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I Found Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ Script. ‘Dune: Part Two’ Is Better

I Found Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ Script. ‘Dune: Part Two’ Is Better

As with the book, the script begins with the gom jabbar scene between Paul Atreides and Reverend Mother Mohiam, except in this version the Atreides have already made their trek from Caladan to Arrakis. Right after Paul passes his test with the box, the four wise men of Thufir, Yueh, Gurney, and Duncan present Duke Leto with a wounded Fremen and three others assassinated by the Harkonnens.

HAWAT

Assassins! They trapped three of these poor fellows over there beyond the cliffs.

HALLECK

There was a worm. We had to run for it.

You can see the problem: Right off the bat, Herbert is using dialog to discuss action scenes that would be far better to see than to hear about. He’s also introducing concepts left and right (the Bene Gesserit order, the Kwizatz Haderach, sandworms, Fremen, Harkonnens) without giving any context to them.

As in Lynch’s film (and the book itself), we get those lovely inner-thought voiceovers. Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac in Part One) thinks to himself, “We’ve been on this damned planet only two days and already the Harkonnens are at work!” Often these VOs contain psychic conversations between two characters, a technique Villeneuve uses several times in Part Two, as between Feyd (Austin Butler) and Lady Fenring (Léa Seydoux).

The stage-play-esque stretches of barefaced expository dialog continue unabated when Herbert’s script introduces the world of the hedonist Harkonnens, who covet a globe of Arrakis made out of jewels in their Guild Ship decorated with pornographic paintings. Introducing a character not in Villeneuve’s film, they’re shown torturing Wanna with an “agony box” as Feyd essentially videotapes it for Wanna’s husband, Doctor Yueh, so he will do their bidding against House Atreides. She calls them “monsters,” with the Baron articulating, “Of course we are, my dear Wanna. We will do anything to regain our planet and its precious spice … We must rule Dune and the spice. We all need the spice. It lengthens our lives and you Bene Gesserit witches need the spice for your dreams.” Not quite Paddy Chayefsky.

Stilgar arrives at Leto’s Great Hall with a whole contingent (including Mapes, Kynes, and Chani) to extract the water from the dead Fremen using a deathstill. Paul tells his mother, Jessica, that he recognizes Chani from his dreams, prophesying that she will bind him to the Fremen. Stilgar gifts his people’s water to Paul, whom he instantly recognizes as the Mahdi (the messiah of legend, though it is never explained beyond that he may be “the Shortening of the Way”). Duncan joins the Fremen as an olive branch, and Mapes joins the Atreides as a house servant. On her way out of the hall, Chani gives one of those backward glances to Paul that Zendaya does so frequently in the new movies.

After Wanna unexpectedly dies during torture, the Baron plans to use Yueh to kill Paul with a hunter seeker while preserving Yueh’s wife in a “crystallis” (a crystal case). Count Fenring (who will lead the Emperor’s Sardaukar to attack the Atreides disguised in Harkonnen uniforms) arrives at the Guild Ship. Disgusted by Harkonnens and acting only in the Emperor’s interest, he takes the recording of Wanna’s torture to hand off to Yueh.

On Arrakis, the Duke’s remaining soldiers and luggage (including atomics) are delivered, with Gurney playing accompaniment on his Baliset. Herbert was reportedly insistent that the playing of this instrument appear in the film, something which was filmed but cut from Lynch’s film and Villeneuve’s first Dune, but which finally appears in Part Two. Herbert then includes the scene where Duke Leto rescues the carryall crew from the worm, almost beat-for-beat like Lynch’s, though Villeneuve gave the scene more juice by having Paul be nearly killed. One great moment acknowledges the injustice served to the Fremen as two of them (guides) try to board Leto’s ornithopter:

KYNES (VO)

We have no room for them.

PAUL (VO)

There’s a capsule history of the Fremen!

We get a cool scene of Duncan fighting literally back-to-back with Stilgar against a squad of Harkonnen amid the dunes. Stilgar chastises Duncan for using his shield (it attracts the worm), then they capture a Harkonnen who warns them there is a traitor in their midst. The scene where Mapes cuts herself to show fealty to Jessica is there, as is the scene of Paul and Gurney practice-fighting (although sans shields) and the hunter seeker’s attack on Paul.

