Dune by Frank Herbert
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
I don’t even know where to start with Dune. I can’t remember why I picked it up or where or even really when, but it changed everything.
The most often acclaimed aspect of this novel is the environmental creations of the author. The planet-wide ecosystems held little interest for me. I was all about the hero, the thinly veiled and often blatant allegories to various messiahs in various religions and of course, the strong Islamic influence in so much of the universe. This, combined with the changes in humanity due to a ban on machinery and computers were astounding to me. I still, to this very day, firmly and unequivocally believe in the Bene Gesserit concept of memories being coded into your DNA and the ability to access those of any blood ancestor.
This novel and all its ideals, bad and good, are such an intrinsic part of me that I can’t remember there ever being an Adrik who didn’t believe this.
Another example of this is from the superb Murbella, who doesn’t appear for many sequels. She is referred to as ‘always taking the easiest path’ when walking, which they fear will translate to dying rather than fighting. Whenever I walk anywhere, this crosses my mind. I’m not sure how to say this to properly emphasise how often this is, but I walk every day.
This book gave me a fascination for religion, a respect for humanity and likely a healthy awe of women. You can read what you like into it, this was what I got out of it.
My latest novella is out now from Pride Publishing. “Blood of the City” is a sequel to “Blood of the Land”, last year’s tale of gay vampires in Australia. It follows the same characters as they navigate their new lives in the heart of Kings Cross in Sydney and their almost inevitable journey back to the countryside in which they were raised to discover what they truly mean to one another.
It’s sexy and thrilling with a fascinating new mythos about what makes a vampire tick. Please read, rate and recommend on Amazon and Goodreads.
Read more publications from Adrik Kemp.
Imago by Octavia E. Butler
The third in a trilogy, but I read it first. I bought it outside a newsagent in a bin of pulp fiction. In truth, it was the spectacular cover that drew me in. This impossibly attractive, androgynous person with flowing golden snake hair. How could I not buy this book? Of course, the aliens within turned out to look absolutely nothing like that on the cover, but were enchanting in much richer, more resonant ways.
They struggled with identity, sexuality and love. They were so completely alien and yet so perfectly human at the same time, it was heartbreaking and breathtaking to read it for the first, second, third and more times since then.
Of course, I simply assumed the subtitle ‘Xenogenesis III’ was some strange biblical thing and disregarded it. Imagine my joy when I found out there were two preceding novels? Although it somewhat ruined things reading the last book first, I went backwards, second reading the second book and finally starting at the beginning.
These books (and every other book by Butler, which I have now tracked down and read), are all brilliant, but Imago will have a special place in my heart for being my first of hers.
On a side note, this has now reminded me that Sense8 is strikingly similar to her Patternist series. Knowing or unknowing? This would be my question for the Wachowskis.
Firestarter by Stephen King
Another King hit. I’m not sure of the order in which I read his works, but Firestarter was one of my earlier King adventures.
Before I get to the book (which I did indeed read first), I want to tell you about my love affair with the film adaptation starring Drew Barrymore. In the times of VHS, when DVD was only starting to bloom and the Internet had not yet opened its doors to illicit streaming and torrenting, I had to find a copy of it the old-fashioned way. I borrowed it from a video store. And when I say video store, I mean, I borrowed a VHS tape of this film.
Now, I used to collect these tapes, but this one, I couldn’t buy anywhere. Conveniently, I was studying film at the time, so I had access to a set-up that would copy VHS tapes. So I went out and bought the coolest VHS I could find – a red plastic one – and copied it over. I watched this film so many times, not because it was an amazing film, but because it was designed after an amazing story.
I re-read Firestarter recently and it did not stand up to the test of time. The writing wasn’t as evocative as I could remember, and it all seemed a little off. Had my imagination withered? Could I no longer identify with this little girl who was born different, with powers given to her by her parents’ drug-altered states. Or had my understanding of writing changed, so I could see the areas in which King would grow following this quite early novel of his.
It may have been neither, or both of these things, but my memory of Firestarter will always be of that little girl who was finally able to let go.