Life on RossakEdit
Norma Cenva was considered a failure by her mother, Zufa Cenva, because she was born a malformed dwarf. This was partially due to the strange chemicals on Rossak, the same reason why Sorceresses like her mother were so powerful.
Norma Cenva was almost pitied by her mother while the former lived on Rossak. However, her adoptive father (and future husband) Aurelius Venport helped her continue her fascination and meddling with higher-order mathematics arranging for her to become an assistant to Tio Holtzman.
Career with Tio HoltzmanEdit
Realizing her genius from a paper sent by Aurelius Venport, famous Poritrin scientist Tio Holtzman invited her to be his assistant in 203 BG. When Norma became an assistant to Savant Holtzman, she first developed the portable scrambler generator (which emitted a powerful blast of energy to scramble the gel circuitry of thinking machines), a concept developed from the scrambler web technology that Tio Holtzman had first designed and used. She thought of the portable scrambler generator invention as her contribution to the Butlerian Jihad war effort.
She cared little that Holtzman took credit for much of her work. Nevertheless, her innovations would prove indispensable to humanity in the war against the thinking machines known as the Butlerian Jihad.
Next, she used the Holtzman effect to invent the suspensor field. Coupled with the common glow strips of the time, this evolved into the glowglobe, the staple light source used throughout the Known Universe.
Later, as she stopped creating new inventions for Lord Niko Bludd to benefit from, Lord Bludd and Savant Tio Holtzman essentially disowned Norma. They did this in return for a portion of the glowglobe profits that Aurelius Venport procured by 'illegally' selling and marketing the glowglobe invention. This action had disregarded the contract that Norma had signed to become an assistant of the Savant, which stated that all technologies developed under the guidance of Tio Holtzman were owned by Lord Niko Bludd.
As an independent scientistEdit
Norma then continued her work on spacefolders which had prevented her from creating any more inventions under the service of Holtzman. She spent a great deal of her life conceiving, designing and testing the spacefolder idea.
Unfortunately, her first prototype was taken from her by Lord Niko Bludd, although Venport's co-founder of VenKee Enterprises, Tuk Keedair took the spacefolder with a ship-load of Poritrin slaves to Arrakis, where some of them evolved into the Fremen.
While on a spaceflight, the Titan Xerxes captured her and tortured her for hours while many neo-cymeks watched. The event triggered latent mental powers, and caused her soostone pendant to fuse with her. The ultimate result was that she gained amazing powers to control her molecular structure and utilize formidable new prescient abilities. With just a thought, she killed Xerxes and the neo-cymeks. With massive amounts of mental power at her fingertips, Norma found herself in connection with her maternal bloodline leading off into the far distant past. Using their forms as a template, she then transformed her body from an unappealing dwarf-like being into a woman of great elegance and beauty.
Reunion with Zufa CenvaEdit
Norma then went to the planet known as Kolhar where she summoned her mother, the supreme sorceress of the Jihad, Zufa Cenva. Her mother realized she had made a mistake in abandoning her child before and redoubled her efforts to help Norma. Aurelius Venport was also invited and together the three set about transforming Kolhar into the first Junction, a massive construction yard to build ships with Norma's new Holtzman engines. It was during this time that Aurelius and Norma finally consummated their love. The pair eventually produced four children, of which only Adrien had his father's business acumen.
The Space Travel ProblemEdit
After many years, Norma still couldn't find a way to fold space safely. One out of every ten flights was lost due to this reason. Because a pilot had no way of knowing exactly where a space folding ship was likely to appear, ships often appeared in the middle of suns to burn or crashing into planets without enough time for a pilot to react. In the years between, her husband had died and Adrien had taken over. The first ships used complicated computers with lightning fast reflexes, but when the Jihad discovered this they insisted on their complete destruction. Norma subsequently devoted all her efforts into finding a solution and consumed ever increasing amounts of melange that gave her prescience and helped her think and concentrate better.
During the final years of the Jihad, Norma noticed slight deformations on her perfect body, like pinkish patches of skin, which she then would heal with a mind gesture. They however persisted until she finally decided to have a medical check, to learn they were allergic reactions to melange overconsumption. Norma however was very disappointed about the starship losses of the Great Purge: a percentage of whole ships would simply perish after each spacefolding jump, and she could not stop seeking for an answer.
Against the doctor's suggestion, she decided to give an answer to the navigational problem once and for all. She filled her room with extravagant portions of melange in gas form.
While consuming melange, she had an epiphany. Her unique talents, combined with the power of the spice melange, helped her realize the potential for carefully screened and trained humans to fold space safely. When the experience finished, she saw that her body was tragically deformed, resembling her original dwarfish shape, only with an even larger head. For some reason she decided not to revert to her previous form, considering it now an unnecessary expenditure of energy. The whole physical journey to beauty seemed shallow to her, infinitely insignificant.
