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Knowing nothing about Brian Herbet, I've been of the disposition for a while that it was in poor taste for B. Herbert to take credit for much of his late father's legacy. I was advised, by those whom first directed me towards the series, to only read the original tetralogy, so I can only comment on the first four books.
Personally, I found that the first Dune book was interesting. I wouldn't necessarily describe it as heavy, but it was thorough and sometimes thought-provoking. Dune Messiah abandoned much of the political interest of the first book and seemed to be an exploration of the personal and relational development of Paul and Chani. That was a theme that was far too pronounced for the remainder of the books. God Emperor was an adequate conclusion but was not an adequate reparation for the time I'd invested into the series.
Call me cynical, but I assume that the decline in quality is Brian lacking his father's ability to tell a tale, yet continuing to capitalise on the notes he'd inherited anyway.
I feel that the story's discursiveness is because it's in the third person. In third person writing, the author generally assumes the role of a story-teller in its most distilled form — the author will detail a plot and the events surrounding that plot as comprehensively as possible. In my opinion, it's a clumsy and out-dated way to tell a story. When writing short stories, there's often a constraint on what, how, or how much you can write, as unsignedinteger notes. Therefore, for short stories particularly, the author should put consideration into leaving bits open to thought and discussion; otherwise a couple of sentences or a couple of pages are left as a largely forgettable experience. Consider the extremely short story (sometimes mis-attributed to Ernest Hemmingway): For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn. That's quite poignant and whilst some might argue that it leaves a lot to be desired; I feel it leaves a lot to be contemplated upon.
Above experimenting with writing about new emotions, political agendas, sentence structure, and so on, I'd recommend writing in new perspectives. Write stories in third-person, or first-person, or alternate between a whole cast of characters' experiences. You might even want to experiment with more contemporary developments in writing such as stream-of-consciousness or epistolary stories. One should do this so that the author's interaction with the characters is different and so that the reader's interaction with the characters is different. Someone reading a story that's a stream-of-consciousness is burdened, perhaps uneasily, by the fact that what they're reading is a total exposé of the absurd complexity of the human thought process and the banality of many everyday observations that enter our cognitive ambit. An author writing in the first-person for example, must uphold a certain standard of perceptiveness for how the character would act in a (their?) situation.
Just to exemplify this point of narrative person in relation to what you've written, you write: "“A car can’t travel faster than radio waves, can it?”" You've jumped into the first-person to intimately detail the thoughts of this boy; but at some point here I felt you'd become lost between wanting to describe the boy's thoughts in detail and wanting to take precedence as an omniscient, dictating writer of third-person. You describe the boy as smart, but that is not to say rational. At the time that he thinks this, he's driving to this girl's house to uncover what has happened for emotional catharsis. Constructing a thought is difficult in what are apparently harsh conditions for your protagonist, so how would he construct this thought? Well, what is a text? A text is a text. Whilst that may seem a redundant point to make, it's an axiomatic, safe, and easy conclusion. So when thinking under the pressure that I feel you're trying to convey, your character would be much, much more likely just to say 'text' (and by doing this, you'd have separated the boy from the author to a further extent).
Obviously this isn't a comprehensive assessment of what you've written, but I hope it's food for thought.
Here's another video of scenes from London, in full colour, from 1927. (In fact, I just looked up the cinematographer who took it and apparently this is his "The Open Road" movie, of which there are extended videos.)
Obviously Short's suicide was the result of more than one reason, and as the final paragraphs indicate it would be difficult to pin-point the problem solely as loneliness. I feel that the focus of this article is a call for more comprehensive counselling and medical care. That would be more than social interaction; it'd be social interaction with a trained individual within an apposite environment.
I am aware that Intel started a scheme in 2006 to provide Indian farmers in rural areas with "community PCs" and that developments were being made as lately as 2011 with the "Classmate PC". While this was aimed at supporting farmers in their agricultural endeavours (for example checking the weather or researching things), I have no doubt that it would allow rural Indians to connect with the rest of the world. Would something like this be feasible in the USA?
I am actually British, so perhaps I'm not qualified to argue this point. At least over here, the BBC's North American editor stated clearly that "The Republican leadership looks and feels trapped - they made demands that they knew wouldn't be met rather than be accused of weakness and betrayal by their own hardliners” and The Independent were reporting on discomfort within the Republican Party about what they are doing.
Are the two examples that Froomkin uses really representative of how the situation is being reported in America?
An informed electorate will not come about simply because of an objective and "fearless media". A higher availability of factual journalism would allow those who already have a political drive to come to conclusions more quickly and easily; but isn't it that group of people who have already discovered news sources of greater objectivity? Froomkin uses an excerpt from the Guardian to show how the event should have been reported. Even for those who do participate in America's democracy but do not have an overt interest in the political climate, The Guardian is not a particularly esoteric news outlet.
I think that a better stance to take would be to support the posterity in recognising the flaws in what they read. This seems like a more realistic goal.