Paul of Dune—From a Hero to a Tyrant
By Kevin J. Anderson
Over the past ten years, Brian Herbert and I have explored Frank Herbert’s Dune universe, ranging from ten thousand years before the original Dune (in our “Butlerian Jihad” trilogy) to five thousand years after Dune (in our most recent pair of novels, Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune). However, we faced our biggest challenge when writing Paul of Dune, a novel intimately entwined with the original masterpiece, dealing with the most important character of the series.
At the end of Dune, Paul Atreides is a charismatic, optimistic hero who has just overthrown the corrupt Emperor; crushed his enemy, the Baron Harkonnen; and taken the Princess Irulan for his wife. He is about to launch his faithful Fremen on a violent jihad to cement his control of the galaxy. Frank Herbert wrote his own followup to Dune—Dune Messiah—but he chose to pick up the story a dozen years after the original novel: The jihad is already over, countless billions have been killed, and Paul has become a tyrant—an extremely unsympathetic character who has turned a blind eye to the corruption in his government and the awful things being done in his name.
What in the world happened between those two novels? How can we explain the dramatic shift in Paul’s character? Paul of Dune is the untold story of that vital gap in Dune history; how the legend—and tragedy—of Paul Muad’Dib unfolds; and how Princess Irulan becomes his biographer, propagandist, and myth-maker, willing to doctor history as she sees fit.
Because the story is so closely meshed with Frank Herbert’s classics, plotting our novel and adding crucial events about the brief, dramatic reign of Muad’Dib posed a considerable challenge for us. Brian and I read, and reread, and reread the original classics, as well as Frank Herbert’s notes and correspondence, in order to develop Paul of Dune. The millions of Dune fans worldwide now have the missing link in Paul’s transformation from hero to tyrant.
Paul of Dune (A Tor hardcover; 0-7653-1294-5; $27.95) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson is on sale September 19th. Herbert and Anderson will be on tour—visit http://us.macmillan.com/paulofdune for dates, a video of the authors, and more!
Afro Samurai—A Kick-Ass Franchise Is Born
By Adam Arnold and Jason DeAngelis
Coming September 2008 from Tor Books and Seven Seas Entertainment is the first volume in Takashi Okazaki’s highly-anticipated manga series Afro Samurai—the original story which inspired the hit Spike TV anime series and the upcoming video game from Namco Bandai. The visuals in this manga are breathtaking and the story is wholly unique. Blending the high-octane action seen in samurai films with hip-hop infused stylings, Afro Samurai is a series that is truly like no other. Dig?
Since premiering as an anime on Spike TV back in January 2007, the phenomenon that is Afro Samurai has grown into a multimedia sensation. But had it not been for a single vinyl action figure, none of this would have happened. Afro Samurai began as an amateur doujinshi (the Japanese equivalent of an independent comic book), serialized in the Japanese manga magazine Nou Nou Hau. There, Okazaki won a contest to have his character made into an action figure—and that action figure found its way to Hollywood and to Samuel L. Jackson, who championed the series and helped make it the cultural phenomenon it is today.
The Afro Samurai five-episode anime series was created by the famed Japanese animation production house Studio Gonzo. Studio Gonzo is known for creating some of Japan’s most critically-acclaimed anime, such as Samurai 7 and Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo. Afro Samurai, the anime, stars Samuel L. Jackson as both the titular character and Afro’s wacky sidekick/alter-ego, Ninja Ninja. After airing on Spike TV and receiving rave reviews, the series became available on DVD and Blu-Ray from FUNimation. The edgy, urban musical soundtrack for the Afro Samurai series, performed by hip hop artist RZA, was released as The RZA Presents: Afro Samurai OST.
January 2009 will see the release of the ultra-violent Afro Samurai video game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, not to mention an all-new anime movie that will air on Spike TV: Afro Samurai: Resurrection, featuring the voices of Samuel L. Jackson, Lucy Liu, and Mark Hamill. There’s even a live action movie in development by Mosaic Media, the production company behind Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and Get Smart.
