Saturday, January 28, 2023

Dune by Frank Herbert

This won’t be a real review as I can’t imagine I have anything to offer that hasn’t already been said by millions of fans worldwide. 

For me, this is a rare re-read. I first read Dune back when I was a teenager. I read it because my older brother had read it and I pretty much did everything he did. I remember him talking about the sandworms and about life on a desert planet where water (or moisture) was in such short supply that residents had to wear body suits that captured and recycled their own body sweat. In fact, that is really about all I remember from my own first read way back then, nearly 40 years ago.

I’ve known for many years that I’ve wanted to re-read Dune. I was simply too young back then to appreciate it. As a lifelong science fiction fan, I felt it necessary to re-visit this classic, often considered the greatest in the history of the genre. It is to science fiction what The Lord of the Rings is to fantasy. Not only did it win the Hugo award in 1966, it also won the very first Nebula award for best novel. It is considered a landmark of “soft” science fiction rather than the typical novel of the time that relied heavily on technology. Reportedly, Herbert deliberately down-played technology in his Dune universe so he could write about the politics of humanity, as opposed to the future of humanity's technology. 

Now having completed my second read through of this classic I almost hesitate to call it science fiction. There are any number of classic fantasy themes and in fact I would almost call it mythological. I have not read any of the sequels and am not sure that I will as I understand the character of Paul Atreides undergoes further transformation, not all of which is admirable. 

I’ve long had this on my incredibly short list of novels to re-read, a true rarity for me. I kept telling myself that “one day” I would finally do it. Well, “one day” finally arrived and I am so very glad I took this journey once again.

Highly recommended for all three of you out there who haven’t read it yet.

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