ISBN: 1402523807
ISBN 13: 9781402523809
By: Frank Herbert George Guidall

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About this book

Set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar empire where planetary dynasties are controlled by noble houses that owe an allegiance to the imperial House Corrino, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides (the heir apparent to Duke Leto Atreides & heir of House Atreides) as he & his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the "spice" melange, the most important & valuable substance in the cosmos. The story explores the complex, multilayered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology & human emotion, as the forces of the empire confront each other for control of Arrakis. Published in 1965, it won the Hugo Award in 1966 & the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. Dune is frequently cited as the world's best-selling sf novel.

Reader's Thoughts

Keith Mukai

I guess I'm one of the few that bridge the gap between the Pride and Prejudice camp and the Dune camp. I loved both.Dune isn't a light, enjoyable read. At times it reads more like excerpts from geology, ecology, zoology, sociology, pscyhology, and political textbooks. The characters are more like mega-archetypes than real human beings.The appeal of Dune is peculiar. In order to enjoy Dune you have to enjoy complexity. All authors create little worlds in their stories but Herbert created a world.He doesn't just say that Arrakis is a desert planet, he engrosses himself and the reader into the geology.He puts people on the planet, governments, conflicting cultures, conflicting religions, conflicting ways of life that are thought out to the Nth level above and beyond anything else I've ever read. You could write a sociology or politics dissertation on the societal relations Herbert conceived for Dune.Now is complexity itself a thing to be admired in a work of fiction? Generally no, but Dune is so immense and so detailed that it creates and inhabits a category of its own. The very fact that it often reads more like a National Geographic article than a sci-fi novel speaks to its peculiar charm.Admittedly, this will not appeal to everyone. In fact, odds are that it will appeal to hardly anyone. But limited appeal should in no way factor into a work's quality. Compare the Academy Award-winning films against the yearly box office numbers if you don't agree. I'm sure Armaggeddon outgrossed Monster's Ball.And amidst all this complexity lies a kind of new myth that blends mysticism, religion, and crass real-world politics. It's a hybrid; it's not The Odyssey and it's certainly not Star Wars but I do find great appeal in its particular take on Campbell's hero's journey. And the fact that it plumbs the intricacies of Muslim/Arab/desert culture adds another layer of exotic flair to the work.As if all that wasn't ambitious enough, it even articulates a fascinatingly dark but pragmatic destiny for humanity as a whole.And all of these incredibly ambitious elements are all tightly woven together. Take out one element and the story loses its cohesion. Despite all the ridiculous amounts of detail there is nothing extraneous in this novel.Dune is a remarkable, magnificent accomplishment. But it's okay if it's not to your taste.

colleen the contrarian ± (... never stop fighting) ±

3 1/2 This is a hard book for me to rate. Before I read it, I'd seen the movie multiple times, and the mini-series - both the Dune one and the Children of Dune one. I'd also been told all the differences between the books and both of these things from my insane boyfriend who's read it 27 times to date.That said - it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Not that I didn't enkoy the movie, the mini-series, or the lectures - but because I was warned it was rather dry reading and might not be quite up my alley.It sort of was and wasn't.On one hand, I found it interesting. I enjoyed, on an intellectual level, anyway, the outlining and commentary on religion and politics. My favorite parts about the religious stuff is both the way that it can be used to control people, and also the way that people are lost to their own legends. I'm pretty certain that most of the people and ideas and whatnots that modern religions are based on would be appalled at what's become of them - the way things have altered, been forgotten, or changed - either out of zealotry, ignorance, or tyranny.But, for all that, these weren't ground-breaking thoughts to me. Perhaps if I read this book when I was younger and less cynical, I'd be more profoundly affected by the truisms therein.As an intellectual exercise, it was one of the better ones.As a story though?I never really emotionaly connected with it. I hated Jessica. I liked her at first, but as the story progressed I just found myself more and more irritated by her, and sort of wished she was just shut up. I couldn't get a grasp on Paul as a person. Gurney was ok, but then disappears for most of the book. I also never connected with Stilgar as a person. The characters were all sort of thin, and there more for their role in the plot than as fleshed out people.I liked Channi, though. I've always liked Channi, in all the various versions of the story I've seen/read. And Alia, though I would've liked to have seen more of her.I found the Fremen interesting. Their mix on enlightenment and barbarism. The way women can be revered in one sense, and treated like chattle in another. The always odd to me notion of a culture in which death comes easy, life is cheap - and yet so much can hang on the balance of it at the same time.But, again, I found it interesting, but not emotionally engaging.As for the writing - it was oddly jumpy in places. I don't mean the shifts of thought-perspective. I quite liked that third person omniscience, actually, as we went from one persons thought to another's pretty seamlessly.But within scenes, we would jump to a different scene, and there would be no paragraph break or anything to let you know it's shifted. It was very jarring. The action sequences were sometimes done really well, but other times they were slapdash and hard to follow.And he tended to be repetitive, both in thought-patterns and descriptions. Such as the description of Gurney's "inkvine scar". Did this phrase really need to be repeated every time the scar is referenced? That's just the example that stood out the most, but it was a problem through the whole book, really.Anyway - I'm glad I read it, and I didn't hate it, as I feared I would, but, for me, for a book to get 4 or 5 stars I have to connect with it not just intellectually, but also emotionally, and this just never got there. But it was interesting, and it was worth the read.


