God I love the calibre of some of my comments; Frank writes excellently even in a response!
I think the key difference between Dune and my work - and maybe even Tolkien - is that a lot of what they present seriously, I present with a tongue FIRMLY in my cheek. So much of A Decent Land is comedy, satire... even parody at times, and a very subtle and understated humour - I personally think - is meant to drive the work. When Herbert says "Spice Melange", I think he loves it. To me, the phrase is hilarious, and I play with similar ludicrous language throughout A Decent Land.
I apologise, I'm rambling now, but I've been given much to ponder in response to this comment, so let's move to point two.
A singular character? I'm still unsure how I feel about it, but a proper character and proper dialogue does appear right at the end of Chapter Four of the actual novel; Isla, who has a solid antagonistic back and forth with my as yet unnamed "Captain" character.
Besides Isla and the Captain, there are actually several individual characters presented within the narratives, albeit without any traditional dialogue. Frank's not wrong in his amazing insight about "one galaxy chomping character", but I'd like to list them (in order of appearance), more as an exercise in memory than anything else.
The First Officer
The Biologist Leader
The Maian Tiger (animals can be characters!)
Clerical Drone (the writer of the anthology)
The Princess of Crimson
The Scarlet Guard
The Consort of Crimson
The Mermaids (a race, but they're so important they've gotta count!)
Dukes of Qualat
Technician (the writer of Molecule)
Priest (the writer of Eye's Mantra)
The Great Lake Deity
The Whale King
So, in the end, quite a lot! But, they're only — as I say — “presented" to the reader; there aren't really any traditional scenes or conversations to be found anywhere, except within the main novel (a deliberate stylistic choice).
So, what the hell is going on?
If you've ever checked out my other in-progress novel - 100 Followers, which I started around the same time as A Decent Land - you'll know that traditional characters and dialogue are not alien to me, and I very much enjoy writing such things.
A Decent Land, however, has a different tone entirely. I came to it inspired by epic poetry; the likes of Homer's Odyssey. I wanted to write a huge, biblical poem that felt archaic in tone. There are reasons for that, which my fingers are too tired to type right now, but it's a very conscious choice, and something I wouldn't repeat in other works.
Truth is, though, I think I am more attracted to ideas than characters. My very first novella - ACME, currently available in full on Medium - is similarly dialogue free; but then I felt that suited the work. Check it out if you get the time; it has criminally low views!
Despite the appearance of dialogue at the end of Chapter Four, it is something I'd like to avoid, by and large. I can see it popping up from time to time for purposes of exposition more than anything, but what I'm trying to do with Decent Land is to create something of biblical heft, which tends to look at events and situations from a different scale than that of the interpersonal. I think - I THINK! - that that's my thinking (ha!), and I'm gonna run with the ball.
After this, though, I intend to take 100 Followers off hiatus and focus on character!