Princess Irulan writes:
Any true student must realize that History has no beginning. Regardless of where a story starts, there are always earlier heroes and earlier tragedies.
Before one can understand Muad’Dib or the current jihad that followed the overthrow of my father, Emperor Shaddam IV, one must understand what we fight against. Therefore, look more than ten thousand years into our past, ten millennia before the birth of Paul Atreides.
It is there that we see the founding of the Imperium, how an emperor rose from the ashes of the Battle of Corrin to unify the bruised remnants of humanity. We will delve into the most ancient records, into the very myths of Dune, into the time of the Great Revolt, more commonly known as the Butlerian Jihad.
The terrible war against thinking machines was the genesis of our political-commercial universe. Hear now, as I tell the story of free humans rebelling against the domination of robots, computers, and cymeks. Observe the basis of the great betrayal that made mortal enemies of House Atreides and House Harkonnen, a violent feud that continues to this day. Learn the roots of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, the Spacing Guild and their Navigators, the Swordmasters of Ginaz, the Suk Medical School, the Mentats. Witness the lives of oppressed Zensunni Wanderers who fled to the desert world of Arrakis, where they became our greatest soldiers, the Fremen.
Such events led to the birth and life of Muad’Dib.
* * *
LONG BEFORE MUAD’DIB, in the last days of the Old Empire, humanity lost its drive. Terran civilization had spread across the stars, but grew stagnant. With few ambitions, most people allowed efficient machines to perform everyday tasks for them. Gradually, humans ceased to think, or dream…or truly live.
Then came a man from the distant Thalim system, a visionary who took the name of Tlaloc after an ancient god of rain. He spoke to languid crowds, attempting to revive their human spirit, to no apparent effect. But a few misfits heard Tlaloc’s message.
These new thinkers met in secret and discussed how they would change the Empire, if only they could overthrow the foolish rulers. Discarding their birth names, they assumed appellations associated with great gods and heroes. Foremost among them were General Agamemnon and his lover Juno, a tactical genius. These two recruited the programming expert Barbarossa, who devised a scheme to convert the Empire’s ubiquitous servile machines into fearless aggressors by giving their AI brains certain human characteristics, including the ambition to conquer. Then several more humans joined the ambitious rebels. In all, twenty masterminds formed the core of a revolutionary movement that took over the Old Empire.
Victorious, they called themselves Titans, after the most ancient of Greek gods. Led by the visionary Tlaloc, the twenty allocated the administration of planets and peoples among themselves, enforcing their edicts through Barbarossa’s aggressive thinking machines. They conquered most of the known galaxy.
Some resistance groups rallied their defenses on the fringes of the Old Empire. Forming their own confederation—the League of Nobles—they fought the Twenty Titans and, after many bloody battles, retained their freedom. They stopped the tide of the Titans and drove them back.
Tlaloc vowed to dominate these outsiders one day, but after less than a decade in power, the visionary leader was killed in a tragic accident. General Agamemnon took Tlaloc’s place as leader, but the death of his friend and mentor was a grim reminder of the Titans’ own mortality.
Wishing to rule for centuries, Agamemnon and his lover Juno undertook a risky course of action. They had their brains surgically removed and implanted in preservation canisters that could be installed into a variety of mechanical bodies. One by one—as the remaining Titans felt the specter of age and vulnerability—all of the others also converted themselves into “cymeks,” machines with human minds.
The Time of Titans lasted for a century. The cymek usurpers ruled their various planets, using increasingly sophisticated computers and robots to maintain order. But one fateful day the hedonistic Titan Xerxes, anxious to have more time for his pleasures, surrendered too much access to his pervasive AI network.
The sentient computer network seized control of an entire planet, followed quickly by others. The breakdown spread like a virulent infestation from world to world, and the computer “evermind” grew in power and scope. Naming itself Omnius, the intelligent and adaptible network conquered all the Titan-controlled planets before the cymeks had time to warn each other of the danger.
Omnius then set out to establish and maintain order in its own highly structured fashion, keeping the humiliated cymeks under its thumb. Once masters of an empire, Agamemnon and his companions became reluctant servants to the widespread evermind.
At the time of the Butlerian Jihad, Omnius and his thinking machines had held all of the “Synchronized Worlds” in an iron grip for a thousand years.
Even so, clusters of free humans remained on the outskirts, bound together for mutual protection, thorns in the sides of the thinking machines. Whenever attacks came, the League of Nobles defended themselves effectively.
But new machine plans were always being developed.
Copyright © 2002 by Herbert Limited Partnership