People often forget that this series is what innovated our modern concept of science fiction (up until Neuromancer and The Martix, at least). Dune took the Space Opera and asked if it might be more than spandex, dildo-shaped rockets, and scantily-clad green women. Herbert created a vast and complex system of ancient spatial politics and peoples, then set them at one another's throats over land, money, and drugs.Dune is often said to relate to Sci Fi in the same way that Tolkien relates to Fantasy. I'd say that, as far as paradigm shift, this is widely true. Both entered genres generally filled with the odd, childish, and ridiculous and injected a literary sensibility which affected all subsequent authors.Few will challenge the importance of Star Wars' effect on film and storytelling in general, but without Dune, there would be no Star Wars. Princess Alia, the desert planet, the Spice, the Bene Gesserit, and Leto II all have direct descendants in the movies. It is unfortunate that Lucas seems to have forgotten in these later years that his best genius was pilfered from Herbert, Campbell, and Kurosawa.Though I have heard that the later books do not capture the same eclectic energy as the first, Dune itself is simply one of the most original and unusual pieces of Sci Fi ever written. Read it, Starship Troopers, Ringworld, Neuromancer, and Snowcrash and you'll know everything you need to about Sci Fi: that you want more.


Does the world need another Dune review? I very much doubt it needs mine but that never stopped me before, saturation be damned!Dune in and of itself, in isolation from the rest of the numerous other Dune books, is by general consensus the greatest sci-fi novel of all time. You may not agree, and one book can not please everybody but statistically Dune comes closest to achieving just this. Witness how often you see it at or near the top of all-time best sf books lists.I never read Dune with the intent to reviewing it before, it makes for a more attentive and actually more enjoyable reading experience. When I first read it in my early teens I did not really appreciate it, I thought it was good but overrated. There are just too much depth for my young mind to handle. I got the gist of the story just fine but the richness of the novel completely escaped me.What makes Dune superior to most sf books is the quality of the world building. Frank Herbert went into painstaking details of Arrakis without ever bogging down the story. During the main body of the novel (excluding the appendices) he did not once resort to making info dumps. How many modern day sf authors can do that? Still, world building alone can not possibly account for the legendary status of the book. Herbert places equal emphasis on the characterization, plot and prose. The book is full of memorable characters from the badass Lady Jessica, to Paul Atreides who starts off as a fairly generic Luke Skywalkerish “chosen one” kid to a messianic figure always ready with a sage comment for every occasion. The villains are even more colorful, especially the super-sized Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, so fat he needs anti gravity devices to help support his girth (cue worthless yo papa so fat he needs suspensors jokes). And his psychotic nephew Feyd-Rautha who is a ruthless natural born killer and seems kind of gay for some reason. When I read it as a young lad the book seemed very long, but by today’s gigantic epic sf/f books standard Dune’s 896 pages length does not seems like much of a challenge if you take into account almost 100 pages of appendices and glossary. It is a highly readable and accessible book that transports the reader to a very vividly realized place. If you are looking for a bit of escapism you can not beat reading Dune for the first time.That's enough review I think, I just want to make a few random observations for people who are familiar with this book (more than half the people who read this review imagine):- Most memorable scene for me is the “Gom Jabbar” test where Paul Atreides has his humanity tested by the Reverend Mother. What is yours?- I love the little quotes from all those Muad'Dib books by the Princess Irulan. How many are there? Is there a “Muad'Dib’s Cookery Without Water” or perhaps a Muad'Dib popup book for the kids?- The stillsuits are great, I want one!- What is with all the “ah-h-h” business most (lesser) writers make do with an "ah!" or an "aha!". Are the characters having orgasms?- Don’t skip the appendices, they are well worth reading.- Last but not least, do check out Dune - Book Summary & Analysis by Thug Notes on Youtube, preferably after you have finished Dune; it's funny, insightful and informative. Come to think of it, if you are having any difficulty getting through Dune you may want to watch this.


