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Bubble Rain (Imanok, 2001)

May 23, 2024

Bubble Rain cover

Bubble Rain for MSX2 is a simple, yet addictive, game. You are tasked with 64 rounds, in each of which you have to point a big arrow towards a few coloured bubbles, to shoot another bubble at them. The bubbles stick together, but when three of the same colour touch, they disappear. Any bubbles of other colours also sticking to those and nothing else, will vanish as well then. The goal in each round is to empty it completely.

Bubble Rain game scene

The bubble gun/arrow is controlled by two rather cute dragons who look a lot like those in Taito’s Bubble Bobble. The green one to the right turns the arrow, while the blue one to the left fetches the next bubble to shoot. This way, you can see which colour the next bubble will be. In the picture above, the red bubble was shot at the wall. It will have bounced and maybe reached the other red ones above, in which case all five of them would have vanished. While you are shooting bubbles, the roof is coming down, pushing the bubbles toward you. This creates a time limit on your efforts. When one bubble drops below the line just above the arrow, it’s game over. Luckily, as is not uncommon with puzzle games, there are endless retries.

The 64 rounds are divided into eight worlds, each with their own music and side decorations. After each world, you receive a password. The music uses OPL4, but that doesn’t mean it won’t become annoying quickly. Imanok should have chosen to change music each round, like Psychnosis did with Lemmings. There is a second, and in my opinion, unneeded time limit created by the fact that after about seven seconds, the bubble will fire anyway, in whatever direction you’re pointing.

Bubble Rain game scene 2

The first world is pretty straightforward, after which you get a somewhat more difficult world. Still, most of the rounds have a trick to them, where you can clear the entire round with just a couple of shots. The first picture above, for instance, requires you no more than 8 shots, since the arrow will only shoot bubbles in the colours that are still there.

It took me just two sessions to clear the first 62 rounds. The last two rounds, however, are a lot more tricky. Round 63 just presents you with six rows of randomly coloured bubbles. This means that you get useless bubbles all the time, and quickly it all becomes a big mess that is rapidly coming toward you. The final level had four long strings of bubbles, again in all colours, hanging from the top, which means you have to quickly start clearing them since there is almost no room for the ceiling to drop.

When you do finally make it, you get a nice animation with the two dragons before a huge pile of money. There is a bit of story here that involves a book and some monster threatening these worlds, a problem that has now been solved.

As I mentioned, Bubble Rain is fun, addictive, colourful and for the most part, not too demanding, so suitable for kids.


My book was published

May 20, 2024

For the sake of my child I must hasten to save
All the children on earth from the jail and the grave.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, ‘Mother to Child’ (1911)

I've written a novel. It's in Dutch, and it's for sale wherever they sell Dutch books and ebooks, such as the internet.

Diederick de Vries
De molens van Thengin
In dit boek volgen we een jonge IT'er die plotseling wordt meegesleurd naar een wereld waar duurzaamheid de norm is. Aanvankelijk sceptisch begint hij zijn weg te vinden. Maar zijn zoektocht naar identiteit leidt hem naar een geneticus in een verre stad.
€18,96 Paperback

“Change the system, not the climate,” So say countless websites, newspapers, protest signs and other publications. The reason for this seems clear. The free market economy ensures that we are pushing at full speed towards the hurricane called climate change, despite some promising but abstract intentions here and there. We need a course change.

But how?

The free market economy has brought us individual freedoms, food for almost everyone, medical science, cheap flying holidays, social media, foldable smartphones and lawnmower robots. It has also brought the climate change mentioned, antibiotic resistance, acidification of increasingly empty oceans, a plastic island, ubiquitous PFAS, unprecedented inequality and a steep global decline in agriculturally suitable land.

As the theory goes, the free market allows its inhabitants to buy better and cheaper products using the money that they own and earn in exchange for a contribution in the form of labour, while also paying taxes to maintain medical care and highways. The system works bottom up instead of top down, which means that instead of a bureaucracy determining what should happen, everybody can start a company to market a product. This creates individual freedom while also being somewhat meritocratic. If we want a more sustainable and free meritocratic society that averts the current crises, that system must therefore motivate people to work, do what needs to be done, from a personal incentive and without a central planning agency.

The latter in particular does not seem to be fixed with everyone. Eco-socialists such as Michael Löwy and Kōhei Saitō perform literary studies into Karl Marx's work and find ecological ideas that the socialist countries of the twentieth century never showed in practice. While they state bluntly that the free market economy with its wasteful consumerism is to blame for the crises mentioned, they are unable to formulate an answer that goes beyond a gigantic reduction in living standards combined with individual job guarantees. Things that are strongly reminiscent of multi-year plans and politburos.

