The Dune Chronicles: Why You Should Read Them
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.
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.
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?).
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.
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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.