Like most of my five star books, I’ve read Dune multiple times. In fact, I’d say that what makes a book more than just enjoyable and instead truly amazing is that you want to read it more than once and are rewarded for doing so. I’ve probably read Dune six times, and I’ve never gotten tired of it but my understanding of the work has increased over time.To begin with, the first time I read Dune, I got about three pages into it, realized I didn’t understand a thing and that I was hopelessly confused. I had to go back and reread what I had read, and then go back again and reread the whole chapter. I would excuse myself by saying that I was 10, but I’m sure I’m not the only one that has had that experience. Don’t be dismayed if it happens to you - whether 10, 18, or 45. If you are confused at first, consider that Paul is also confused and finds so much that happens strange and new. Understanding will come in its proper time.At one time at least, there was a fairly famous website (at least among geeks) that humorously summarized books in thirty words or less. Maybe it still exists, but its name escapes me. The summary provided for Dune read something like this, “I’m Frank Herbert and I’m a lot smarter than you are.” When I was younger, this would have seemed a fair appraisal of the work. One of the most central aspects of ‘Dune’ is Herbert manages to write convincingly about people whose intelligence is supposed to vastly exceed that of the reader. More than anything, to create a believable Messianic story, the writer has to create a Messiah possessing believable Messianic wisdom and insight, and Herbert succeeds at this invention probably better than any other writer. We come to believe that the protagonists do have deep and profound insight into the question of ‘Life, the Universe, and Everything’ so that we do not immediately feel cheated and we are able to believe in the characters – even someone like Maud’Dib. As I’ve gotten older, and hopefully wiser, I’ve come to see that Herbert is not in fact possessed of superhuman intelligence, but that he creates the illusion of superhuman intelligence by a variety of clever devices. The appearance of a superhuman intelligence and wisdom is really a sham and the pool is really pretty shallow, but even this revelation does not reduce the esteem in which I hold the work. It’s not Herbert’s real job to be a prophet: he’s an artist. Herbert succeeds brilliantly in what he should be judged on – the ability to paint the illusion deftly and convincingly. If we acquire the sophistication to see through it, it shouldn’t reduce our appreciation of the artistic mastery used in creating it. I think now I would amend the summary of the work to be, “I’m Frank Herbert, and I’m a lot better writer than you are.”If all that could be said in Dune’s favor was that it had one of the most convincing invented prophets in literature, it would still be a worthwhile work. But Dune has abundant pleasures beyond the richly realized illusion of philosophical depth and even the deftly realized setting. Chief among these for me is the truly deep and intricate relationships Paul has with the other characters. There is a real depth of feeling here, and I love the way each of the complicated nuanced relationships is portrayed as we are introduced to the cast of Paul’s complicated life. Each character feels a deep mixture of feelings for Paul who is boy, man, friend, soldier, sovereign, and Messiah and much else. There is tenderness to this work. We sense that complexity and tenderness right from the start, when his mother allows him to be tortured and to face murder, and then immediately thereafter experiences profound hope and joy: “My son lives.” We feel Paul’s boyish love for his friends and companions, who are also his father’s henchmen and his teachers and who he is in turn their future Lord. We feel the more mature manly love that these companions have for their young charge and future ruler. Even Yueh loves the boy he must destroy. We feel the boyish admiration Paul has for his father as he strains to be worthy of him and to make his father proud, and we feel the returned pride and satisfaction that his father feels. We feel the aching love of a boy for this Mother when has already lost everything else when Jessica is buried in sand, and we feel her returned love when she says, “I knew you would find me.”And though there love is only briefly on stage, still I find the love between Paul and Chani among the sweetest and most charming in literature. Who cannot thrill when scarcely knowing each other, but seeing their lives together stretching out before them both good and terrible, the young becoming but not yet lovers promise with tender vows nonetheless to be forever each others comfort and joy and they feel their hitherto unseen future becoming a real solid now. Isn’t that how it is in some way for all of us when we meet the one who will be the one and we suddenly realize we want to and we will spend the rest of our lives together regardless of what will happen? And how often have we felt the total unabashed joy as Paul does when we know our lover is now near?“That could only mean Chani was near by—Chani, his soul, Chani his sihaya, sweet as the desert spring, Chani up from the palmaries of the deep south.”All that and ‘Dune’ is a wonderful exciting action adventure story filled with thrills and chases, fights and battles, and supersized edge of our imagination wonders. Worms.It’s no wonder that this is one of the best beloved books of all time. If you haven’t read it, you should. If you have read it, read it again.