The widespread fear that degrowth will hurt and make life less enjoyable is understandable. When a free market economy so much as just stops growing, people immediately notice this in their wallets. That this will be worse for degrowth seems like a given, and this idea appears to be the most important reason for the lack of action by governments. Climate mitigation and other such goals are defined as percentages with attached years, but never is made clear how these goals are met. And so, when solving the aforementioned crises, we seem fully focus on producing as much, more or less sustainable, energy as we can, while it is abundantly clear that a truly sustainable society demands a more holistic set of measures.

The fallacy underlying the concern for reduced prosperity is that it is not realized that in a society that does not produce products to trade them as much and as often as possible, no one has to replace their mobile phone every three years. Instead of having to buy, lease or receive from employers half a dozen cars, fifteen phones, eight laptops, countless pieces of child furniture, tons of clothes, toys and other disposables, the consumer in a society that produces for use instead of trade only needs a fraction of that for the same material welfare.

“We have to imagine a future we want to live in so we can build it,” Maria Ferell writes on a blog on better smartphones. British analyst and expert on stories John Yorke states in 'Into the Woods, A Five Act Journey into Story' (Penguin UK, 2013) that “Exercising problems in fiction helps to solve them in reality.”

The world we live in reduces us to mere consumers and labourers who destroy the world little by little with everything they do. In my book, 'De molens van Thengin - Een utopie' I describe a society where we could find back the humanity inside us instead and in which we are lives would truly be sustainable, free, equal and prosperous.

“Of course it's utopian and impossible until it's done,” is a quote often attributed to Nelson Mandela. That it was Elbert Anderson Young, the president of the American National Credit Men's Association, who said it in 1903, hardly detracts from its significance. Twelve years later, Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote 'Herland', a feminist utopia in which women, among other things, had the right to vote and wear trousers. It was a time when Europe was still under the yoke of emperors and kings, and when entire continents were suffering under European empires, firmly convinced that this would not change any time soon. But everything is impossible, until it is inescapable.


My Sony HB-F1XV

May 16, 2024

My newest retro computer, and the one I use most often, is my glorious 1989 Sony HB-F1XV MSX2+

My Sony HB-F1XV

My Sony HB-F1XV

The Sony HB-F1XV is an MSX2+ computer, released purely for the Japanese market. In October 1989, it was the last MSX built and marketed by Sony. Originally, it had 64 kB RAM, 16 kB static RAM with MSX-JE (連文節変換) and 128 kB Video RAM, a Zilog Z80A CPU clocked at 3.5 MHz, a Yamaha V9958 video chip capable of displaying 19,268 colours simultaneously and both a 4 channel YM2149 (PSG) and a 9 channel YM2413 (OPLL) FM audio chip. The machine has RGB video and RCA audio and video output connectors. A hardware pause button, a speed-controller slider for slow-motion and a ren-sha-turbo speed adjustable auto-fire for both joysticks and the space bar are nice features for playing games. To the right of the space bar, there is a Kanji button that allows the user to select either Latin or Kanji characters.

I own a Mitsubishi ML-FX1 MSX1 and a Philips VG8235 MSX2 and have owned a Philips NMS 8250 as well, but none were as great for gaming as my Sony HB-F1XV, which I bought in August 2020 via the trading forum on msx.org. The person who sold it to me had upgraded its RAM to 512 kB, had replaced the clock battery and its holder, and had put in new capacitors and a new PC disk drive. In the spring of 2021, I had a switch installed that clocks the CPU at either 7MHz or the original 3.5 MHz and had the worn-out keyboard membrane replaced.

Design

The HB-F1XV has a wedge-shaped design that was a popular choice for home computer manufacturers. Amigas, Atari STs, Acorns and many MSX computers all had the user bend their wrists a little extra when typing on the tilted internal keyboards. Ergonomics were perhaps considered less important than for users to be able to correctly identify the keys.

Sony HB-F1XV back

At its back, from left to right, are RGB out and RCA audio and video out ports, a channel selector switch and the RF output port it is for, a Centronics compatible printer port, a standard MSX tape port, the second cartridge slot, an integrated power cable, a power switch and at the lower rightmost end, a ground terminal for good measure.

