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Friday, January 28, 2005

cover of Dune

One of the great classics of science fiction, a book that has inspired two different movie versions-- this book lives up to the hype. With Dune, Herbert created an entire space-faring society with all the intricacies of real history, politics, and war. There are plenty of memorable, fascinating characters, along with many fascinating ideas about what makes good leaders, soldiers and strategies, and the interaction of fate, prophecy, and being able to see the future. And, of course, the planet Dune itself, with the strange worms and mysterious Fremen, and the powerful spice... all are compelling, at least to my imagination.

The Bene Gesserit are a fascinating creation-- trained women with an incredibly long-range plan to influence society, women who are taught to control themselves to the utmost degree, and who are willing to use their bodies when necessary to advance the Bene Gesserit cause. (Pity the woman who had to seduce the Baron Harkonnen before his tastes devolved completely away from females...) I find the Princess Irulan a particularly interesting character; we get to know her through her writings before we know her fate, since many of the chapters are prefaced with lines from her texts. She is forced into her eventual fate in part because of her Bene Gesserit training; it seems to me that she thinks very highly of Paul Muad'Dib, in spite of the fact that he deposes her father, and could even love him-- but because of his love for Chani, and consequent harshness towards her, nothing can ever come of it.

One of the more interesting things about Dune is the ambiguity about prophecy-- there are plenty of statements made by the Fremen about Paul when they first meet him, but Jessica seems certain (at least, at the beginning) that they are merely taking advantage of prophecies planted by the Bene Gesserit for their protection in an emergency such as this-- although there is clearly much more going on among the Fremen of Arrakis.

Dune is a powerful, intricate book that is worth reading and even re-reading. There is an incredible wealth of ideas contained in this one book.

Author:Frank Herbert
Date published:1965
Genre:Science Fiction
Series:Dune Chronicles
Number of pages:533
Notes:Second reading.


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