DATE: Thu 04 Nov 2021 20:32 By: HexDSL@Posteo.net

Dune.

Book: Dune
Series: Dune (Series 1)
Written by: Frank Herbert

As much as this is out of character for me I am going to try and keep this brief. The reason is that there is no way anyone hasn’t heard of this book and most people who give a shit will have already read it, or bounced on it already.

I tried to read Dune once before, in the late 90’s. I hated it. It was verbose and complex and didn’t at all feel like actual science fiction. I had a friend who loved it but I simply couldn’t take to it.

I stopped maybe a quarter of the way in and didn’t really give it much more thought. Oddly, I did enjoy the 1984 movie, even though it was hot, insane garbage. I just like hot garbage; make of that what you will. Its a glorious mess and I love it!

Recently I saw the new 2021 Dune movie and LOVED it. I was blown away by how good it was and resolved to read the book finally. I started the same evening.

A week or so later I’m done. What a ride. The book is wonderful! It in no small way inspired many things I love and I now realise that it had quite a real impact on all the science fiction that followed.

What is it?

For the few who don’t know, Dune is a story of empire and power, of legend and hope. It’s got complex characters and it all revolves around a sand covered planet and a rare spice that allows the human mind to go beyond its limits.

It is at this point somewhat legendary in its influence.

The Good.

Okay so Dune is good. Its really good but the things that stuck out at me at especially good were the following.

Setting: The setting of the most boring place imaginable being used to birth a complex and interesting story was great. I feel like it was something of a shortcut too. Just say ‘sand’ and no one needs that explaining. But then explaining how and what it means to live in such a place and how the oppression of the world its self is a constant problem. Its just interesting as soon as the exposition started I was hooked.

Characters: At the start of the book there are characters who are fascinating and deep, instantly likable and complex. The villain has a motivation that takes time to understand. While the enemy is obviously bad its a cultural issue and its superbly done.

Culture: Speaking of cultural issues. The culture of space-feudalism is just wonderful and is not over-played at all in the book. It’s a backdrop that I adored and made perfect sense within this story.

Lore: There simply isn’t a book out there that does lore as well as Dune. It is complex and understated and done in a way that peppers the reader with ideas. It then frames those ideas with context. You get an impression of wider story without actually having to be told about it. masterful!

The Bad

It’s not all perfect. There are some issues and some things that could have been better. That said, his is a point of view an a preference thing. He reality is that this book has lasted the test of time and is still considered to be a work of genius. My opinions of whats wrong with it are just that.

Pacing: Dune is a science fiction work that is paced like a fantasy novel most the time but then suddenly its paced like a political thriller for a bit. It has a massive slow patch in the middle then suddenly gets real fast. Its like a roller-coaster. It would have been better as a slow drive down a nice hill.

Women: Dune has a good amount of strong women. Like many science fiction stories of the era though those strong women are all generically strong. They are somewhat modular and could be swapped around without you noticing. Its actually sad because its SO close to being well done. It just fails at the last hurdle.

Complexity: I loved how complex it was. It’s wonderful and has too many moving parts. Even though I’m someone who basks in this kind of narrative, even I felt like there were too parts to keep track of. It almost crumbles under its own weight and I think a lot of it wasn’t really required.

Who; what; why; when?: There are great portions of the book where some characters are missing completely. It feel like they were forgotten about and then remembered later and Frank went “They were busy!” and moved on. It actually annoyed me a great deal.

11th hour character creation: Our hero has a son at one point, we never see the lad. He is spoken about without ever appearing directly. He has a sister who appears and is forgotten, then is a big deal at the then in a scene that feels oddly shoehorned. Do no introduce characters who are not 100% required. Especially when your story is already this complex!

Princess who?: Each chapter is headed by notes from the princess Irulan. Who appears in the book for one scene at the end. I know what mr Herbert was doing. He was using it as lore-pepper in the same way the Encyclopedia Galactica was in Asimov’s Foundation. I wanted more from the princess. He was actually interesting and intelligent sounding. But so abstracted that I couldn’t care.

Overall.

Honestly overall I really enjoyed it. Despite its issues is something that is uniquely its-self. While many have copied and followed it since its release, it is a work that stands alone and does so with the same pride it is written with. Dune is oddly regal in its form and execution in a way that matches its topic. I liked that.

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