Sony HB-F1XV right

On the right side of the HB-F1XV there’s a 720 kB DS/DD floppy drive and two standard Atari joystick ports. Behind the Sony disk drive front design is the PC disk drive that replaced the original floppy drive.

Sony HB-F1XV left

On the left side, there is the CPU speed select switch that I had built in. It has a little LED that will light up yellow when the CPU is racing along at 7Mhz. Sometimes, especially when reading from or writing to floppies, the CPU will be put back to 3.5Mhz to prevent disk errors, in which case the LED is turned off for a moment.

The HB-F1XV, being exclusively for the Japanese market, requires a 100V power socket. My house only has 240V sockets, so I needed to buy a converter. I found one that Japanese citizens use when they go abroad and had it imported.

Standard

MSX2+ was the third generation of the MSX standard. The standard was meant as a way to have software and hardware manufacturers have an increased market potential without having to port every product to a dozen incompatible platforms, as was the case before. The successive generations, MSX, MSX2, MSX2+ and MSX TurboR, each improved on the last one with better memory architecture, graphics, or CPU, but remained backwards compatible in both hardware and software. MSX computers were mostly popular in Japan, Korea, Spain, the Netherlands and South America.

Sony HB-F1XV box

The MSX platform was designed as a modular standard. Internally, manufacturers could, and would, plug RAM and ROM modules wherever they wanted, logically speaking, which meant software was often at a loss finding it. The upside, however, is that, while the MSX2+ with all its colours and even the MSX TurboR with its 16-bit RISC CPU were not what MSX standard owner ASCII Corporation had envisioned as MSX3, it is the platform’s modularity which allows us now to create that MSX3 from any MSX computer.

Normally, I have both cartridge slots occupied. The first slot holds a GR8NET cartridge that has another 1MB of RAM, a Micro-SD card reader, an Ethernet port and a 3.5mm audio jack to make life easier. The second cartridge slot has a Modulon slot expander with a WozBlaster Reloaded OPL4 audio cartridge with 2 MB of sample RAM and 24 channels of 16-bit 44.1 kHz audio and a PowerGraph Lite v9990 video cartridge for screen resolutions up to 1024×424 pixels and a maximum of 32,768 colours simultaneously. Both are modern implementations of almost time-correct hardware and, except for the CPU, what many think of as a baseline for MSX3.

Myths & Dragons (KAI Magazione, 2018)

“Myths and Dragons” by KAI Magazine (2018) uses both the OPL4 and the V9990 when selected in the game’s menu

I’ve used RGB to HDMI converters with flat screens in the past, but these analogue games need pixel perfect timing, so I bought a Philips VS0080 monitor, the same one that Philips sold in beige to C64 and Amiga owners as “dedicated” apparel for their platform. During the eighties, games for MSX were normally developed on more powerful machines like the Atari ST, but they were tested on actual MSX machines by the developers themselves, who, during testing, became so good at their own games that they felt they had to make them more difficult. This is one of the reasons why games from that time are so much more challenging than modern games.

Software

As visible in the picture above, my Sony HB-F1XV has a big flashy sticker above the first cartridge slot. Here it is in close-up:

Sony HB-F1XV sticker

The big red text on the left means “creative tools” and underneath it says “3 disks”. The diagonal texts mean, from left to right:

  • Music Software – F1 Synthesizer
  • Graphics software – (?) animation graphics editor ver2.0
  • (?) Twenty lines Word Processor – (?) version

These texts refer to three disks that originally came with the machine. The first two disks held software to create music and animated graphics. The word processor made use of the machine’s capability to write Kanji characters. This machine was meant to create, not just to consume.

Sony HB-F1XV Graphics suite

Sadly, I don’t read Japanese, and PCs are much more convenient for creating content, so to me this is mostly a games console, except I’m typing this text on my Sony.

I could go on about this machine forever, but I need to stop here. One final thought, though. Look at the picture with the full setup. With all those expansions and cables extruding from them, it looks like the Sony is on life support, and perhaps you’d think that, without those expansions, how lively would this geriatric machine really be? You’d be wrong. Just the other day, I was playing Konami’s Road Fighter from the original cartridge from 1985. For a game to be exhilarating, addictive and fun, it doesn’t need all those colours and all those audio channels. It just needs to be a good game. And thanks to its backward compatibility, the Sony’s potential library is huge.