In the midst of the ever-expanding Afro-mania, series creator Takashi Okazaki has been back at the drawing board, reworking his original Afro Samurai doujinshi into a jaw-dropping, action-packed, two-part Afro Samurai manga that’s black, white, and red all over. While fans of the anime will find that the manga generally follows the events seen in the first season of the anime, the differences will be of special interest. According to Okazaki, the manga is the canon of the Afro franchise, and it’s fascinating to see how certain plot details differ between the anime and the manga.
Afro Samurai Vol. 1 (A Tor/Seven Seas paperback, 978-0-7653-2123-7) went on sale in September 2008, with Afro Samurai Vol. 2 (A Tor/Seven Seas paperback, 978-0-7653-2239-5) following in February 2009.You can read a preview of the Afro Samurai manga at http://www.gomanga.com/mv/index.php?series=afrosamurai
The Matters at Mansfield: Tea—and Pistols—for Two
By Carrie Bebris
While writing The Matters at Mansfield (Or, The Crawford Affair), my fourth Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery, I found myself confronted with a challenge eventually faced by most authors of an ongoing series: how to continue to surprise readers already familiar with the characters.
In my case, that challenge proved all the more daunting because many of my characters, including the protagonists, were created by Jane Austen, an early 19th-century novelist whose works are even more beloved and widely read today than they were during her own lifetime. A recent explosion of Austen film adaptations, spinoff books, websites, and other media exposure (there is even a Jane Austen action figure, of all things) has so firmly established Mr. and Mrs. Darcy in popular culture that many of my readers know them better than they know their own siblings.
My series picks up where Austen’s Pride and Prejudice leaves off. The now-married heroine and hero, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, become embroiled in intrigues involving their friends and family. Imagine The Thin Man’s Nick and Nora Charles in Regency England, solving crimes whilst engaging in lively dialogue and romantic interplay. By the way, if you have not read Austen and think her books are all about prim people drinking tea, do not allow the cravats and Empire-waist gowns to deceive you—there are plenty of scandals and scoundrels to keep a mystery writer busy and readers entertained. (Oh, all right—some of those scandals might be discussed over tea!)
When I started work on The Matters at Mansfield, I had a premise: A “delicate matter” involving Mr. Darcy’s cousin Anne introduces the Darcys to Henry Crawford, a charming rogue with a not-so-charming history of seducing young ladies for sport. I had a crime: Mr. Crawford disappears. I had plenty of suspects: a legion of wronged women, including Anne, and their outraged parents, fiancés, and husbands. I even knew who my villain was.
But I had no weapon to fuel the plot—yet. I did not want to repeat something from a previous novel. I had used the unusual; I had used the mundane. What would it be this time?
Dueling pistols, actually. I thought I was choosing them simply because they were a weapon I had not employed before. But as I researched flintlock pistols (I went from complete naiveté to having a personal 19th-century weapons trainer), I also became immersed in the culture of dueling and the code of honor that ruled every man professing to be a gentleman.
In the process, my characters revealed secrets to me. I learned more about Mr. Crawford: not whether or why he would find himself facing a muzzle on some remote field at dawn, but how he had escaped such challenges before now. I gained insight into my villain: what kind of person would settle a dispute through “civilized” violence. And when Mr. Darcy’s own fealty to the code of honor entangled him inextricably in unfolding events, I—who thought I knew the Darcys inside and out—discovered more about my hero. And heroine.
And that, I believe, is the greatest joy of writing—those magical moments when I am my own first reader, and the story and characters surprise even me. I hope The Matters at Mansfield delights you, as well.
The Matters at Mansfield (A Forge hardcover; 0-7653-1847-4; $22.95) released September 2nd. Visit carriebebris.com to learn more about Carrie Bebris and the Mr. & Mrs. Darcy mystery series.