Dune is an unusually savage, epic, ethereal space opera that subverts the common ideals of science fiction by transcending social and technological development, and focuses on the metaphysical aspects of human development. It's a fantastic work of fiction; complex in its setup and traditional in its delivery. It's loaded with societal intrigue, bizarre science-fiction, spacial politics, villainous aristocrats and elaborate interplanetary cultures.Every strange and wonderful dynamic in this novel works, be it the odd pairing of a highly technologically advanced society following an ancient feudal structure, to people, primitive by today's standards, living among beings so self-aware, their consciousness have surpassed mentality and enhanced their physical form. This novel doesn't consist of a basic structure; I mean, anyone could extrapolate elements of a medieval feudal system and throw in some spaceships, laser guns and superhumans. But that's not Dune. Herbert goes into profuse detail, creating ideas based on a dense speculation so precise, it's almost mathematical. He ingratiates every aspect of his world so intrinsically, that nothing feels out of place.Even with such an intelligently structured world gripped firmly in his hands, Frank Herbert's delivers with an almost childlike energy to his story. It's vicious, convoluted and fascinating. Each character, though memorable and important to the story, feel authentic. Yes, they contribute to the story, but they aren't just cogs whose goals are merely to assist the protagonist. They are individuals, with lives that transcend the plot of the story and therefore, play a far more profound part in the novel's entire design. At times, you'll really notice the grandeur of this novel. It plays with familiar themes, but there's a hard-hitting edge to them. He issues all the attributing factors that make up an empire and intensifies them with epic science fiction and supernal metaphysics. That brings me to the subject of expanded human conciousness, a phenomena that interlocks with many of the characters. I've seen plenty of science ficiton play with the idea of superhuman ilks; most notably in space operas. But they mostly consist of characters who fit a comic book type description and don't go any further than that.Dune is so compelling because these superhuman oddities deconstruct the psychology of the character. Because of this, they're actually interesting. Sure, they hold a power that supersedes any great force in the universe, but Herbert is quick to remind us they are still human. And this goes for every character, no matter their physical anomalies. And as bizarre and fantastical as it may initially appear, his work still remains a strong, serious subject of science fiction. His science fiction is built on the physical and the metaphysical, and the complex design of pseudo-divinity.As I mentioned, the characterization is nearly perfect. Sure, the work is more traditional, it has villains hungry for power and reluctant heroes who must embrace their fate, but it's compelling. I think the romance in this novel was handled incredibly well. It didn't start with mere physical attraction and it isn't established with some cheesy back story. It's warm, sweet and realistic. It builds gradually, and doesn't distract the story but improves it.Herbert is an (if not 'the') instigator of heavily modifed drugs playing a part in a relatively large work of science fiction. But he's most reknown for revolutionizing space operas. Neither the men or women were scantily clad, his vision of romanticism wasn't cheesy or falsified, and all his characters were three-dimensional and vivid without having to be cartoonish. Granted, the traditional villains may come off as so. But thinking about it, villains like Feyd Rautha and Baron Harkonnen seem to be Dune's answer to terrifying historical figures like Nero or Robespierre.Frank Herbert's Dune is bold and energetic. His science fiction is smart, strange and intriguing; it never substitutes substance for style and better yet, never emphasizes his concept over story or character. For all it's intelligent, complex, and metaphysical prowess, Dune is just a fantastic story. Being one of few that I had both the time and pleasure to read more than once. There are so many ideas here that are just unforgettable, and it's easy to see why it's considered so revolutionary.


** spoiler alert ** Terrible. To write a book, you should be able to do at least one of the following:1) Develop characters2) Tell an interesting story3) Write dialogue that vaguely resembles what someone might say4) Write sentences that might be interesting to a readerInstead, we are left with:1) One dimensional characters2) Plot summary: Talking, massacre, talking, religious ceremony, talking, man rides a worm, talking, massacre, talking, knife fight. Ta-da!3) Melodrama!4) Cliches!This might have made a passable movie, or video game, or commercial, or perhaps theme for children's lunchboxes. But a book is based on writing! You have to be a writer to write a book. I can't stress this enough. It's like saying that the violinist was out of tune, had no bow control or rhythm, couldn't remember the music, and the interpretation was hackneyed, but at least his pants were nice. The writing was egregious. All the "exciting action" was confusing, from sandworm riding to knife fights. Third person omnipotent, a shortcut to drama if I've ever seen it, was poorly executed. And the melodrama! Sweet Christ of Mercy no one ever said anything funny or guarded or nuanced or tender. Characters emotions were delivered as if Keanu Reeves was playing each part. Oh the humanity! The only thing that propelled me to finish the blasted thing was my hate for it.