MSX Elite

May 13, 2024

We hope you die a horribly long lingering death at the hands of a slimey green lobstoid if you’re not blown to bits by our sun

The above text is from the game Elite, by David Braben and Ian Bell, more precisely from the MSX disk version of the game. Elite was originally an 8 bit wireframe 3D-game, the earliest predecessor of Elite:Dangerous, a game I also enjoyed, but that is for another time. “Wireframe” in this context means that the surfaces of the 3D-objects in the game are not filled in, but rather only outlined, like in the screenshot below. Through the viewport of the player’s spaceship, four more ships are visible: a Krait, a Mamba, a Wolf, and an Asp Mk. II. You can clearly see the shapes of the ships, but not their colouring or textures.

Elite cockpit

Anyone who has played Elite:Dangerous will instantly recognise the scanner in the middle of the console below the window, indicating the position of each ship, relative to the player’s.

Elite was originally created for the BBC Micro, but subsequently ported to several platforms, such as Sinclair’s ZX Spectrum, the Commodore 64, the Apple II and 16 bit machines such as the Atari ST, Amiga, and PC. All these versions differed in their ships, missions, and other game elements. The MSX version of Elite was programmed by Rob Nicholson of Mr. Micro and released by Firebird in 1987, who also programmed the Atari ST and Amiga versions. Although the MSX2 standard was already a year old then, the game was made for the first generation of MSX computers. It came in two versions, a tape version and a disk version, which also had different ships.

The box and the manuals that came with the disk version were actually for other versions. Through the sticker reading “MSX” that was on the box, “ZX Spectrum 48K” could be read easily.

Elite MSX sticker

The manual mentions a ship called “Fer-de-Lance”, which is in the tape version of MSX Elite, but not in the disk version of the game, and omits many that are. The screenshots do no correspond either. The one on the back of the box is in black, white and pink, further betraying that the box was created for the ZX Spectrum version. The MSX Elite version uses 16 colours.

Elite box back

The box contained the disk, a manual, and a novel called “The Dark Wheel”, written by David Holstock, to get the player into the atmosphere of the game. For me, as a kid in the eighties, it worked. The game has a clock that betrays one's total playing time. When I finally made Elite, it said 8 days, 22 hours and 19 minutes.

For those who never played any of its successors or variants, Elite is an open-ended space game. The player starts out with a badly outfitted ship and a hundred credits in a relatively safe but not very lucrative solar system. There is no set goal but to attain the rank of Elite. To get there, one needs to slaughter ships, about 22,673 of them, at least in the MSX version of the game. Indeed, this must be one of the bloodiest games I’ve ever played. And whether those are hostile aliens, pirates, other traders or even police ships, the game doesn’t care.

To play effectively, the ship needs upgrades, such as more powerful lasers, cargo bay extensions, anti-missile systems and laser cooling boosters. Most of these can be bought at stations, but some can only be obtained by performing missions. To make money, the player can trade, which means flying between two systems and buying merchandise for a lower price than selling them. Trading is easy. Agricultural economies export food and textiles, highly advanced worlds export computers. The more valuable the merchandise, the higher the margins. Moreover, beating pirate ships is awarded with bonus credits and points towards your elite ranking.

Universe

Elite’s universe is pretty straightforward. There are eight galaxies with 200 solar systems each. Every solar system consists of one star and one planet. Near the planet is always a space station. The station is where the player buys their merchandise (and missiles) and sells whatever’s in their cargo hold. Ships that are blown up often leave canisters behind for the player to pick up, so leaving a bit of room in a cargo hold is usually a good idea. To jump between systems, ships require a hyperdrive, which spends fuel. Fuel can be bought at stations, but a fuel scoop allows scooping it up for free by grazing a star while simultaneously making sure not to burn up. To jump from one galaxy to the next (or from the last one to the first one again), a special galactic hyperdrive is needed, which can only be used once and which is a bit harder to come by than other equipment.

The mechanism which allowed these limited platforms to consistently contain data about eight times 200 solar systems, each with a name, a position within its galaxy, an economy type, a tech level and other attributes, is called procedural generation. The game retains a fixed number called a seed, from which all other numbers are calculated using a simple formula. For example, a sentence, like the one in pink in the picture below, can be formed by having the resulting numbers select words like “cursed” and “lobstoids” from a list. The other attributes work the same way.

Planet data screen

Anarchies are replete with pirate activity, well worth the risk

Sidenote: In the lore of Elite:Dangerous, the original game is mentioned as being in that game’s past. I find that odd. The original Elite has galactic hyperdrives, all kinds of aliens roam about and trade with the player, and Earth is nowhere to be seen. Pilots in Elite:Dangerous cannot leave the Milky Way, the only aliens are the extinct Guardians and the Thargoids, and humankind is still firmly fixed on and around Earth. I’d say the original game is in the deep future, long after the events of Elite:Dangerous. Then again, the build dates of the ships, as mentioned in the manual, state that most of them are to be built in the early 3000s, which is three centuries before the Elite:Dangerous timeline starts. End of sidenote.

