Leto II: Failed Tranhumanist
Leto II is one of the earliest transhumanist characters to be extensively detailed in fiction. It is useful to analyze the limitations of the character as depicted in regards to our own attempts to master our own vampiric nature and attempt to transcend it. For the purposes of this endeavour it is irrelevant whether Leto II's failure to master his condition originates in the author's limitations, the author's deliberate attempt to portray the character as such, or necessary traits to drive the plot. Leto II simply serves as a useful example of a being that has mentally and physically deviated far from the human norm yet remains psychologically an adolescent human male.
Leto II is absolute master of human space. He controls the spice melange and thus engages in hydraulic despotism on a near absolute manner. This power is further augmented by being worshiped as a god-king and having military and economic supremacy which is further buttressed by his presience. People and nations scheme against him, but as he is a nearly invulnerable immortal with absolute military, political, and economic dominance as well as reliable foresight, such plots are essentially toothless.
His stated goal is the survival of humanity and protecting it from domination of prescient tyrants, a goal that could have been accomplished before the God-Emperor of Dune begins. The required elements, breeding for anti-prescience genes, no-rooms, and no ships already exists. The social conditions, where much of humanity yearns to break away from the stifling enforced orthodoxy, also already exists. Leto II could pull the metaphorical trigger anytime he wants. That he does not suggests that he is not ready to give up power. It is the dream of a tyrant who wants to leave a beautiful legacy and be forgiven for the damage he has done. But Leto likes being a god-emperor and playing with the lives of people.
His continued manipulation of the Atreides members and the cultivation of the family bloodline along with his endless numbers of doomed Duncan Idaho's tell us this much as well as the endless games of intrigue with the Bene Gesserit and so forth which inevitably end with Leto winning and possibly some amusement. Leto likes playing god. These could be argued as being appropriate for a posthuman god-emperor and that is true but they also point to Leto's stated motives as being unreliable. Like a human, he is prone to justifying doing things he desires with rather elaborate arguments. And so we come to the Fish Speakers. His all female army is justified with an argument that male armies are intrinsictly predatory and rape prone while female ones are more inclined to matriarchal domination. A dubious assertion considering the hierarchical and theocratic nature of their authority, but it serves as a smoke screen. The voyeuristic possibilities open to prescient by surrounded by an army of women where homosexuality and sex with with the Idaho ghulas is tacitly encouraged do not need to elucidated. The book touches on them, nonetheless. Then we come to the Ixian ambasssador, the lovely Hwi Noree.
A perfect woman to be placed on a pedestal and worshipped by a moonstruck adolescent. She is intelligent, compassionate, naive, and insipid. She is what a teenage boy might call "good" and an immortal might call "boring". She takes Leto's heart. And then Leto dies. He dies in a dramatic fashion, giving a long speech about how he has assured the future of humanity. It is the ultimate teenage death expression: he gets to go out while making everyone who killed him appreciate how wonderful he really was. He dies vindicated.
In short, Leto II remains psychologically human and an adolescent. He clings to power and engages in self deception about why he does so. He surrounds himself with a harem and manipulates them to engage in activities that will grant him voyeuristic gratification, the only gratification his altered body can support. He pines for a pure innocent companion. He is the prescient god-emperor and an sexually frustrated adolescent who longs for a pure, beautiful girl to be his soulmate. He has utterly failed to cease to be a teenage boy and that eventually kills him.