Because Herbert cannot let much go, we get the banquet scene that has been left out of both theatrical adaptations of Dune because the political machinations it reflects are not essential to the plot (Leto is going to die soon anyway). The banquet winds up eating up nearly 25 pages of the script before it is interrupted by Count Fenring’s attack on the Atreides fortress with the aid of Yueh lowering the shields.

Best Ebook Subscription and Audiobook Services (2023)

Best Ebook Subscription and Audiobook Services (2023)

While an ebook subscription might sound ideal, you should take some time to consider the pros and cons of each one. These digital reading services are often billed as the equivalent of Netflix or Spotify for books, and there are similarities, but ebook subscriptions also have some unexpected restrictions.

Content: All ebook subscription services offer limited libraries of ebooks. (This is where the Netflix comparison is useful.) They may boast more than a million titles, but that total doesn’t necessarily include any works by your favorite authors; none of the services we tested had a single title by Cormac McCarthy, for example, though some had audiobooks of his works.

The big five publishers (Penguin Random House, Hachette, Macmillan, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster) dominate the bestseller charts in the US but have had limited dealings with ebook subscription services so far. Current best-seller lists are not well represented, and the modest list of mainstream hits that appears mostly comprises older titles. Whatever service you are considering, we advise browsing the available library of ebooks and audiobooks before you commit.

Reading Habits: If you only read one or two books a month, you might be better off buying popular titles, recommendations from trusted friends, or works by your favorite authors. That way, you get to choose the best ebooks and keep them. With ebook subscriptions, you lose access the moment you stop subscribing, and the library of available books can change at any time without notice.

Voracious readers who are happy to try new and unfamiliar authors will likely get the most value from ebook subscriptions. But while these services are typically described as unlimited, they often do have hidden limits. This is where they differ from services like Spotify and Netflix. With Scribd, for example, the available library is reduced when you hit opaque limits.

Support: Make sure the devices you like to read on are supported. Most ebook subscription services offer apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac, at a minimum. Languages, accessibility, and extra features like search vary, so do your research to make sure the app supports your needs. Sadly, many ebook readers, like Kindles, are not compatible with ebook subscription services other than their manufacturer’s offering. 

Audiobooks: Unlike ebook subscription services, some audiobook services offer a monthly credit system that allows you to buy audiobooks you can keep, even if you stop subscribing. Others offer apparently unlimited access to a streaming library, but there are often hidden limits that narrow your choice for that month after you’ve listened to an audiobook or two. Consider also the maximum bitrate for audio streams, as this differs from service to service and can impact the quality of your audiobook.

20 Best Tech Books to Gift (2023): Biographies, Startup Histories, Exposés

20 Best Tech Books to Gift (2023): Biographies, Startup Histories, Exposés

Technology is exerting an ever-growing influence on our world. Give the gift of knowledge to enlighten the technology-obsessed people in your life and help them learn more about the companies and characters dominating the industry, the news cycle, and, increasingly, our lives.

From painstakingly researched biographies and histories charting the rise and fall of modern business empires to deep dives into the birth of influential gadgets, these are some of the best tech books to gift. You may also be interested in our Best Cookbooks and Best Kindles guides.

Updated November 2023: We have added several new picks to this guide, including A Trip into the Mirror World, Against Technoableism: Rethinking Who Needs Improvement, and Sid Meier’s Memoir!: A Life in Computer Games.

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.

Quan Millz Was the Biggest Mystery on TikTok. Until Now

Quan Millz Was the Biggest Mystery on TikTok. Until Now

Reaction videos started flooding TikTok this summer, all of them with the same question: Who is Quan Millz? 

The answer varied depending on the person, but each new response carried with it some variation of curiosity, shock, and excitement. “If you enjoy watching shows like Paternity Court,” one TikTok user commented, “or old school Maury Povich, if you’re old enough to remember Jenny Jones and Ricki Lake, you too might enjoy this reading experience.” Read another caption: “Quan Millz is so unhinged we must protect him at all costs.” 

There seemed to be no corner of the internet Millz had not reached. On the podcast Sleeping In Mom’s Bed, rapper Danny Brown recited some of his favorite books to host Christina B. “I want to collect every book this motherfucker got,” he said, laughing, as they scrolled through Millz’s eye-popping, sometimes X-rated book titles. There was Pregnant By My Husband’s Granddaddy and Tax Season Thot. Also, Hoe Yo Coochie Stank: A Bacterial Vaginosis Love Story. And who could forget, Let Me Smell Your Dick. “All Black men have been through these things,” Brown joked. “I don’t even really want to read them. I’m gonna start collecting them like Pokémon cards.”