Jason Pettus

Like many, my relationship with this science-fiction classic has changed as my life has progressed: too dense for me when first attempted as a young teen, by the time I was an undergraduate it was one of my all-time favorite novels; but then while reading it again near the age of 40, found a lot more problems with it than I had before, and more parts that made me roll my eyes and quietly laugh. Maybe this is why so many people over history have enjoyed the first novel but never read any of the rest of the saga? It's definitely a great book, for those who have never read it before: a combination of elaborate cultural backstory (ala JRR Tolkien), the far-flung future of humanity (ala Asimov's Foundation series), and a grand Eastern-influenced vision that evokes "Lawrence of Arabia," the original novel combines a Shakespearean tale of family intrigue with the trippy '60s elements of alternate realities and messiah-figure destiny. But yeah, let's face it; the older you are, the faster you'll be skipping over the pages upon pages of ponderous purple prose on display here, muttering to yourself the whole time, "Okay, okay, I get it, Paul senses something wrong. Now what happens next?"


How I Read Dune and Was Unenthused; or, George R.R. Martin Ruins EverythingIf I had read this as a teenager or as a young collegiate man, I probably would have given this book five stars. It's got a rich fictional world that blends sci-fi and fantasy elements. It's got an action-packed(ish) plot, but it also has a lot to say about politics, religion, ecology, et cetera. It's what I would have liked then.But I didn't read it then; I read it now, in 2013 as a still fairly young, but starting to feel my age as I near the almost-thirtieth year, especially when I look in the mirror at my hair (which keeps marching further up my scalp to expose my pale dome) and my stomach (which is currently imitating the undulating quality of a bowl full of jelly). I read it as an adult who has read George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, the current pinnacle of fantasy writing.Dune and A Song of Ice and Fire have many similarities and it was impossible for me not to compare the two. Each feature ruling families who find themselves in the middle of a mess of political intrigue, assassination, sex, poison, et cetera. Herbert wrote giant sand worms; Martin wrote dragons. They both wrote characters with telepathic powers. They both wrote complicated religions and dynasties with their respective hundreds of years of history and mythology. They both even share the willingness to kill of important characters for seemingly no reason.The thing is (and I must declare that this is simply my humble opinion), Martin does everything better than Herbert. Martin brings characters to life and makes you love them or loathe them. Herbert didn't do that for me at all. All of the characters in Dune felt either like robots or like the dullards you find in the cubicle next to you who think it's still hilarious to greet you with a "wasssssss uuuppppp". Dune has a lot of head, but no heart. And while there's a lot in the plot, it all feels very plodding. A plodding plot that ends with a whimper, not a bang.But I still gave it three stars. So it's not terrible. I just don't understand the hype.


There's a characteristically witty essay by Borges about a man who rewrites Don Quixote, many centuries after Cervantes. He publishes a novel with the same title, containing the same words in the same order. But, as Borges shows you, the different cultural context means it's a completely new book! What was once trite and commonplace is now daring and new, and vice versa. It just happens to look like Cervantes's masterpiece.Similarly, imagine the man who was brave or stupid enough to rewrite Dune in the early 21st century. Like many people who grew up in the 60s and 70s, I read the book in my early teens. What an amazing story! Those kick-ass Fremen! All those cool, weird-sounding names and expressions they use! (They even have a useful glossary in the back). The disgusting, corrupt, slimy Harkonnens - don't you just love to hate them! When former-aristo-turned-desert-guerilla-fighter Paul Muad'Dib rides in on a sandworm at the end to fight the evil Baron and his vicious, cruel nephew, of course you're cheering for him. Who the hell wouldn't be?So that was the Dune we know and love, but the man who rewrote it now would get a rather different reception. Oh my God! These Fremen, who obviously speak Arabic, live on a desert planet which supplies the Universe with melange, a commodity essential to the Galactic economy, and in particular to transport. Not a very subtle way to say "oil"! They are tough, uncompromising fighters, who are quite happy to use suicide bombing as a tactic. They're led by a charismatic former rich kid (OK, we get who you mean), who inspires them to rise up against the corrupt, degenerate... um, does he mean Westerners? Or only the US? And who is Baron Harkonnen intended to be? I'm racking my brains... Dubya doesn't quite seem to fit, but surely he means someone? Unless, of course, he's just a generic stereotype who stands for the immoral, sexually obsessed West. This is frightening. What did we do to make Frank al-Herbert hate us so much? You'd have people, not even necessarily right-wingers, appearing on TV to say that the book was dangerous, and should be banned: at the very least, it incites racial hatred, and openly encourages terrorism. But translations would sell brilliantly in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and a bad movie version would soon be made in Turkey.I honestly don't think Herbert meant any of that; but today, it's almost impossible not to wonder. If anyone reading this review is planning to rewrite The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, you'd better make sure you get your timing right. Who knows how it will be interpreted five years from now?This review is in my book If Research Were Romance and Other Implausible Conjectures

