Dune by Frank Herbert

There are some novels that are considered extremely important and influential, but mainly within a certain genre. Dune is one of them (in the case of the epic science fiction genre), and now that I have read it I can understand why.

At some point in the very distant future, a substance called melange (or just “spice”) is utterly important not only beacuse it extends life of humans but also because it is required for safe interstellar navigation. The only source of this substance is a planet called Arrakis (or “Dune”), an extremely dry desert planet. The story begins when duke Leto Atreides by the emperor has been assigned to take over the rulership of Arrakis after the House of Harkonnen, who are not willing to lose control of the melange trade. Leto moves to the planet with his official concubine Lady Jessica and their son Paul. Soon thereafter the Harkonnens attack and Paul and Jessica have to flee into the desert, and they have to face the forgotten factor in all this: the locals.

There are many reasons that I should would not like to read Dune. For instance, I have already seen two filmed versions of the story removing a lot of the tension in the story, every chapter begins with some excerpts from chronicles consistently indicating how the story will conclude and thus further remove tension, and the story leans extremely strong on the concept of a “chosen one”. However, the book works for me anyway because it is written in a clever way. As a reader, I am not familiar in how the book universe works in political, scientific, and cultural ways, but it doesn’t matter much, because the people in the book are themselves entering a whole planet they don’t know how it works. There is a lot of scheming in the book, often on the highest political levels, but also descriptions of how the schemers perceive the scheming and their analysis of the reactions of their counterparts. The book is thus rather instructional in how to navigate through the upper echelons of the far future society. That may be a convenient skill to honour for later.

There are also, of course, many names and concepts present in the book that is hard for an unexperienced reader in the genre to keep track of. And I am such a reader. It didn’t stop me from enjoying the book, but I feel hesitant to ready any of the numerous sequels or prequels that also exist.

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