Dune

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

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Classics Currently Reading Fantasy Favorites Fiction Sci Fi Sci Fi Fantasy Science Fiction Scifi To Read

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

Donovan

I had never read Dune. I can’t put my finger on exactly why I hadn’t read it; although, I do have a nebulous memory of picking it up and not being able to get in to it. I know for a fact that I’d read the closing line previously, which is something I never do prior to reading a book; so that is really odd, perhaps it was quoted in either the movie or the miniseries.I do know people, a surprising number of people, who give Dune an almost Biblical reverence. It isn’t a selective grouping either. A totally random swath of people I’ve known have considered Dune to have had a very formative role in their growth; one, in particular, credits it with her move away from conservative religion. It is a really big deal to some people.While I don’t feel like reading Dune changed my life, I did really enjoy it. I suspect I partially enjoyed it just due to contrast. I felt so unstimulated by the Foundation Trilogy that I was thrilled to read something where a “hero” was doing something. It allowed for the “I can change the world” fantasy transposition of reader and main character that I was missing in the Foundation books. I think that having a cast of characters who are active in the whole of the book was an important factor in drawing me into the story.I also enjoyed it for the richness of the world. That’s where most of the “science” in this fiction was found, and I find myself more drawn to science as I mature. [In fact, I have been disappointed thus far; I want more science, less fiction.] I have to constantly remind myself while reading through the books on this list that these were, presumably, the first books to use these concepts. Frank Herbert made a universe, complete, from Space Guild to sand plankton. Even after years of reading other stories by authors who have done the same, I can still appreciate the depth of thought and idea behind Arrakis and its surrounding universe. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book which had as great a handle on the ecology of the world in which is was set; if I were pressed, I can only think of Grass by Sherri S. Tepper as coming close.Equally impressive was his treatment of religion. I especially liked the appendices, which moved even deeper into the evolution of religion over time. Herbert’s answer to how religion [and culture] evolved over the millennia[s] since “Old Earth” is similar in concept to the answer Joss Whedon gave with Firefly. Herbert saw the future as blend of Middle Eastern and Western ways; Whedon’s future is China/America. Being that his focus was religious as opposed to say, economic, this is understandable. It may even have been more base than that. Possibly he chose that direction because Arrakis is most similar to our desert regions where Islam originated, but I think it has more to do with cultural impact than mere climatic coincidence.I think one of the strongest elements is the writing itself. It’s very well written. Although I had been exposed to 2 movie versions of Dune prior to reading it, almost none of the previous imagery colored my mental image of what the characters and settings were supposed to look like. Weaker writing would have easily allowed my perceptions to be molded by the theatrical versions. I really hate when that happens. I don’t even know how I used to imagine Harry Potter looking before the movies came out. If Paul Atreides looks like anyone in my head that I’ve seen visually, I’d tell you he looks like this kid I went to school with [coincidentally named Paul Strange] [anybody remember that kid?] albeit much more attractive.

Matt

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.

Jacob

If this isn't a formative text, then I don't know what is. I figure evangelicals have the bible, and usually a regressive translation at that, while my family had weird science fiction novels. One that all ten of my brothers and sisters read was Dune. It's true. I grew up in a large family. A sprawling sort of California family of Hippie-Hillbillies positioned precariously on the edge of the continent that seemed to be positioning itself to dump us all into the ocean. We had a small herd of goats and lived on a dirt lot up in the mountains. Our home was an old sunday school bus, bought from a biker gang called "The Satanic Sluts" that roared around the streets of El Monte. We had one copy of Dune between us and my father would crouch in the gray dust next to the broken down VW Bug and he read aloud from this tattered and yellowing copy of Dune. As he read, the wind would blow through the wild flowers, and our little herd of goats would forage through the hillsides, trampling and collapsing the dens of coyotes as they went. At night the coyotes would emerge from their collapsed dens, shaking dust off of their bodies and they would trot off into the distance. When the wind blew, we gathered beneath our mother's apron and stuffed our mouths with wild blackberries. The sun rose and our ragged blond heads bobbed over those steep hills.