John Wiswell

No one should argue the importance Dune. It laid the foundations for a great deal of the themes and constructs in modern science fiction. Frank Herbert was as important to the genre as Isaac Asimov and Arthur Clarke. Unfortunately, just like them, he's quite dated, and his books can be a labor to read. One thing he maintained from old science fiction was prim and scientific dialogue that no one would ever actually speak. I've known many scientists, and they don't talk like this. You're not going to convince me a child does.The stuffy dialogue is inserted into even stuffier narrative, until it feels like nothing is organic about Herbert's prose. This is a terrible tragedy when you've got a world that he put so much effort into building - and it is an amazing feat of world-building, technically interplanetary building. But unlike J.R.R. Tolkien, who he is so frequently compared to, Herbert didn't make sure to include a great story in his world. Instead he included a story that frequently illustrated how clunky an artificial world can be, even if it's lovingly crafted. I struggled to attach or find interest in anyone, yet they're more archetypes than human beings, whose logic races past modern skepticism and whose dialogue is cloyingly artificial, the way people cared for the Hobbits, Dwarves and Rangers. In his world-building, Tolkien at least saved himself from being dated by antedating himself, and even with his illuminated prose, wrought more characteristics in just one protagonist than all of Dune's cast. Even the political intrigue Herbert tries to fall back on was overdone in the Spy genre decades before he started this book. All fans of the "Genre" genres should appreciate Herbert's massive contributions, but they shouldn't pretend to enjoy the books if they don't, and they should be wary of certain pitfalls typical of science fiction that survived into his landmark work.


I've loved science fiction my whole life, but I was finally told that I couldn't call myself a SF fan if I hadn't read Dune. So I read it. I know Dune is worshipped as a paragon of groundbreaking SF, I can witness and acknowledge Herbert's genius, and I can understand that when it was written it was certainly seminal, but I still don't think much of it.Aside from Herbert's horribly annoying use of 3rd-person-omnipotent viewpoint, he's just not a good writer. For clarification: he's a fantastic story-teller and creator. He has an incredible imagination and a talent for world-building and interweaving complex storylines. But the actual craft of writing, well, he just can't write worth 2 beans. As a result, I found Dune nearly impossible to get through.Story-wise, I got bored with all the political stuff because it's not my thing, and I got bored with all the preaching about ecology. But I loved the elements that dealt more closely with the human drama, the personal choices characters make, their interactions with others, how they cope internally with themselves and their own strengths and weaknesses. Those are the stories I like. There was enough of that here to make me check out the sequel from the library, but after about 10 pages of Herbert's writing I just couldn't stomach any more.


I've read this before and liked it; several portions stick vividly in my mind but I never read the rest of the series. I still don't expect to read the rest of the series, but my friend just read it and has brought it up a few times in conversation so when they had it on the "Librarians' Picks" shelf at the--guess where?!--library I grabbed it.ADDED FEBRUARY 26:The book has some odd characteristics of the writing that I am overlooking in favor of the story. I don't like the rapid jumps of point of view. I also think the "insights" provided by the jump into a character's thoughts are quite obvious and a poor strategy for alerting the reader of character motivations. It's actually kind of bad writing. But it gets better as the book progresses and more happens within each chapter to one or two characters only. I'm at Part II and the writing has improved tremendously.I do think it's funny how little bits of "I'm writing in 1965" slip into what is a remarkably timeless story. One character consults a wrist watch, and it's called a wrist watch. They watch instructional films. There's an evil homosexual in power, which is supposed to be a radical idea the way it's presented. I am very impressed, however, with the way the powerful Bene Gessirit (sp?) women are presented as just being powerful without any of the "I Am Woman" overtones that appear in 1970s and 1980s post-ERA fiction. Perhaps it matters that a man is writing and lacks the outrage and indignation of the oppressed and does not exaggerate what women could accomplish if given the chance. He just presents them as a sect with influence everywhere that pass knowledge and information through female bloodlines. They are neither earth goddessy nor particularly nurturing nor acting exactly like men. It's very modern and quite prescient. I'm impressed.ADDED FEBRUARY 28:I dunno. The book petered out for me in part three. Maybe I'm just being harsh on books this month, but I couldn't keep track of it anymore. Nothing happened but you had to just keep reading. I think I got sick of all the telepathy and prescience. The paranormal is fine but everything was explained as known in some psychic way. No one ever did anything except look into future timelines and pick the one where you weren't dead or someone else was dead and then stuff happened with that result. It was like eating dinner from a pill in Willy Wonka. There'd be these comments from a character along the lines of "let's go kill all those hundreds of slaves now" and "we just killed six thousand people outside"--huge events mentioned in passing. If you have to mention something like that at all, shouldn't there be a scene detailing it? That's excitement, not wisdom gained by psychically uploading the wisdom of ten people older than you.I remember really liking this book the first time I read it and now I don't remember why. Maybe it's because of all the jihad and bourkas and desert nomads in the book. I think we're Islamed out lately. I really would rather have started with the part where the Fremen were doing real work to transform the planet, but I already got that in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy (interestingly, another book/s with direct tributes to Islam).I guess in the end I don't care that much about courtly intrigue and want the book to be about something else. That's not the author's fault, I suppose.


