Home » The Madness of Chartrulean : Dune-Inspired Shakespeare in Space

The Madness of Chartrulean : Dune-Inspired Shakespeare in Space

This review will be broken into two separate posts. One for the show itself and the other for the Apollo app and its subscription called Apollo Plus. “The Madness of Chartrulean” is available on podcast platforms everywhere. With the second part of the 2021 “Dune” movie delayed due to the current strike in Hollywood, Chartrulean may scratch that itch. Realm distributes the show and it’s available ad-free using Realm’s paid subscription service. An alternative way to get ad-free listening is via the Apollo app and its plus subscription.

Apollo+ Basic Information

Like Realm+ and other premium podcast networks out there, you pay a certain amount every month or year(for Apollo it’s $9.99 per month) and you’ll get exclusive bonus content and/or no ads to interrupt the listening experience. The people behind Apollo give 70 percent of net value to creators who opt their show(s) into the service. Net value are payments from Apple and Google Plays app stores and after fees and taxes. That 70 percent breaks down further into 20 percent and 50 percent.

The 20 is based on how many minutes a creator contributes. The 50 is based on listens a podcast gets. More popular means more of the share they’ll get. Apollo+ creators are paid quarterly using the funds available after the two App Store fees. You can find more information plus my review of the service and my preferred listening method for this audio drama in the next couple of days. Now, onto the review.

The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis Chartrulean: Between Star Wars and Dune

There is a clear “Dune” influence on this story’s world. It feels like “Dune” fan fiction with the names adjusted a little or the same concept given a new name. Arcas is Arrakis, spice is called Azurea and the Kwisatz Haderach from “Dune” is the Etruvian in “The Madness of Chartrulean.” There is also a Star Wars vibe to the story. In particular the politics of the prequel trilogy with a dash of the “fantasy in space” aesthetic from the original trilogy.

Without these science fiction classic’s influence on the audio drama, the story demands a deep dive to simply to understand what’s happening. This may turn some people off. If you aren’t knee-deep in science fiction and fantasy worlds, this over eight hour first season probably isn’t for you. Being ankle-deep in the pool of sci-fi/fantasy fandoms might not be enough. Even with the similarities between it and “Dune” doing a lot of the heavy lifting.

Too Many Characters, Not Enough Plot

Part of the reason the story is hard to follow is because there are so many characters that we barely see or hear from, but that have a huge impact on the plot. Without a doubt I probably missed some scenes with these named and sparsely appearing characters. However, you really have to love a series if you want to go back and listen to it all over again. Especially when it’s 8 hours and 13 minutes of content.

To say a lot goes on, is an understatement. The shifting between characters and their locations give the listener whiplash. If you aren’t paying attention for even 30 seconds, you probably missed something and getting back into the flow of the episode becomes that much harder the longer your mind wanders. Even when your mind is fully committed to the story, the plot of Chartrulean has more in common with a series of vignettes and scenes than a story with an overarching plot. There is one, but not a lot of time is spent on it directly. This feels like the first part of a two-part story.

Chartrulean as Dune Space Messiah and Autistic Savant

Going out on a limb, but I’m positive Chartrulean is autistic. With the title character being a messiah for a group of marginalized people, adding the overused and harmful “savant” archetype found commonly in stories featuring autistic character(s). This could be my head canon, but I don’t think I’m alone in this regard.

The best way to describe Chartrulean is with the word Aspergers. Yes, I’m aware of its history with the Nazis in World War II. However, I can’t think of a better term to efficiently illustrate Chartrulean’s character than Asperger syndrome. Whether the creators purposefully meant to make him have Aspergers, Chartrulean does have a lot of traits that line up with the developmental disability now folded into the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis.

Hopefully their Kickstarter reaches its goal and we get a second season. A lot works in this story, but it needs some sort of closure. At the time of this post, there are less than 15 days left.

8/10 Stars