Stefan Yates

I really enjoyed Dune. I think that Frank Herbert is deserving of being considered as one of the foundation blocks of modern Science Fiction. To me, what made this novel so special is the immense amount of care that Herbert put in to world-building and creating comprehensive political and religious structures that encompass many different facets of the people who populate the complex world (and universe) that he has created.In some ways, Herbert has almost treated this novel as more of a Fantasy-type novel that he then fleshed out with Science Fiction elements. So much care has gone into creating the world itself that you don't see as much in Science Fiction as you do in Fantasy. While reading the novel, I felt that you could have asked Mr. Herbert any off-the-wall question about the Freman culture or way of life and he would be able to answer without hesitation. I think this same feel also applies to the Bene Gesserit, House Atreides, House Harkonnen and the politics and people involved in the majority of the Imperial regime. It's this feel of a complete back-ground and established history that make this novel (and hopefully the rest of the series) truly special much like Tolkien's Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.The story itself is fairly fast-paced and filled with political intrigue. The story does have slow moments from time to time, but these times mainly focus on critical moments in character development or the building of important plot points, so they didn't seem to drag at all but actually served to enhance the more dramatic and action-oriented segments of the novel. Characters both good and evil, long-term and brief, are fully fleshed out and easy to root for or against. All in all, a very good novel and one that is deserving of the praise that it has received from fans and critics alike. I will not hesitate to pick up the next book in the series sometime down the road.

Terry

Is it space opera? Is it political commentary? Is it philosophical exploration? Is it fantasy? _Dune_ is all of these things and possibly more. One thing I do know: it's a kick-ass read!I've loved this book since I first plunged into it's mightily constructed, weird and obscure world. Of course it's hailed as a classic, and I am one of those that agrees. The sheer magnitude of Herbert's invention, his monumental world-building tied with an exciting story of betrayal, survival, rebellion and ultimate ascendance are more than enough to guarantee that. His characters too, are worthy of note: Paul Atreides the young heir to not only a ducal throne, but the hopes and desires of the oppressed population of an entire planet and the strange otherworldly powers of prescience and command that are his unique birthright; his mother Jessica torn between devotion to her family and her pledge to a generations-long plan spawned by a secret order bent on controlling the universe from behing the scenes; Chani and Stilgar the wild yet honourable representatives of a dangerous people just waiting to burst their chains and explode onto an unsuspecting universe. Add to these heroes the malign Baron Harkonnen and his debased nephews Feyd Rautha and "the beast" Rabban, the spiteful and covetous Emperor Shaddam IV, masterminds of the fall of Paul's House, and we have the recipe for an exciting contest of wills with no less than the future of humanity at stake.Even without an exciting story to drive it, the book is almost worth reading just to experience the world created by Herbert. 10,000 years in the future mankind has experience the "Butlerian Jihad" wherein all "thinking machines" were destroyed and the hatred of the technological has a religious conviction. In their place there are the Mentats, the "human computers" able to utilize the human mind to nearly it's full potential, drawing accurate inferences and conclusions with minimal data. There is the Sisterhood of the Bene Gesserit, a community of women who have honed their mental powers to the point of a near magical ability to coerce, tied with a training in politics and influence that would make Machiavelli proud. Finally is the Guild: a community of mutated humans, the sole "pilots" able to bend space and foresee their path amidst the void and thus keep interstellar trade and community together. Both the Siterhood and the Guild owe their great powers to the mysterious spice Melange, the only product of the planet Arrakis (known colloquially as Dune) and the society of the Empire in general also depends on it for its "geriatric qualities". Dune is thus the linch-pin for all Imperial power. Without the spice, travel ceases, trade stops, life ends. He who controls the spice controls the universe.Upon this stage is born Paul Atreides, the son of the Duke who is to take control of Arrakis as a fiefdom for the emperor. Paul is not merely the heir to political power though, for he is the last link in a chain of breeding that has been going on for generations, part of a plan created by the Bene Gesserit in the hopes of breeding a superhuman whom they could control. But Paul was born too early, his mother's rebellion against her orders have brought about an unforeseen occurrence. Now in the midst of political betrayal and the loss of all he has known Paul must also fight for survival amongst the most merciless tribe of humanity the universe has formed. Greater powers than any human before him has known will be thrust upon the young man, and the mantle of messiah will be his to accept or reject.Did I mention that I love this book? Well I do. I highly recommend it to any and all. I must admit that there is the occasional infelicity in some of Herbert's prose (and a too-heavy reliance on inner monologues to either state the obvious or convey information to the reader), but overall I can forgive him this for having crafted such an excellent tale. Woven into the story of a tottering space empire are real questions about ecology, responsibility and human life that are well-worth thinking about. Politics is not just a veneer, but the lifeblood of this story and, to me at least, it makes it all the more exciting.I'll admit right here that I am one of the few who actually likes all of the original Dune books, though I must admit that after the original trilogy Herbert seems to lose some of the strands of his narrative thread and my admiration is mostly due to the character of (view spoiler)[ Duncan Idaho (hide spoiler)] and the world-building. (But please avoid the prequels and sequels written by Herbert's son and Kevin Anderson in an attempt to cash in on the franchise, they are worse than anathema.)Also posted at Shelf Inflicted["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