When I was a kid, I tried about a dozen times to get through this book. My mom loved it, so I figured I'd give it a try, but this book definitely has a high learning curve and I had low patience.Years later, of course, when I knew something more about politics, religion, science and life in general, I raced through the book - I devoured it. It's a fantastic work, well deserving of its place in the science fiction pantheon. The movies are good too, though if I could find a way to cross-breed Lynch's version with the version done on the Sci-Fi channel, I think we might actually be able to come to something that really looks like what Herbert wrote. Unfortunately the novel is so dense and so complex that any attempt to put it on-screen is going to fall short.For the two or three of you who don't know the story, know this: it is the year 10,191. The universe is ruled by the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, my fath - DAMN YOU DAVID LYNCH!Sorry, got caught up there for a moment. The Universe is ruled by an Emperor, and governed by planetary noble houses. For those with the resources to do so, travel within the empire is instantaneous, from one corner of the universe to the other. The Spacing Guild, with their space-bending Navigators, hold society together. What gives the Navigators their power is the Spice, and that can only be found on Arrakis. On Dune.House Harkonnen, a bloodline of deception, pain and malice, has been removed from Arrakis, replaced by the good and noble House Atreides. Duke Leto the Just is set over the planet, and would probably rule with kindness and generosity. But kindness and generosity don't make money, and there are plans within plans within plans, all of which are bent on destroying the Atreides. But what the Emperor and his servants cannot know is the role that the Duke's son, Paul, will play in re-shaping the entire order of the universe.There. Now go read.There are more books, sequels to this, but most sources tell me that they're disappointing.

