I feel like I should hand in my nerd card for not having read this before now, though I did watch the David Lynch (er… I mean, Alan Smithee) movie. I just never got around to as a kid. Or, to put it in my kid’s brain way of thinking: sure the space stuff is cool, but it’s mostly desert stuff.
Dune is one of those books that has a bit of a legend surrounding its very existence. It started out as a serialized story in Analog magazine, then was later expanded on into the novel we know today. Unable to find a more traditional publisher to accept it (he tried over 20) it was eventually accepted by Chilton Books, who were best known for publishing auto repair manuals.
The story has influenced science fiction and fantasy ever since, and even gaming. It’s hard not to look at the classic 80’s rock-em-sock-em robot game Battletech and not feel some influence on its lore.
Duke Leto Atreides has been ordered by the Emperor to take possession of the planet Arrakis from the previous rulers, the Harkonnen. Arrakis is a harsh desert world that is the only source of “spice,” an incredibly valuable resource that, among its many other qualities, extends human life.
This is actually a plot devised by the Emperor, who sees House Atreides as a threat to his power. The handover is meant to set the Duke up for a sneak attack by House Harkonnen, who plan to wipe out their rivals completely and retake the planet stronger than before.
The true focus of the story, however, is on Leto’s heir, Paul. When the betrayal of House Atreides ultimately comes, he and his mother manage to escape to the unforgiving deserts of Arrakis, where their only hope lies in the people who dwell there, the Fremen.
But the stage was set long in advance for Paul to do more than simply become one of them. He will, in time, lead the Fremen into battle. But this “terrible purpose” haunts Paul, who foresees a bloody jihad that must be avoided at all costs…
Read on at: Noah Chinn Reviews: Dune by Frank Herbert