. Though cruel, I find him one of the really interesting characters. <br>''Seurat'': Another machine with its own identity, this time because of the time spent out of communication on intersteller voyages. The captain of the update ship Vor Atreides is copilot on, Seurat and Vor are as close friends as a man and a machine can be. They learn from each other, play strategic games and so on. Seurat tries to learn how to make jokes, though he's not very good at it. In the end, he's disabled (though not destroyed) by Vorian when attempting to escape Earth with an Omnius update, and left to go adrift.

<p>'''Slaves''' <br>''Iblis Ginjo'': Trustee of the machines on Earth, he hates them but has done fairly well for himself as a kind crew boss since he doesn't see any other option. That is, until prompted by Erasmus's misleading messages, he begins to think there's a widespread rebellion brewing. With the aid of Cogitor Eklo, he comes up with some tactics like a rebellion that's growing and cell-based, so it can't easily be squashed. He also starts putting some weaponry in the monuments they're building where he knows machines won't find them. When Manion is killed and Serena starts fighting back, Iblis sees this as the spark to set off the rebellion and sets things in motion. He leaves Earth with Serena and Vorian, hoping to get aid for the rebellion through the League, though all other humans on Earth end up killed. Now he's a key factor in inciting League action against machines. <br>''Ishmael'': Young Zensunni slave to humans on Poritrin. Since Buddislamics went off to find their own hiding holes instead of fighting machines, some League worlds feel justified in using them as slave labor replacement for tasks that would've been done by machines. Basically pacifist, though with Aliid's direction causes some trouble in his own way. <br>''Aliid'': Young Zenshiite slave to humans on Poritrin, friend to Ishmael, the kind to start trouble by doing things like purposefully messing up calculations, or begin defacing the work they've been doing when there's a slave rebellion elsewhere. <br>''Bel Moulay'': An older Zenshiite slave to humans on Poritrin under the possession of Tio Holtzman, he is ready for action. He incites an uprising/work stoppage and keeps some nobles as hostages, but planet leader Niko Bludd eventually sends in men with Holtzman's new personal shields, who have a fairly easy time beating down that rebellion. Moulay is executed, and now a martyr.

<p>'''League humans''' <br>''Xavier Harkonnen'': Orphaned by machines and raised by the Tantor family. A high-ranked member of the Salusa Secundus military, and when the machine attack wipes out their headquarters he ends up in charge. Greatly hurt, he ends up with replacement lungs and little sense of taste or smell. He's grown up as a close friend of Serena Butler's and they are planned to be married. After the retaking of Giedi Prime, he believes Serena dead, and eventually ends up marrying her sister Octa. He continues moving up in the military, and by the end of the book has led the attack on Earth and will be doing more. <br>''Serena Butler'': Daughter of League viceroy Manion Butler, she and a small group take the first action to retake Giedi Prime, since no one else will. She's taken captive by the machines and ends up the object of Erasmus's attention. Turns out she was pregnant with Xavier's child, and when born he's called Manion after her father. When Erasmus kills Manion, Serena starts attacking nearby machines and ends up destroying one, sparking the rebellion. Once back in the League she's further shocked by what's happened with her sister Octa and Xavier, but wants to continue on with the fight agains the machines and asks Xavier and Vorian to do the same. Due to the rebellion's immediate cause being the death of Manion Butler, she refers to the fight against the machines as Manion Butler's Jihad. <br>''Zufa Cenva'': Sorceress of Rossak, where women sometimes have psychic capabilities. Being the strongest she trains others, who can use their abilities to essentially be human bombs to destroy nearby cymek brains. Due to the mutations of Rossak, procreation doesn't always go so well; she's mostly had miscarriages other than her dwarf daughter Norma, who she doesn't appreciate. Nor does she appreciate her most recent mate, Aurelius Venport, with whom she's had no offspring successfully. <br>''Aurelius Venport'': Non-husband of Zufa Cenva, though he loves her. He's a drug man, experimenting with medicines and other substances to help out the League in other ways. One of his desires is to find a drug that can help the man of Rossak use psychic abilities as well, and he seems to be having some success. At the latest, he's been introduced to melange and sees a lot of potential in it. <br>''Norma Cenva'': Dwarf daughter of Zufa, though without psychic abilities she's a mathematical genius. Begins assisting Tio Holtzman at his request, and does come up with useful things such as suspensors and glowglobes, as well as noticing problems with some of Tio's newer creations before he does. Has some theories about warping space for quicker travel, though not fleshed out yet. <br>''Tio Holtzman'': A brilliant man, though not quite as great as he makes himself out to be. His desire to keep himself in good social standing seems as much part of his reason for wanting to create new offensive and defensive instruments as a desire to survive against the machines. He hopes Norma can help him remain productive since he seems to be going a bit dry, but eventually basically becomes jealous of her better understanding of everything than him. His earlier major breakthrough was the shielding that would destroy machine gelcircuitry that passed through it, with his new major breakthrough being a defensive shielding that stops anything of a high velocity... though creates an immense explosion if hit by a laser.

<p>'''Others''' <br>''Vorian Atreides'': Son of Agamemnon and co-pilot of Seurat, he's quite happy with his lot in life for a long time, and hopes to eventually become a cymek. However, with just a little contact with Serena Butler he is smitten by her defiant nature, and at her suggestion looks up the facts of history beyond the whitewashed and exaggerated version in his father's memoirs. This causes him to turn against the machines and become an important information resource to the League, near the end becoming especially appreciated for capturing the Omnius update that's trying to get away from Earth. <br>''Tuk Keedair'': A Tlulaxa slaver who among others captured Ishmael, he eventually ends up at Arrakis. Though determining getting slaves there wouldn't be easy, he becomes quite enamored with melange, and takes back a big lot. He's attempting to get a business relationship going between himself, Aurelius Venport with the capital, and Naib Dhartha and his people with the spice. <br>''Naib Dhartha'': Leader of a Zensunni group on Arrakis. Banished Selim for a crime he didn't commit, and now wants to improve his group's fortunes through spice trade. <br>''Selim'': An orphan, he is banished when his "friend" Ebrahim takes some water and pins the blame on him. Being without family, he has no defender and is out. Though it's essentially a death sentence, by luck he learns how to ride the sandworms of the desert, and survives through some abandoned Old Imperial science stations he finds with stores of water and food. As his skills with the worms improve, he also ends up with a massive spice overdose and has visions about how much spice leaving Arrakis would be a Bad Thing, so he starts taking action to prevent his enemy Naib Dhartha from having success at spice gathering. <br>''Eklo'': A cogitor on Earth who is left alone when the Titans take over, because his advice had been useful in their takeover. He later regrets his part in that, and thus helps Iblis Ginjo with his cause. When the rebellion is in full swing he tries to arrange a meeting with his old student the cymek Juno to come to some sort of truce, but she just ends up destroying his building and brain.</td></tr>

Followed by Dune: The Machine Crusade.