DuneDune by Frank Herbert
on 1965
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Pages: 604
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

This Hugo and Nebula Award winner is widely to be considered the most prescient SF novel ever. It tells the sweeping tale of a desert planet called Arrakis, the focus of an intricate power struggle in a byzantine interstellar empire. Arrakis is the sole source of Melange, the "spice of spices." Melange is necessary for interstellar travel and grants psychic powers and longevity, so whoever controls it wields great influence. The troubles begin when stewardship of Arrakis is transferred by the Emperor from the Harkonnen Noble House to House Atreides. The Harkonnens don't want to give up their privileges, however, and through sabotage and treachery they cast young Duke Paul Atreides out into the planet's harsh environment to die. There he falls in with the Fremen, a tribe of desert dwellers who become the basis of the army with which he will reclaim what's rightfully his. Paul Atreides, though, is far more than just a usurped duke. He might be the end product of a very long-term genetic experiment designed to breed a super human; he might be a messiah. His struggle is at the center of a nexus of powerful people and events, and the repercussions will be felt throughout the Imperium.

I first heard of Dune as a kid because a friend had comic books of the story that he showed me. All I remembered from it is that there were giant worms.

From Dune Quotes

Let’s just take a minute to appreciate the obsessive fandom that produces anatomical drawings of fictional worms.

When I heard that there was a Dune read a long going on I decided it would be a good time to go back and read a classic sci-fi book.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and the writing but there were a few things that bothered me.

1.  You know immediately who the bad guy is.  You are given access to the thoughts of all the characters so no one’s motives are a secret.  So even though “Who is the traitor?” is a major plot point, the reader knows from the very beginning.  There isn’t any suspense.  In case you are missing the obvious, each chapter starts with a passage from a book that was written about this period that gives even more facts before they happen.

2.  The characterization of women in the book is problematic.  There are very powerful women here who drive the movement of the story.  However, if you aren’t one of them, you are property who are given as a matter of course to whoever kills your previous man.  The author writes about them almost like they have to be there for breeding purposes and they do all the stuff in the background because someone has to.  This is definitely a male-centric novel which read a little strange to me because so much sci-fi that I read now is female-centric.

My favorite part of the book was the Freman.  They are the native race of the planet.  They are completely underestimated by the ruling class.  They have discovered ways to live and thrive in the desert that the other consider impossible.  They also have a dream of changing their world and are working steadily towards it with single-minded purpose as a society even though it is expected to take over 300 years to bear fruit.

This book is the first in the original author’s series of six and spawned a lot of other books in this universe also.  I might be interested in reading some of the newer ones to see if different authors address some of the issues I had, but I’m not sure if I’d be totally lost or not.


5 Replies to “Dune”

  1. Science fiction writers often have more insight than physicists. Frank Herbert had an IQ of 190. Albert Einstein only had an IQ of 160. I’ll take the view of science fiction writers, people like H. G. Wells, Frank Herbert and L. Ron Hubbard, over physicists, people like Einstein, Hawking and Michio Kaku, when it comes to understanding physics and metaphysics, every time.

  2. I heard it was a true story. Then I read it, all six books. I had the impression that the characters in it were myself and other people I know, in earlier lifetimes, thousands or millions of years ago. And the characters in the beginning of the story seemed to be reincarnated in the middle of the story and again at the end of the story, as the entire 6 book story, encompasses a few thousand years on a time stream. It seems apparent that some of us have come to this reality from the distant future part of the time stream, in the distant past.. It seems also that Frank Herbert was ghost writing Dune, for another science fiction writer. As consciousness can split and merge, it may even be that the two science fiction writers are part of the same consciousness, with a lot of similarities. Their science fiction writings may even correspond, but I won’t go into detail. Do your own research. I’ll point out though, that there is an obvious correlation between Duke Leto Atreides, at the beginning of the story and Miles Teg, the great Bashar, at the end of the story. Dune makes clear that they look exactly the same. One might deduce from that, who the science fiction writer who inspired someone to ghost write for him was. One can also easily deduce a correlation between Duke Leto’s son Paul Atreides at the beginning of Dune, with Mile Teg’s daughter, Darwi Odrade, at the end of Dune. Beyond that, figure it out for yourselves.

  3. Dune was one of the first “heavy” science fiction books I read. I thought that compared with other older science fiction novels, the role of women was fairly progressive. Many of the classics don’t even mention women.

  4. I’m glad you joined us and that you re-read the book. I actually love the story. It’s one of my all-time favorite books. But, I can see why certain things bother you. I noticed the characterization of women a little more this time around than I have other times. Some of it bugged me and some of it didn’t, probably because I just see at as part of their culture not that that excuses them or anything.

  5. I hear the newer ones aren’t that great, sadly. But hey! Thanks for joining in our read along! Glad we nudged you for a re-read (or was this a first time around for you?) Anyway. Yes, I agree with all your points. Totally. Come and chat with us tomorrow night on Twitter! We’ll be discussing part two! 9 pm MDT #DuneRAL 🙂

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