I’ve tried to read Dune before. It was a ‘started-but-couldn’t-finish’ during my Books Before 30 years (technically a break from the rules, but it was killing my desire to read).
I’m not sure what made me want to read it again, a friend mentioned reading it, a sudden desire to fall into an epic sci-fi, perhaps both. Dune by Frank Herbert was an intricate reading experience, a novel I’m glad I’ve read but didn’t entirely enjoy the reading.
“Melange, or ‘spice’, is the most valuable – and rarest – element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person’s life-span to making intersteller travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world Arrakis. Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.
When the Emperor transfers stewardship of Arrakis from the noble House Harkonnen to House Atreides, the Harkonnens fight back, murdering Duke Leto Atreides. Paul, his son, and Lady Jessica, his concubine, flee into the desert. On the point of death, they are rescued by a band for Fremen, the native people of Arrakis, who control Arrakis’ second great resource: the giant worms that burrow beneath the burning desert sands. In order to avenge his father and retake Arrakis from the Harkonnens, Paul must earn the trust of the Fremen and lead a tiny army against the innumerable forces aligned against them.
And his journey will change the universe.” GoodReads.
For a book written in the mid-sixties, Dune still holds today. You can see its influences, Star Wars, in particular, comes to mind. It’s so very separate from reality, in a totally different universe to our own. It is this that prevents the novel from dating, with no relation to the technology of the 60s there is no possible way for it to feel as though it is from the past. Even the technology of the Dune universe is so clever, with enough detail to understand the world, but not too much that my own reality may compare to it.
It’s a long novel with a lot of detail, detail that must be paid attention too. It took half the novel to recognise all the characters and their roles. The first half the novel was engrossing, but more because I knew at some point the harmony of Paul and Jessica’s existence was going to change. Once Paul begins his transition from boy to man, I was ready for the page to pick up. It doesn’t. Some of that process is interesting and some of it isn’t.
Paul and Jessica were characters I wanted to follow and for a 60s novel, it felt surprisingly egalitarian. With female warriors (but so much more that warriors) in the form of the Bene Gesserit, masters of manipulation and knowledge. Also, there is a kick-ass, all-knowing three-year-old that became my favourite character. In case you read it, I can’t tell you more.
I started watching the film a few days ago, which may have been a mistake (but it has Patrick Stuart in it, instant win!). So now I’m not sure I paid enough attention to the novel. The Guild were not as expected. Nor was the bending of space.
Go forth and read Dune my friends, if only to quiz me on how much attention I paid (and to discuss the three-year-old).