Brown’s point being this: Very little is known about Millz except for the fact of his prolific output. He is an author who has self-published dozens of books but, until very recently, has evaded real mainstream attention. The bulk of Millz’s books are available on Amazon for less than $1, and fall squarely within the subgenre of street lit, a category of American literature known for its controversial and confrontational realism of Black life in the “inner city.”

Buzz around Millz’s work started in July, when a TikTok user by the name of @justdesean posted a video to his page. He wondered if his 223,000 followers knew who Millz was. At the time, most people outside the very-insular worlds of street lit, urban fiction, and Black romance hadn’t. “I want to know which book you’re likely to pick up and read,” he said. “Are you braced?” What followed became the discussion of group chats and comment sections for weeks to come. The books he highlighted are some of Millz’s most polarizing titles, like Becky Put Raisins in the Potato Salad, to which @justdesean exclaimed, “Look at the potato salad! Hell no!” When he got to Old Thot Next Door—if social media is any indication, Millz’s most recognized title—he wondered, “Whose grandma is that?” The video exploded across TikTok, seemingly reaching Twitter and Instagram feeds overnight, and has since garnered more than 2.1 million views.

As online chatter intensified, the mystery of Millz’s identity persisted. Who was he?

Raised in Miami, Millz first started writing in 2014 on the advice of a friend, his former business partner and coauthor N’Dia Rae. (Rae is also a fairly prolific author in the genre whose Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Side Chicks trilogy, a story about sisterhood and the loss of trust, was described on Goodreads as “a page-turning jackpot.”) He wasn’t that far out of college, and was working various odd jobs. Rae convinced him that this was an easy way to earn passive income. Millz dabbled in romance writing at first, writing under a different pen name, but found a more energized readership in street lit. In 2017, he officially went solo, carving out a unique niche in a genre already overflowing with stories of visceral originality. 

How an Iowa School District Used ChatGPT to Ban Books

How an Iowa School District Used ChatGPT to Ban Books

For bookworms, reading a headline like “School District Uses ChatGPT to Help Remove Library Books” can be blood boiling. As Vulture put it earlier this week, it creates the sense that the artificial intelligence tool is once again “[taking] out its No. 1 enemy: original work.” And it is. Using ChatGPT’s guidance, the Mason City Community School District removed 19 titles—including Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Toni Morrison’s Beloved—from its library shelves. But there is another truth: Educators who must comply with vague laws about “age-appropriate” books with “descriptions or visual depictions of a sex act” have only so many options.

Signed into law by Governor Kim Reynolds in May, Iowa’s SF 496 is one of those “parental rights” bills that have become popular with Republican lawmakers of late and seek to limit discussion of sexuality and gender identity in schools. (Some have likened Iowa’s bill to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.) Its stipulations are a sweeping attempt at eradicating any discussion of sex or sexuality, and as Mason City School District’s assistant superintendent Bridgette Exman explained in a statement to the Mason City Globe Gazette, “it is simply not feasible to read every book and filter for these new requirements.”

Under the surface of this is a unique conundrum. Broad bans on sexual content that use vague language like “age-appropriate” already leave too much room for interpretation. It doesn’t matter if what’s in the book is the equivalent of softcore slashfic or a harrowing account of childhood molestation. Now, in Iowa, there’s a case of AI—which doesn’t always fully comprehend nuance in written language—being asked to interpret a law that already lacks nuance.

The result, then, is districts like Mason City asking ChatGPT, “Does [insert book here] contain a description or depiction of a sex act?” If the answer was yes, the book was removed from the district’s libraries and stored. But what about when the answer was neither yes nor no? The Bible, for example, “does contain passages that address sexual topics and relationships, but it generally avoids explicit descriptions of sexual acts,” according to ChatGPT. The Bible isn’t on the list of 19 books that got banned, but you can see how quickly this can get confusing. (David going to bed with Bathsheba isn’t a description of a sex act? Uh, OK.)

When I relate this story to Exman, she says she got similar answers, where ChatGPT would say a particular book had sexual depictions but then give context. The example she gives is Patricia McCormick’s Sold, about a young girl who gets sold into prostitution. “ChatGPT did give me what I would characterize as a ‘Yes, but’ answer,” Exman says, but “the law doesn’t have a ‘yes, but.’” Ergo, McCormick’s book is one of the 19 on her district’s list.

The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.