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The Dune Chronicles: Why You Should Read Them

Updated on September 3, 2015
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Don't think of the movie just now. Think of the book Dune and how it helped shape an era (the sixties) and how Frank Herbert's craft in writing this science fiction series carries you through the ups and downs of vast empires and civilizations. It is elegant, enjoyable, escapist reading. Almost literally, Dune takes you through the sands of time to a distant future where humans are evolving differently on different planets based on their environment.

The book series does spend time on the politics and the wars between civilizations throughout the 'Known Universe.' However, there is a mystical aspect that includes prophecies and a messiah of sorts that, through iron rule, keeps the entire human race from utter extinction.

You can find many excellent reviews and a complete synopsis of Dune online. My only goal is to give you a brief overview and tell you about the things that made me love this series. I advise that you don't read any synopsis. Instead, read the story.

Story Background

Primarily, I love how the writing beautifully unfolds the story. The dialogue stays believable and fresh. In this vast universe, humans have traveled through the eons of space and have settled on various types of planets. Interplanetary travel is done by a special group of humans called the Spacing Guild Navigators that 'fold space.' That has left everyone else to develop governments on their respective planets overseen by an Intergalactic Empire. Ruling houses under the Empire are rewarded planets. Some are monarchies, some feudal, some are evil and oppressive, some are just and give their people freedom. There are no computers except on the planet Ix. This is because sometime in the past before the story starts, you learn that there was a horrible war between artificial intelligences and humans. Humans won, but just barely. To prevent this from happening again, they destroyed all computers (except for Plant Ix). Instead of computers, each empire or kingdom had people known as 'mentats.' Mentats were human computers that took a special drug to increase their computational speed and fill in the gap where computers would be needed.

Story Details

Herbert's ideas are fantastical. They inspired me to mull over the lives of the characters and how their worlds developed. Dune is the name of the planet in which the epic story centers upon. It is also the planet that everyone fights over because it's the only planet with the resource 'melange;' a drug that lengthens life, stimulates energy and produces a mental awareness.

The production of melange or 'spice' is a dangerous undertaking. It involves a giant, dangerous creature in the Dunes called the worm that has a mysterious connection to the spice. When people try to extract the spice, the thumping of machines draws the giant worms and you need to pull out all your machinery before they get there.

The native people of Dune have developed a way to ride the giant worms and it is they and the hero of our story, Paul Atreides, that use the worms to battle those that would take over the planet and confiscate their resources.

Ideas and traditions have shifted and gotten blurred through time. There are recognizable snippets of ancient human history like a Nun-Witch Order called the Bene Gesserit. Vocabulary is reminiscent as well. The nomadic desert people on Dune are called the Fremen (Free men?).

Frank Herbert

Source

God Emperor of Dune, Book 4 in the Series

This is my absolute FAVORITE book of the series. It takes you to a time very distant from book one in which the 'messiah' has joined physically to the planet itself to rein over all and thus saving the human race from extinction. The painful moments where you see the God Emperor's struggle with his lost humanity are expertly described.

My Dune Collection

I read the book Dune in my young adulthood. I saw the movie, which I call a gallant failure. It had great sets and good acting. I thought, though, the script was choppy. It tried to use dialogue from the book but probably there was just too much story to fit into 2 hours. Also, there was an issue with the vocabulary used in the movie. People who hadn't read the book got confused by the terminology and were turned off by the film.

Despite the failure of the movie, I was a total Dune nerd and collected as much movie paraphenalia as I could. Here are pictures of most of what I have.

Photo Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My collection.My collection includes the entire trading card set.HardbackMy absolute favorite in the series (see product description above).My copy of the handout they gave at the first movie showings to help explain the terminology. You know a movie's got problems if they have to do that.The center panorama from my Dune pop-up book.A storybook recording on a 45 (never opened).
My collection.
My collection.
My collection includes the entire trading card set.
My collection includes the entire trading card set.
Hardback
Hardback
My absolute favorite in the series (see product description above).
My absolute favorite in the series (see product description above).
My copy of the handout they gave at the first movie showings to help explain the terminology. You know a movie's got problems if they have to do that.
My copy of the handout they gave at the first movie showings to help explain the terminology. You know a movie's got problems if they have to do that.
The center panorama from my Dune pop-up book.
The center panorama from my Dune pop-up book.
A storybook recording on a 45 (never opened).
A storybook recording on a 45 (never opened).

Dune is a book series rich in depth and character development that takes place in a world of strange science. It gives a fabulous scenario of the human experience as it spreads across the universe.. Comments welcome.

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      tonyleather 3 years ago

      Fantastic set of books by Frank Herbert. Among my all-time favourites without a doubt!

    • Kim Milai profile image
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      Kim Milai 3 years ago

      @TheCozyDinosaur: Thank you very much. I know I have my own TBR shelf too. The hardest part is getting started.

    • Kim Milai profile image
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      Kim Milai 3 years ago

      @ecogranny: Absolutely! I agree that was part of the message. In a way humans are stewards of the earth, we need to do a better job at it too! :)

    • TheCozyDinosaur profile image

      TheCozyDinosaur 3 years ago

      This book has been on my TBR shelf for a while now... thanks for the nudge to read it. Nice review.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      I well remember reading Dune and Dune Messiah as a young woman. It's been a long time! These books helped deepen my commitment, way back then, to preserving the natural world for generations to come. In a way, Herbert's work is somewhat prophetic, don't you think?

    • Kim Milai profile image
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      Kim Milai 3 years ago

      @Diana Wenzel: Dunca! Thanks!

    • Kim Milai profile image
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      Kim Milai 3 years ago

      @SamuraiMarine: Those words have also helped me get through things in my life. It shows that Science Fiction has more facets in it than some think. These books that are well written (Like, Lord of the Rings) are another way for us to express our humanity. Thank you so much for writing, I just saw your comment and personal story!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      Excellent review. Congrats on your win!

    • SamuraiMarine profile image

      Samuel Wright 3 years ago from Bakersfield, Ca.

      When I first read Dune, it was under duress. I was in school at the time and both school and my mother were force-feeding me books. At the time I was one of those kids that when you told my I should do something or that I might like something, I was immediately against it.In this case, about two years after high school, I picked up a copy of Dune and re-read it and loved it, and then the subsequent books. When the movie came out, I was very disappointed. For lack of a better way to explain it, it felt blasphemous to even watch.Years later, the Sci-Fi channel tried their hand at a miniseries and I will have to say that it was better. There are some books that just do not make the transition to the silver screen. I am worried about what they are going to do to Ender's Game. I am going to watch it, but I am going into it expecting to be disappointed.You know... to this day I will still, from time to time, utter the Fear Incantation.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.Good article. Thanks!

    • Kim Milai profile image
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      Kim Milai 3 years ago

      I saw your lens about it today. I like how you connected Tolle with awakening. Thanks for commenting.

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      grannysage 3 years ago

      I love the book Dune although I couldn't get into the other books. I have always been drawn to the line, "The Sleeper Must Awaken" and wrote a lens based on that. Congrats on being selected as a winner.