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.

Keely

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.

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.

Otis Chandler

When people ask me what my favorite book is, Dune is always my answer. Words cannot even do justice to what an epic tale this is. We learn about spirituality, human nature, politics, religion, and the making of a hero.I loved the spiritual aspects of the book the best. The philosophies and practices and Pranu Bindu training of the Bene Gesserit that Paul learns and builds upon. The Bene Gesserit believe in a training regiment that results in a superior human being - one with every sense as refined as possible. This means a focus on learning, on controlling emotion, on controlling your body. My absolute favorite quote from Dune is the Bene Gesserit litany against fear:"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."The litany is meant to be recited when you are in a moment of fear, and as I first read Dune 20 years ago, I've employed it many times. After Paul employs it when he is fighting Jamis, the affect on him is described as "a cool bath washing over him. He felt muscles untie themselves, become poised and ready." I have read a lot about people who perform at high levels - whether it be in athletics or business, and success is all about getting into that zen state where you have a clear, focused mind. Fear is the biggest thing that can cloud one's mind - usually fear of failure, but there are other forms too. While this Litany won't always eliminate it, I've felt it to be useful to recognize the fear and call it out for what it is.There is also a focus in the book on being able to read people by paying attention to the minutia. In many crucial scenes we see Paul and Jessica and others employing this skill, using not only their eyes, but reading the tone of what a person says, what their body language or actions say, and more. Imagine the poker player I could be if I learned these skills!"If you rely only on your eyes, your other senses weaken."It's interesting to me that so many science fiction novels contemplate a future with AI (aka post-singularity). In Dune, the Butlerian Jihad was the human rebellion to rid itself of AI or "thinking machines". They are now banned, and in their place we have Mentats, who are humans with processing powers far greater than any thinking machine. It's unclear to the software engineer in me how exactly that could be without some sort of physical manipulation (insertion of massive amounts of transistors, for instance), but the affect is pretty cool, we get Spock-esque beings who analyze everything extremely logically, and are great at political planning "feints within feints within feints". There was a lot in the book about leadership. It started with Paul first learning about it from his Father, and also from the Bene Gesserit. This quote stood out to me:"She asked me to tell her what it is to rule," Paul said. “And I said that one commands. And she said I had some unlearning to do." She hit a mark there right enough, Hawat thought. He nodded for Paul to continue. "She said a ruler must learn to persuade and not to compel. She said he must lay the best coffee hearth to attract the finest men."Later as he grows into a leader himself, Paul learns that the most essential ingredient to be a leader is to lead people to a worthy goal."It was another of the essential ingredients that she felt her son needed: people with a goal. Such people would be easy to imbue with fervor and fanaticism. They could be wielded like a sword to win back Paul’s place for him."Much has been made in modern reviews of Dune of the fact that it's clearly a statement about oil and the Middle East. The book even admits the Fremen are of Sunni descent, and many words they use (Jinn, Jihad, etc) are Arabic. I'm not sure I understand all the undertones, but one thing that was clear was about control of the worlds most precious commodity: "The people who can destroy a thing, they control it." I hope we are closing in on the end of the days when oil controls so much, but we aren't there yet. In the meantime, we had best beware of any future Harkonnen's.

