Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Monday, June 12, 2017

Dune by Frank Herbert (1965, 835 pages)

Is Dune The Greatest Work of Science Fiction of all time?  What are your choices for this?

I last read Dune by Frank Herbert in 1967 (1920 to 1986). I  had no plans to reread Dune but I received notice in an E book bargains newsletter to which I subscribe that the Kindle edition was marked down temporarily to $1.95.  I remembered that I totally loved it in the long ago, I knew many consider it the greatest Science Fiction novel of all time, plus I wanted to see if I would still love Dune, so I bought the book. I saw a movie based on Dune directed by David Lynch 33 years ago.

Dune is set far in the future, the planets of the known universe are each ruled by a royal house.  Rulership is structured like European royalty.  At the head of the universe is an emperor, each of the royal houses are involved in continual power struggles with each other.  The novel centers on the rise to power of Paul Atreides, son of Duke Leto head of house Atreides and his concubine Jessica, a Bene Gesserit.

I decided not to do much of a synopsis of the plot (Wikipedia has a decent one).

The emperor has decided to give house Atreides control over the planet Dune.  Dune is a desert planet, with no rain, Life revolves around water.  Dune is of great importance as only there can a spice that prolongs life and allows space to be navigated be found.

Just a handful of spice can buy a house on other worlds.  Dune was previously controlled by the house Harkoonnen, long blood enemies of the Atreides.  The duke suspects this is a trick by the emperor to destroy his house.

The plot is intricate and fascinating, Herbert goes into great detail about the religion and beliefs of those in the story.  It is a very "ecological" work, we are constantly aware of the power of water.  On Dune there are huge worms, some up to 400 meters.  They are integral to the production of spice.

I really enjoyed this reread, I was happy to see I could recall a lot of the book.

There are five sequels to Dune, some by Frank Herbert, some by others after his death.  I have not read any of these.  If you have, please leave some feedback.

Mel u


Fred said...

Mel u,

I don't know if _Dune_ is the greatest SF novel of all time, but it must certainly be considered if one sets out to rank SF novels.

I have read all of the Dune sequels written by Frank Herbert, and none of those written by his son and others.

Herbert's sequels are not at the level of _Dune_, but very few SF novels are even close to _Dune_, so that's not saying much at all.

I thought the sixth book, _Chapterhouse: Dune_, was the best of the sequels, even though the ending was a bit abrupt.

I was disappointed by the films, but I shouldn't have been. The novel is too massive to be handled in a few hours. It should have been a yearlong series. That would have provided sufficient time for a decent treatment of the book.

Mudpuddle said...

i thought it was a terrific book and i also liked the movie... haven't read any of the sequels. as to the best ever sci fi, i'm not qualified to comment, but i can think of several others that might achieve that rank... i'm a particular fan of Gene Wolfe; also Jack Vance... and i guess i'd place some of their works above Dune....

Fred said...


Gene Wolfe is one of my must read SF authors. I've read many of his works, and he's on my catch-up list.

Buried In Print said...

This was required reading in an elective course I had on sci-fi and fantasy, along with John Brunner, John Gardner, Ursula K. LeGuin, H.G. Wells, and a bunch of short stories. Like you, I haven't thought of rereading it, but I can see where it might be fun to do so. Will be interested in your thoughts on the series if you do decide to read on.

Mel u said...

Fred, thanks for sharing your experience. I will have to ponder reading the sequels. There is so much out there. I'm long out of touch with science and fantasy fiction. I can feel an urge to read the best in the field since Dune.

Mel u said...

Mudpuddle. I will for sure check out Jack Vance and Gene Wolfe. Thanks as always for your comments

Mel u said...

Buried in Print. Thanks for sharing with us your course reading list. Your comments help keep me going