Rajat Ubhaykar

In my head, the purpose of this review is very clear. It is to convince YOU to read this book. Yes, you! Waste time no more. Go grab a copy.Machiavellian intrigue, mythology, religion, politics, imperialism, environmentalism, the nature of power. All this set in a mind-boggling, frighteningly original world which Herbert ominously terms as an "effort at prediction". Dune had me hooked!First impressionThe very first stirring I felt upon opening the yellowed pages of Dune was that of stumbling upon an English translation of an ancient Arabic manuscript of undeniable power and potence which had an epic story to narrate. The tone was umistakably sombre and I realized Herbert was not here to merely entertain me, he was here to make me part of the legend of Muad'Dib. It was intriguing and challenging and heck, since I live for challenges I decided to take this one up too, gladly. The challenge was the complexity and depth of the plot, which left me perplexed, in the beginning. I knew there were dialogues which meant much more than their superficial meaning and was unable to grasp at it. I felt a yawning chasm between Herbert's vision and my limited understanding of it. However, of course, I plodded on and could feel the gap closing in with every page much to my joy and relief. The Foreword"To the people whose labours go beyond ideas into the realm of 'real materials'- to the dry-land ecologists, wherever they may be, in whatever time they work, this effort at prediction is dedicated in humility and admiration." The foreword makes it pretty clear that Frank Herbert isn't kidding around. This is a serious effort at predicting how our world is going to look two thousand years from now and by God, it's a bloody good and detailed prediction. However, the real merit in this effort lies in the commentary on our lives in the present.Why Frank Herbert is a geniusThe setting of the book is arid futuristic. the plot is driven by political mindgames reminiscent of The Game of Thrones. The issues he tackles are as modern as the colour television. Herbert's genius manifests itself in his ability to combine the past, the present and the future in one sweeping elegant move called Dune.Plot and SettingDune is set in a futuristic technologically advanced world which after the Butlerian Jihad (the bloody war between Man and Machines) has eliminated all computers and passed a decree declaring "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a man's mind". Since there are no computers, the essential working of the galaxy is still medieval and feudal with heavy reliance on men and their dallying around. Lots of thriller potential right there. Men with superhuman analytical abilities called Mentats have taken the place of Computers. On the other hand, we have the Bene Gesserit, an ancient school of mental and physical training for female students (it gives them superhuman intuitive powers) who follow a selective breeding program which makes them feared and mistrusted through the Imperium. Their desired end product of this breeding program is the Kwisatz Haderach, a superman who’ll be able to glimpse into the future. How he’ll be able to do this is rooted in Herbert’s idea of determinism: given that one can observe everything and analyze everything, one can effectively glimpse the future in probabilistic terms. Quantum physics anyone? The Kwisatz Haderach is the proposed solution to the male-female dichotomy, between the analytical and intuitive.The plot of Dune is almost wholly set on the desert planet of Arrakis (also referred to as Dune), an arid wasteland where water is so scarce that men have to wear stillsuits which recycle human moisture for further consumption. The source of the galaxy’s interest in the planet is Melange, a spice which bestows upon one longevity and prescient powers. Everything on the planet is permeated with the spice, the air, the sand, the food. Everybody on the planet is hopelessly addicted to the spice, their only hope for survival being their continued intake of the spice. The Spacing Guild, the economic and trading monopolistic arm of the Galaxy badly needs the spice for interstellar transport. This is because their frigates travel faster than the speed of light and hence travel backward in time. The spice is the only way they can look into the future and see their way ahead. How cool is that! All the powers on the Galaxy are out to mine the spice, braving the sandworms, their name merely an euphemism, for they are gigantic 200 metre long creatures which always come digging through the sand whenever spice mining is undertook. Always. There’s also another little glitch. There exist on the planet, the kickass native desert tribal Fremen, whom the foreign powers look down with suspicion and disdain. The Fremen ethos is one of survival and scarcity, driven by tribalism and egalitarianism. Okay, I’ll stop right there. No more spoilers about this. Except that they value water to the extent that spitting on a person is the highest honour they can bestow upon him.Our protagonists are the Atreides family, consisting of the Duke, his Bene Gesserit concubine Jessica and their son Paul, who have been entrusted the stewardship of Arrakis. We discover the alien planet of Arrakis along with them, firstly with fear, suspicion and wonder and ultimately, love and respect. Paul Muad’Dib, however is no ordinary prince. There’s a teeny weeny chance he might be the Kwisatz Haderach, something which troubles him constantly and gives us our conflicted hero. The poor chap trips balls over the spice and has visions of black hordes pillaging and murdering around town bearing his flag and sees his dead body multiple times.My favourite character, however has to be the Baron Vladmir Harkonnen, the most evil character I’ve ever come across in my literary excursions. He is ruddy ruthlessness, he is virile villainy, he is truculent treachery. He executes the inept chess players in his employ which says oodles about his badassery and his fondness for cold-blooded logic. He sees everything in simplistic chess terms. What is my best move? What is my opponent’s best move? Is there anything I can do to completely squash his move? Is there a tactic which leads to mate in three? ThemesIn this setting, Herbert does so much, it’s unbelievable. Religion, politics, the dynamic nature of power, the effects of colonialism, our blatant destruction of our environment are themes which run parallel to the intensely exciting and labyrinthine plot. He shows the paramount importance of myth making and religion for power to sustain over long periods of time. Man, as a political animal is laid completely bare.Real lifeNow these are my thoughts about what Herbert could have meant to be Arrakis-It makes perfect sense. Herbert draws heavy inspiration for the religious ideology of Muad’Dib from Islam. He says “When religion and politics ride in the same cart and that cart is driven by a living Holy man, nothing can stand in the path of such a people.” which is the philosphy of the politics of Islam. Islamism in a nutshell. The spice, much desired by everyone, is the oil. Baron Vladmir Harkonnen is symblomatic of the wily Russians. The Desert foxes Fremen are representative of the native Saudi desert-dwelling Bedouin tribe who have a strongly tribe-oriented culture and undoubtedly value water in equal measure. And the ultimate loser is the environment.Why do good books get over?I almost forget this is a science fiction novel, it’s that real. It is also scary and prophetic. It is a reading experience that will leave you dreaming of the grave emptiness of Arrakis and make you wish you were there to brave it all in the privileged company of the noble Fremen. Frank Herbert achieves the pinnacle of what a sci-fi author aspires to rise to; authentic world building.

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