Terence

Don't mistake me, Dune, the novel, retains its 4+ stars in my heavens. This audio version gets the lesser rating because of deficiencies in presentation.The good side of the CD is that, as happened while listening to Tolkien's The Silmarillion, I heard a lot of things I had missed or glossed over in my many rereadings of the book. (I first read Dune when I was 12 or so.) For example, I had never really grasped the "ecological" theme of the novel that many critics point to. I understood the setting of Arrakis but it was just that - the scene where much of the action takes place. The CD brought out Arrakis' role as a character in the book that my readings hadn't. Which is good - I like discovering something new when I reread a book.On the downside: The discs keep going back and forth between the narrator who reads all parts - dialog and narrative - and a cast that handles the dialog. And there appears to be no rhyme or reason for when this happens. In the first case, the narrator is fine when he's reading the story but his vocal range is limited. I wouldn't have minded him reading the entire novel but I think the production should have been consistent - all reader or reader + cast.As to the cast-read parts, most of the speakers are seriously miscast in my opinion. Particularly egregious were the actors who voiced Gurney Halleck and Stilgar. Gurney's tone and rhythms are all off; and Stilgar's delivery is stilted and suffers from a bad pseudo-Middle Eastern accent. (I admit, however, that the fault may not be entirely the cast's fault. Listening to Dune does highlight the fact that Herbert's ear for natural-sounding dialog is not always very good.)Recommended if you liked Dune and need something to listen to on a long road trip or to-and-from work, but one could wish for a better adaptation.

Cindy

I've spent a few days hoping that my thoughts and feelings about Dune will solidify into one coherent and brilliant essay. There's a lot going on in the book, and there's been a lot going on in my life, so coherency might not be forthcoming.Dune is intricate, at times confusing, allegorical and meticulously researched story. Even though I didn't fall in love with the characters, I fell in love with the book. It's easy to see how Dune is a classic, often imitated.I loved this book, but at least one of my GR friends who I greatly respect hated this book. Which is fine, because, hey, we all have different tastes. (And thank Odin we've got diverse authors and genres for all types!) But I couldn't help ponder which attributes might make Dune so disliked. Sure, it's long, it's complicated, and has a pretty big cast of characters. And despite the Reverend Mothers and their power, the book has that overall masculine appeal - testosterone in overdrive. I don't mind that, but I can see how it could bother some readers. But I think there might be other factors that would cause people to not just dislike, but really hate Dune. My hypothesis, (which I admit is most likely completely wrong, but I'll put it out there anyhow): Dune will only be loved by hard-core science fiction fans. I don't mean this in any derogatory way, since science fiction doesn't and can't appeal to all tastes. And that's quite all right by me.A year ago, Jo Walton wrote about a concept that she attributes to Samuel R. Delany, specifically from his book The Jewel-Hinged Jaw: Notes on the Language of Science Fiction. The thesis is that science-fiction has it's own language and protocols. From Walton's essay:"He then went on to say that one of the ways of approaching SF is to look at the way people read it—that those of us who read it have built up a set of skills for reading SF which let us enjoy it, where people who don’t have this approach to reading are left confused."For SF fans, it's fun to read a story and not fully understand the language, the technology, the aliens, or what have you. And Dune is extremely challenging in this regard. The desert dwellers, the Fremen, have a culture that can be shocking and overly practical to us Earth-dwellers. There is a whole language and terminology invented, complete with a glossary included with the book. Herbert drops facts about a pre-history into the readers lap as if the reader already has knowledge of those events. It's a challenge to read, and not all readers would find those challenges "fun."Other fun things in Dune: Huge sandworms! Blue eyeballs! "Do as she says, you wormfaced, crawling, sand-brained piece of lizard turd!" Prophesies! Water-reclamation technologies!OK, now that I've thoroughly pissed off my non-sci-fi-loving friends, let's totally shift gears here. In my 40th Anniversary Edition, there is a afterword written by Frank Herbert's son, Brian Herbert, who has written many of the Dune sequels. Here's a few of the more fascinating revelations in his essay:* "When he was a boy, eight of [Frank Herbert's] Irish Catholic aunts tried to force Catholocism on him, but he resisted. Instead, this became the genesis of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood."* Herbert researched over a 4-year period, 1957-1961, then wrote the book between 1961-1965. The book was rejected by all the major publishing houses, but was finally picked up by Chilton, the publisher of all those car-repair manuals.* Sometimes Herbert would write passages first in poetry, before he expanded and converted them to prose.* Herbert took some inspiration of the Paul Maud'dib character from Lawrence of Arabia - the outsider who helped lead a desert revolt in Turkey in WWI.

