Dune 2, Saturnalia 3, and Gifts from Egypt

Dune Part 2 is a masterpiece of science fiction that fires on all spice-laden thrusters. The world-building is simply exquisite, the sound design is appropriately surreal and ominous, and the film justifies every minute of its run-time. It really feels like we’ve been granted a window into the far future, with its own varied cultures and technologies (the washed-out look of the Harkonnen homeworld sears itself into your brain). This is cinematic myth-making at its finest.

Denis Villeneuve’s knack for visual storytelling is unparalleled; he truly “gets” sci-fi, and manages to strike awe into every scene with a grounded sense of reality. The Fremen are depicted as a complex and varied culture; the Harkonnens as sociopathic as you expect; and the troubling ramifications of the counter-revolution is precisely what it needed to be. I was expecting the worm-riding scene to be impressive… and it still managed to leave me breathless.

If I want to quibble, there were some minor changes from the book I question (namely involving a certain child who was supposed to be born and featured in the big finale), and I didn’t find a lot of chemistry between Paul and Chani. Yet this aside, Dune Part 2 easily ranks as a titan of the genre, and a modern classic. Highly recommended.

And speaking of treasures from a desert world, my good friend Kathryn Hammond sent me some very thoughtful gifts (out-of-print books on Ancient Egypt!) Each volume was wrapped with the care of a pharaonic mummy, along with freehand illustrations worthy of a Middle Kingdom scribe of Thoth.


March also saw my group of friends’ Third Annual Saturnalia, which proved a delightful and much-needed soiree in an otherwise difficult 2024. This year the theme was gods and goddesses (I hosted as Dionysus) and the creativity proved as sublime as the company.

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