Dune by Frank Herbert

So.  I am embarrassed to admit that I cannot tell you who listed Dune in their top ten.  I looked it up last night, but then was unable to post.  I can now post but don’t have the book where I’m at.  So, mysteriously enough, I can tell you that it was just one person who listed Dune in their top ten and that I think their last name started with a “M”.  That second thing might be wrong though.

Prior to this, whenever I heard about Dune or saw the book around, I always had vague images of deserts and huge worms and weird 70s looking men and women pretending to be desert dwellers.  Then, those images would mix in my mind with Luke Skywalker whining and C3PO and R2D2 getting sand in various mechanical crevices.

Apparently, at some point, I either watched Dune at a time where my young brain quickly forgot it, or when my brain was intoxicated, ensuring that I would also forget it (which happened with most movies watched in that state, except, ironically, Dazed and Confused).

Segue to me saying “These are not the droids you’re looking for”.

The movie is notoriously bad.  Everyone I told that I was reading the book all looked at me in horror and said “YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE MOVIE HAVE YOU?” and when I would say not that I remembered, they’d all look relieved and say “Oh the book is much better than the movie.”

The book is much, much better than the reputation and vague memories of the movie that I have.  I can’t say that it’s my favorite sci-fi I’ve ever read.  In all honesty, if it was written today and marketed, I can imagine it would be shelved in the YA section of the library.  That’s not an insult though, some of the best books I’ve read in the last 3 years have been shelved in the YA section of the library (Ashenfall, We Were Liars and Fan Girl, just from the last 3 months spring to mind).  It’s got an adolescent protagonist, Paul, who moves to the desert planet from Caladan which was a planet that was quite literally dripping with moisture (I refuse to use the word “moist”.  There is no worse word, well, except for Stephanie Meyers favorite word, “chuckle”).  His father has been assigned to the planet by the Emperor.  There is a huge feud between the Atreides (Paul’s family) and the Harkonnen household (which, going with the odd Star Wars parallels, has a version of Jabba the Hut as its patriarch).  The Harkonnens were the ones on the planet previously running the show.  The desert has something called “spice” which seems to be some weird class of something that is more than a spice for food but somewhere less than LSD.  People that can only eat food from Arrakis (mainly, the fremen who are the nomads of the desert on the planet) have eyes that are entirely blue, with no whites or pupils to them.  This indicates a diet entirely of food seasoned with “spice”.

Betrayal, disaster and exile occur.  Resurrection and retribution occur.  The book is both a novel of a humanity of the future’s quest to get genetics back under control and a group (they’d be the mage class if this was fantasy and not science fiction)’s desire to control the end result of the genetic manipulation and a coming of age story of a savior.

This is a completely PG novel.  While the main character Paul ends up having a son, if you were not aware of the mechanics of how sons come to be, you might think that a sand worm (yes, they do exist in the book but in a much cooler way) delivered them on door steps.  It’s also an accessible science fiction book.  I think some SF books are very hard to get into, obtuse and technical.  This reminded me a lot of Ender’s Game, in terms of the ease of reading it for a person who doesn’t read sci fi a lot.

And, the more I think about it, the more it seems like Lucas ripped a lot of Dune off for Star Wars.  I will have to discuss this with Greg.  Definitely put this on your list of things to read, while it might not be in my top ten, it’s worth the time and who knows, it might end up being in yours 😉

Have a great weekend!!

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