Richard

8/10A thoroughly enjoyable tale which is a classic in its own right and one that rightly stands atop the shoulders of many others in the sci-fi genre. Coming at it some 50 years after its publication date made the impact of this a little less impressive as some of the main ideas here have been seen multiple times in other works since, compared to if I was coming at it from publication date. Things that can’t be taken away from this and are still really impressive are the sheer scope and depth of the world building and the cultures that inhabit Arrakis, quite often overshadowing the main events that are unfolding in the plot. The main story will be known by most as this has been around for some time and has even been adapted to both film and tv series. The book is split into 3 books of their own right which gave the overall feel of this somewhat as a condensed trilogy: The first book laid the foundations and gave the principle characters time to shine. I originally struggled to get into the book with all these tricky names and cultures I was unfamiliar with but when I’d got past the learning curve I began to enjoy things. There was political intrigue as to what was to occur on the new planet that House Atreides was moving to, also why the Duke was so ready to accept something that seemed so obviously a trap, even so that the Duke knew it himself. The characters were fleshed out enough to make them interesting but yet not enough to make you really care if any of them were struck down. The main bad guy was pretty terrible though. The ending of this book was somewhat bizarre and instantly drew me in to the next one. The second book was where things took a downward turn for me. The pacing became glacial with nothing major happening and I was worried that the promise of the first book would be lost. The characters didn’t have enough about them to keep things going on their own and the plot was all geared around Paul and his new abilities. This is when I felt it truly was like a mini trilogy as the 2nd books always seem to slow building events for the final book.Which brings us neatly to the end. I wasn’t expecting the shift in time but it didn’t alter the fact that this book had more going on straightaway than the entire last book. Things really picked up and I was unable to put it down until completed. Everything was rounded off nicely with enough interest to take me to the next book at a later date. So whilst not the best read of the year I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would pick up the next in the series to see how things progress. A special shoutout has to go to the people I read this with in my first “buddy read” who offered their views and thoughts which added to the whole experience. If you like this try: "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes

Eric Allen

DuneBy Frank HerbertA Dune Retrospective by Eric AllenMy Wheel of Time retrospective is almost complete, so it's time for me to start up another one: Dune. For most people, Dune is a nearly incomprehensible cult classic movie that tells the tale of a man taking revenge for his father's murder by conquering a corrupt empire. For the true Sci-Fi nerd, Dune is to Science Fiction as Lord of the Rings was to Fantasy. At the time that Dune was published, Science Fiction was thought of as a low brow, childish genre that no one with an ounce of self respect would either read or write. Before this book, Sci-Fi was basically the joke of the literary world, and if you've read much Sci-Fi that comes before it, you'll see that people rightly thought of it as such. Frank Herbert had a brilliant idea. He had a story that was epic in scope, with great characters, intrigue, betrayal, revenge, and a whole slew of other things that had never really been applied to the Science Fiction genre, and instead of putting them in what would have been a more respectable setting at the time this book was written, he put it in a Sci-Fi setting. In a quote, Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, attributes his inspiration to go forward with his ideas for the original Star Trek series the following year to the success of Dune, and Sci-Fi fandom was born. Dune is an epic story, that happens to take place in a Science Fiction setting. At the time of its publication, it was one of a kind. These were two things that no one had ever thought to put together because the notion seemed ridiculous until Herbert showed them the way. You can see in the fifty years of Science Fiction that followed, many nods, references, and inspirations taken from this book.Herbert spent nearly a decade compiling notes before he even began writing this book. He wanted everything in it to be as scientifically accurate as possible. And it really does show in the book. In fact, when NASA began talking about how to terraform Mars into a planet that could support human life, it was Dune that they turned to first for ideas. Forgive any misspellings, this time through the book was in audio format and holy crap are there a lot of words hard to spell just by listening to them in this book.Dune begins with House Atreides packing up to leave their homeworld of Caladan to take possession of Arrakis, a.k.a. Dune, and the production of the spice that is harvested there, from their ancient rivals the Harkonens. Duke Leto knows that this is a trap, but is confidant that he can turn it to his advantage, and so has accepted the posting, moving his son Paul, and his concubine Jessica, as well as all of their servants and small army of House Soldiers to Dune.As Duke Leto predicted, a trap was laid for vague reasons that the book doesn't really feel the need to explain, though ARE explained, strangely enough, in the extended cut of the 1984 movie adaptation of all things. Through the use of a traitor, the Harkonens slaughter the Duke's forces, and take him and his family hostage. The Duke dies in custody, but Paul and his mother are able to escape into the desert where they join up with a group of Fremen, the native people of Arrakis.The rest of the book deals with Paul amongst the Fremen, preparing to take back Arrakis. He goes through rites of passage to become a full member of the Fremen tribe, and is affected by the spice to become the Kwisatz Haderach, or the first male Bene Gesserit, a being that their order has spent hundreds of generations regulating the breeding of the nobility of the universe to produce.When Paul's son is murdered, he leads a final attack on the Harkonens, taking Arrakis for the Fremen and the Empire for himself through the very real threat of being able to destroy all spice forever on Arrakis.The Good? As I said, Herbert did massive amounts of research into desert climates, what it would take to turn a desert into a paradise, how a body loses moisture and how that moisture can be saved, and a thousand other little details that make Dune all the more realistic because the science upon which the fiction is built is sound. His hard work really paid off to make a very realistic alien world. His combination of Science Fiction and elements of Epic, and Fantasy as well was revolutionary at the time, and brought about the golden age of Science Fiction that we know today. Such great series as Star Trek and Star Wars owe their success, in part, to Dune for paving the way before them. Herbert is a good writer, despite one or two flaws that I'll go into later in the review. His ability to describe things without seeming like he's describing them is something that few writers ever seem to be capable of achieving. His wording is, often times, very poetic, and he knows the value of repeating themes to make them stick in a reader's mind without going too far into repetition. Characters have very distinct and different personalities, and their interactions often come with quite a bit of clever dialog. There is a lot of exposition to give in this book, and the author never really infodumps it on us. He weaves it into the story oftentimes rather than lecturing us on it.The entire book is a rather clever allegory for Middle Eastern Oil that the author denied until shortly before his death. It makes a real profound statement on the world's reliance upon a resource that comes from such a volatile, and barren place that was MUCH ahead of its time.The Bad? There are a few things that are very vague in this book. The reason for moving House Atreides to Arrakis, for one. There are a lot of character motivations that are really left to the reader's imagination. We're not really told why a lot of things are happening, or how. There are a lot of things that happen for the convenience of the plot without explanation. Herbert worked for years on the science of Dune, but maybe he should have spent a little more time on developing the actual story on top of it. There are several uses of plot convenience and Dues Ex Machina that, while not overly offensive to the reader, DO still noticeably exist.The Ugly? The whole concept of the Kwisatz Haderach is not really explained AT ALL. Almost the entirety of the book deals with Paul becoming the Kwisatz Haderach, and Herbert never actually tells us what it is, what it does, or what it is supposed to accomplish. And yes, I HAVE read all of the other books so I have a much fuller understanding from them, but I'm talking about this book and this book alone, taken on its own merits. And taken on its own merits the Kwisatz Haderach is just some vague Chosen One that will do "something" sometime in the future. We are told that this being will be able to see the genetic memory of the male side of things as well as the female side, but it's never really explained what that means, what it entails, and why it's important. Paul develops powers of precognition, but we never really get told why or how, or if this is a part of his heritage as the Kwisatz Haderach. For a concept that is talked about for the majority of the book, and which the main character basically sets out on a quest to become, by the end of the book it's still a gigantic question mark. We know almost nothing about it by the time we reach the ending.This is just my personal preference, and really more of a nitpick than anything else, but the book is written in a voice called Third Person Omniscient, which means that rather than sticking with one single character's viewpoint for the entirety of a scene, with clear breaks to indicate the switching to a different character's point of view, the author switches around from character to character at random when one of them has a thought or observation that is relevant to the plot. I find it to be annoying and oftentimes confusing. This is one of my biggest dislikes in writing styles and was distracting enough to me that it did take away some of my enjoyment from the book.In conclusion, Dune has done quite a bit for Science Fiction as a genre. It's basically THE Science Fiction book. It's the one that paved the way for many of the excellent Sci-Fi that we have today, bringing the genre out of obscurity and showing its critics that it could be used to tell a truly epic story that is worth the time to read. Despite a few instances of vagueness, plot convenience, and just plain not explaining crucial plot details, Dune is a very enjoyable book that still holds up today, almost fifty years since its publication, as well as it did the day it was released. It is a book that every fan of Science Fiction should read at least once in their life. Check out my other reviews.