Hostiles

During their travels, the pilot will, of course, encounter all kinds of dangers, the most frequent being pirates. Depending on how safe the system is, these will come solo or in waves of quartets and quintets, which significantly slows the game down until one or more attackers are destroyed. Hyperjumping away could provide an escape, but there is a ten-second countdown. Since the ships in each pirate group always come similarly armed, it is always best to destroy the lightest ships first, also because the larger ones carry freight that can be more easily picked up when undisturbed by as-yet-unslain pirates. Unlike in other versions of Elite, most notably the Acorn Archimedes version, the player is the centre of the universe. Pirates, even those of different groups, leave each other alone while focussing solely on the player.

The other, rather grave, danger is formed by Thargoids. These aliens fly large hexagonal ships which are slow to turn but all but impervious to missiles and need a lot of firepower to beat. They also launch lots of Thargons, small heavily armed drones that keep attacking the player even when on the run. With some skill though, these Thargons can be picked up like cargo canisters and sold for a handsome price at the nearest station.

Thargoids sometimes enter regular space, but more often they are encountered in hyperspace. Right after a jump, the player is notified of a drive malfunction, after which the objects in the universe become blue. The player has entered witch space, and it appears the only objects there are Thargoids. The engine will repair itself, but that takes time, during which the player needs to survive the swarm of alien ships. There is, however, another object in hyperspace. Since the big Thargoid ships aren't very fast, it is possible to go and look for it.

The blue planet

The mysterious world in hyperspace

The game will let the player know when the ship’s hyperdrive is repaired, after which they can set a hyperspace destination within fuel range and jump to (relative) safety. Of course, the jump is preceded by the usual ten second count down.

Missions

Five times during the game, the MSX Elite pilot is asked to do a mission. They are always announced when the player docks at a station. The first time, it mentions a prototype of a naval ship has been stolen. The player has to find it and destroy it. First, they need to follow the directions given to them after landing at each station they visit. This goes on for a while, after this instruction will follow: “There is a nasty and hostile ship here.” After taking off, the player will be attacked by a Constrictor, the prototype of the ship in question. When successful, a bounty is paid.

The second mission will provide the player with a naval energy unit, which will greatly enhance their ship’s lasers. For this, they need to transport Thargoid battleship blueprints to another station. Despite reassurances to the contrary, the pilot will meet heavy Thargoid resistance. For the third mission, the player already needs to have a galactic hyperdrive. They are told the local sun will go supernova, so the station’s inhabitants have to be evacuated. Payment is 50 Kg worth of jewels. Like any mission, the player can, of course, decide not to bother, in which case an insult follows, like for this particular mission, the one cited above.

The fourth mission is more of a special event than a mission. After exiting of hyperspace, the pilot will be attacked by a ship identifying as a Cougar. The Cougar is equipped with a cloaking device that makes it invisible to both the player’s eyes and their radar. After destroying, pick up the container it leaves behind. It contains the cloaking device.

Two groups of pirates attacking

Two pirate groups of four each, rapidly depleting front shields and only three missiles left

The cloaking device is a bit odd. When switching it on, one would expect enemies to keep firing on the pilot’s last known location, at least until they stop hitting anything. Then, as soon as the player starts firing, they would again know the location of their target. Instead, when the cloaking device is on, all enemies instantly stop firing, even if the player fires at them. Using the cloaking device costs a lot of energy, which adds a limit to its usage.

Sidenote 2: cloaking devices are often misused in science fiction. When a ship is cloaked, it is invisible, which means it lets through all light from behind. This means that this light is not entering the cloaked ship, which means that cloaked ships must be blind. This would be a fantastic story element since it greatly disadvantages any cloaked ship, but it is always missed.

The fifth and last mission takes place when a system has been invaded by Thargoids. They’re using a space station as their base. The player has to fight their way through an entire Thargoid fleet and destroy the station. Payment is an ECM jammer, a device that stops enemy anti-missile systems from destroying their missiles. A very useful device that also works with Thargoids. When combined with a cloaking device, the ship’s energy reserves are used up rapidly.

