Hairy Ticks of Dune

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Search key: guiltcaster.

Extremely ironic, is it not, that a hack who obviously feels not even a smidgen of guilt over what he is doing to the Dune franchise would come up with a concept like guilt-casters?

Introduced for the first time in The Winds of Dune, this is probably one of the stupidest McDune additions yet. A guilt-caster is “a new weapon, a technique that combines both psychological and Jongleur training”, developed by the Bene Gesserit to punish those who disobey them.

Guilt-casters ... women able to manipulate thoughts and emotions to magnify a person’s own doubts and regrets and reflect them back like a lasbeam ricocheting off a mirror. Tessia had thought them only a frightening rumor leaked by the proctors in order to compel unruly acolytes.

The ability to manipulate thoughts and emotions? Wow, that sounds a lot like some sort of psychic ability, doesn’t it? Something like telepathy. In case you’re dubious, there’s this:

Guilt-casting is a psychic storm, but it can be weathered.

And this:

The old woman’s voice became more resonant, her eyes flared, and tendrils of psychic force seemed to ooze from her, insinuating themselves like wet tongues into Margot’s ears and around her chest. ... The guilt-caster bared her teeth and continued to concentrate, slamming wave after psychic wave against Margot’s mind, battering her crumbling defenses.

Complete and utter bullshit. Sure, Frank Herbert admitted telepathy into his Duniverse, but only in certain limited forms. It was by no means unknown to or deemed impossible by the aristocracy, for example:

“T-P?” the Emperor whispered. He snapped his attention back to Alia. “By the Great Mother!”
“You don’t understand. Majesty,” the old woman said. “Not telepathy. ...”

Examples of real telepathy in the Duniverse are the Sharing which Jessica experienced with Ramallo when she changed the Water of Life and became a Reverend Mother, and the Extremis Progressiva by which later Reverend Mothers Shared their Other Memories in times of danger to ensure their continuity for the Sisterhood.

The example of Alia projecting herself into Mohiam’s mind at the end of Dune is not an example of telepathy-at-a-distance that would make this silly idea of guilt-casting admissible; that incident seems rather to be more related to her ability to project a message across time, as she does with Paul after the Battle of Arrakeen. (Mohiam herself says that it is not telepathy, that she perceives Alia among the ancestral presences of her Other Memory.)

Kevin J. Anderson would know that if he really understood Dune and how Frank Herbert conceived of his fictional universe as working. All fictional universes are not created equal, and are not interchangeable. Dune is not Star Wars, The Force does not work in the Duniverse, and the Bene Gesserit are not Jedi. Anderson’s fucking guilt-casters have no place in the Duniverse. They’re just another McDune absurdity.