Christopher

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.

Matt

This is the best book ever written. Cerebrally stimulating for anyone. When we attempt to understand why entertainment of this caliber (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars) and mass appeal (Harry Potter) resonates so strongly with us, many are quick to utilize Jungian archetypes to support such effects. I haven't heard it said for this novel and for good reason, I believe. Herbert didn't draw upon existing archetypes to flesh out his story, He created completely different new ones. Herbert's vision was such that in his far-flung future, not only did he imagine how technological and socio-economic circumstances might change, which are defining factors for the SF genre, he drafted how consciousness itself would evolve. The characters in Dune may resemble some sort of Jungian / Campbellian hero vs. anti-hero but, their actions, thought patterns and mannerisms are effected by 10 thousand years of evolution. The same amount of time has elapsed since we as Cro-magnon stepped on the recently thawed lands as the last ice-age receded. Herbert is able to draft these neo-humans not in a different, alienating light either. There is much in these characters that is to be admired, envied and adored. Paul Atreides, the main crux and fulcrum of the novel, is attempting to follow a dangerous path in life as he finds he has the choice to evolve even further to what very well may be a 'godhead.' Fueled by revenge for his father and hounded by his enemies and the very environment that surrounds him, he plays with fire as he discovers new found powers his perceptions of the universe offer him. Guiding him is his mother, Jessica. She is the bound concubine of Duke Leto, Paul's father and a powerful priestess in a secretive sisterhood, the Bene Gesseret. She guides Paul to his new found provenance by instructing him in the secret ways of mind and body control espoused by the sisterhood. They both are refugees on the intolerable planet Arrakis, or Dune, where no rain falls and the planet is swathed in inhospitable dessert. They find unlikely allies in the Fremen, indigenous peoples of the dessert who live by hard means and hard ways. All of this is surrounded by a backdrop of plausible political intrigue and complicated detante, certain morality tales and sub themes and action - that in perfect Herbert Style - hits the ground running.If you have seen the David Lynch movie version or perhaps the sc-fi channel's mini-series adaptation, I still recommend you read this book. I would gather that about 85% of what occurs in the novel is purely cerebral and cannot be expressed visually. Besides, how could anyone hand over the muscal them for Muad `Dib, the Kwisatz Haderach to some washed up band like Toto? (Although, I do have to admit they did a good job of it.) You should read this book!! If you don't own a copy, or do not intend on buying one. Get a hold of me and I will send you one.

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