Grind

When the missions are over, the player has a very nicely outfitted ship, and they need it because obtaining the rank of Elite is only for the very patient, especially in the MSX version. The player’s Elite rating depends on the points they get for each kill. On average, a kill in MSX Elite earns 74 points. The table below shows the number of points at which ranks are awarded. The figures for the other platforms, are significantly lower, but largely follow the ratios of MSX Elite.

RankScoreWhich isZX, BBC, C64, Apple II kills
Harmless0Start0
Mostly harmless2,00025 to 30 kills8
Poor4,0002 × Mostly harmless, ~55 kills16
Average8,192213, ~113 kills32
Above average16,3842 × Average, ~227 kills64
Competent32,7682 × Above Average, ~453 kills128
Dangerous131,0724 × Competent, ~1,814 kills512
Deadly655,36010 x 216, ~9,096 kills2,560
Elite1,638,4002.5 × Deadly, ~22,673 kills6,400

It appeared that each platform’s version was made by someone else, and that they all tried to improve on the original. Anyway, there is quite a bit of grind to this game. Trading is mostly interesting at the start of the game, but when the player has enough money to replace any destroyed equipment, bounty hunting is basically all that’s left. Especially after all missions are completed, apart from different enemy ships and the occasional mis-jump, there is no variation to the game any more. Of course, you can pick a fight with the vipers for a change, but it always takes both a lot of tenacity and a lot of time to slowly crawl towards the rank of Elite.

Promotion notice

Commander ACE is an ELITE pilot with a rather questionable legal status.

Concluding

I had a lot of fun playing this game. Despite the crude graphics, there is an atmosphere to this game that spoke to me as a kid, and it was the only game that felt like I was flying a spaceship. The game is difficult and slow at first, before a docking computer can be bought. Once the equipment is there, you still need to learn tactics to be able to beat a group of four or five heavily armed pirate ships. Despite the grind, I loved this game and still have fond memories of it.


Did De Villeneuve read Dune?

May 09, 2024

Perhaps inspired by De Villeneuve's newest attempt at making movies out of the Dune books, I recently started re-reading them and still think especially the first book to be one of the greatest science fiction books ever. I am not alone in this, the book has won multiple awards, such as But to understand them, there are a few key elements to its story, you need to keep in mind when re-telling it.

The Bene Gesserit, the ancient order of women, has, over the past the millennia, been secretly planting religions among backward people, throughout the universe, like the Fremen. They left one of their priests there to oversee and steer the development of the religion. The Fremen are very good at surviving with tiny amounts of water, but they are an isolated people. For a younger generation to develop sepsis of this religion makes little sense, and only serves to make Chani a more lovable character.

The Fremen have no concept of monogamy. Arranged marriages are as common among them as they are among the nobility. For example, when Paul and Jessica first joined Stilgar's tribe, Paul had to duel Jamis. After he killed him, Jamis' wife and kids became his. Considering customs like that, Chani should not have reacted with jealousy on Paul's proposal to marry Irulan. In fact, considering Paul's heritage, she should have expected it. For the film to portray her as rightly jealous either missed or ignored this altogether.

One primary story element is almost absent in the film. The film is long enough as it is, so perhaps that is why, but it will become a problem in the sequels. Paul has been trained by his mother in Bene Genesserit techniques. These, combined with his unique genes, give him the ability to see into the past as well as the future. In this future he sees, he will be causing a lot of violence and misery, and he is constantly trying to find ways of preventing that. At some point, his premonitions dry up as it were, and that is why, against the advice of everybody around him, he drinks the holy water, hoping it will bring back his premonitions. He barely survives it. In the film, everybody seems to suspect him to have a sip of it as soon as he sees it, without explaining why this is. Especially in the third book, these premonitions will become much more important, but I'm afraid, in the movies, they will come out of nowhere.

The reason the emperor lent the Harkonnnen his army to defeat the Atreides was that Leto Atreides had become so popular among the nobility, he had become a threat. The reason he did it secretly was that he expected the nobility to revolt against him if they found out he had used his powerful Sardaukar against one of them. For the emperor to tell Paul he killed his father for his weakness makes me think De Villeneuve simply didn't grasp this plot or he thought his audience wouldn't.

With my copy of the Dune book series, there were some interviews with Frank Herbert, which explain he wrote these books as a multi-layered story which flawed characters, each with their own motivation, about how power always corrupts and how important it is to handle limited resources, like water, responsibly. Both are themes that are currently rather important, but De Villeneuve ignored those, took the first book and made it into a simple hero falls in love and conquers the bad guys story with awesome visuals.


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