Dune (Frank Herbert)

25 June 2014


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 and heir of House Atreides) as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the "spice" melange, the most important and valuable substance in the universe. The story explores the complex and multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion, as the forces of the empire confront each other for control of Arrakis and its "spice".

Average Rating:

Sinclair Manson (17 September 2014 21:46)

I enjoyed Dune the first time I read it and,as with most of the rest of the group, I enjoyed it more this time. I loved the sense it gives of plans within plans and historical momentum beyond the control of any individual. A boy and his mum lost in the desert of an obscure outpost world reshape the face of civilization, as two pebbles might start an avalanche. Paul's ability to see the future only makes him even more aware of his own helplessness.

I'm not sure I agree with some of the assessments of colonialism and sexism. For me, Paul's success relies on his becoming wholeheartedly Fremen, even as his presence transforms the Fremen into something new. One could interpret that as a warning against the more dismissive and stereotypically colonial attitudes of the other members of Arakis' ruling class and of the explosive potential of cultural cross-fertilization. As for Jessica's relegation to queen mother, to me that speaks less of sexism and more of her inability to step out of the worldview of the galactic elite to which she belongs and to understand the game changing impact of the Kwisatz Haderach. I see her as more a representative of her class than of her gender.

Overall, top notch grand sci-fi, with plenty to ponder.

Sean Aaron (5 July 2014 09:24)

This was my third or fourth read and it's still a classic. The political intrigue is what hooks me and the exploration of the concept of the origin of messianic figures which I recall reading was the whole purpose of writing the book in the first place. Sadly future stories don't live up to this first one, though Dune Messiah was written in the same timeframe as the last chapter to Dune, later books have a different tone and take rather bizarre turns in story.

I don't disagree the characters aren't necessarily well-developed; the focus is more on the far-future culture and in that respect I think the book succeeds brilliantly.

Carol Ann Balloch (26 June 2014 17:09)

I read this about ten years ago and I hoped it would live up to my younger expectations...I pretty much felt that it did. Fascinating universe that is really well thought out and could benefit from more exploration easily.
I liked the idea of a pre-existing legend blending with a character's 'fate' and thus it's not completely clear if Muad'dib is really a predestined savior of Arrakis or if he merely inhabits the role as he has no real choice per se and does it initially to save his own skin.
Still thought the Fremen were pretty self-sustaining and had a plan with or without Paul's influence. I think the only thing I wasn't sure of was that it just had to be a guy who was the 'Kwisatz Haderach'. Women do have their place in the novel (as the Bene Gessirit) and their status is strange blend of a having a blatant influence in the politics across the different Houses but their influence is mostly through manipulation and selective breeding. Also Jessica who starts out as an important, influential character on Paul's life in the beginning gets quickly pushed to the sidelines once Paul surpasses her in the Weirding ways etc and becomes more or less the 'Chosen One'. Although the last line of the book is perhaps a heads-up to the important role that women that still get to play in the universe and will be remembered for the roles they played in history.

Also much, much better than the book and less strange. I remembered the cat from the movie but I had somehow blocked the rat being attached to the cat-how on earth I managed to forget that I'll never know!

Graham MacDonald (26 June 2014 09:21)

I didn't hate this anything like as much as I did the first time I read it, mainly because I didn't really understand it the first time I read it and had to keep looking up the appendix. It does suffer a bit from made up sci-fi word syndrome but the universe is well realised and really interesting. Unfortunately the characters are a bit one dimensional at points and the whole "White man comes to liberate the noble savage" motif feels a little tasteless. I got a bit tired of the internal monologues after a while, especially from Jessica, who seemed to be a bit of an idiot despite being trained in the weirding ways of the Bene Geserit.

Much better than the film though, which I re watched for this. Some things just shouldn't be revisited (even accounting for the amazing "rat selotaped to a cat" scene which definitely wasn't in the book!).