She realized that for one to obtain such levels of prescience would need full spice immersion, total exposure and complete dependence. Her crews constructed an airtight clearplaz chamber where she would breathe gas form melange, without food and water.
Her discovery and adoption of such a practice caused not only her own irrevocable transformation into the first navigator, but also laid down the foundations of what would become the Spacing Guild. Eventually, she learned to fold space with her mind alone, without the use of a Holtzman generator, which she demonstrated by transporting her clearplaz chamber from Kolhar to Emperor Salvador Corrino's dining room on Salusa Secundus. This ability appears to be the result of a union of her psychic abilities as a Sorceress of Rossak and her prescient abilities as a Navigator.
Existence after Creation of Spacing GuildEdit
While remaining sealed in her spice chamber, her body continued to transform, even to the extent that her body no longer existed and she remained nothing less than a disembodied consciousness in a clearplaz globe. This consciousness came to be known as the Oracle of Infinity.
As the Oracle, Cenva took on the role of the protector of the Spacing Guild, especially the Navigators. During the time of the Corrino Empire, Navigators were seen bringing their Clearplaz chambers around a monument on the planet Junction complex dedicated to her.
As the Oracle of TimeEdit
Searching for the Ultimate Kwisatz HaderachEdit
Thousands of years later, as the threat of the Thinking Machines arose again during the time of Kralizec, Norma came to be known amongst the Guild as the Oracle of Time. The Oracle/Cenva again tried to protect humanity against Omnius and the Machines. Through prescience, she realized that the super-human Kwisatz Haderach was on the No-ship, the Ithaca. She helped the ship, piloted by the final ghola of Duncan Idaho, escape from an alternate universe. Idaho had inadvertently stranded the vessel, when he had folded space blindly to escape from the Outside Enemy. She then lost track of the Ithaca, as Idaho sent the ship into fold-space again, without warning or charting course, as he did not know that the Oracle was trying to help the Ithaca's plight.
Three years after that, Navigator Edrik of the Guild, was called upon by the Oracle to come to an out-in-space meeting that she had arranged. He and the other Steersman asked her advice on the Spice shortage, brought on by the monopoly of melange by the combined Bene Gesserit/Honored Matres group, the New Sisterhood. The Oracle/Norma stated to Edrik that although the Spice shortage was a legitimate concern, that finding the new and Ultimate Kwisatz Haderach before the beginning of Kralizec, the great battle at the end of the age, was her paramount concern. She then left the meeting abruptly.
Twenty years later, as the Kralizec was beginning, under the nefarious influence of secretly machine-led Enhanced Face Dancers, the Guild fractured as the Administrator branch, decided to kill and eliminate all Navigators, and replace them with mathematical compilers. Simultaneously, the New Sisterhood rallied humanity to fight the vast armada fleet of Thinking Machines that Omnius had unleashed on humanity.
The Oracle then called all Navigators through prescience to another meeting deep in known space. She announced that the Ithaca had been captured by the Thinking Machines, and that she would be immediately folding space to there. She ordered the Navigators and their fleet to the Machine/Human battlefront line over Chapterhouse, and they engaged the first machine wave of ships destroying all of them
The End on SynchronyEdit
The Oracle then ordered the Navigators to bring their Heighliners to the skies of Synchrony, as a show of force to the pivotal beings gathered in Cathedral, the ruling chamber of Omnius and Erasmus. As the events of Kralizec unfolded on Synchrony, the Oracle/Cenva appeared in Cathedral after the duel of Paul Atreides and Paolo. As Paul healed himself, and Paolo found himself in an irreversible trance-coma, Cenva confirmed Paul's death-experience prescient announcement that Duncan Idaho was indeed the Ultimate Kwisatz Haderach.
Then, as Omnius gloated that all efforts to stop him were irrelevant, as humanity would soon be dead as another fleet was approaching Chapterhouse, the Oracle decided to confront Omnius once and for all. The Oracle, through great power, banished all aspects of Omnius to the alternate universe, traveling with him, ridding humanity of the Thinking Machine ruler once and for all.
Other Inventions Edit
Other inventions from Norma Cenva include glowglobes and suspensors. Suspensors were later incorporated into many staples of civilized life, including suspensor platforms, suspensor trucks, suspensor chairs. The most notable use of this field is the suspensor belt worn by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen of House Harkonnen.
Behind the ScenesEdit
- Frank Herbert mentioned Norma only once in his original books - in God Emperor of Dune, Leto briefly notes that it was she who designed the first Guild ship, rather than her more famous lover, Aurelius Venport. However, her role in the Legends of Dune prequels and later in the Sequels of Dune is increased to the point where she is one of the most pivotal characters in Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's Expanded Dune universe.
- Her entry in the Dune Encyclopedia gives her a different name - Norma Cevna, the reasons for this are unknown. However Cevna's story has many parallels with the one eventually told in Expanded Dune.