Hello boys and girls, today we are going to talk about Dune. For those of you asking yourself ‘What’s Dune’ or ‘What is this guy talking about?’ maybe even ‘Did he move to a desert?’….shoot yourself. Ok that was a little below the belt, that being said I am assuming most of you will be aware at least of the masterpiece that is Dune. Maybe you haven’t read it, but you will be aware of it.
So what is Dune? Yes it is a book and yes it is the first in a six book sci-fi series, but what ELSE is Dune? Well for one (correct at the time of writing) it is the best selling sci-fi book of all time, not many books can say that for themselves. It is also one man’s last ditch attempt to get published. The legend goes that there was no publisher willing to take on Dune as it was too long, too grand, too different. Then a small automotive book publisher said ‘yeah, why not’ and since then every other publishing house has probably been kicking themselves.
First released in 1966, Dune is truly a work of science fiction genius that, in my limited view, is yet to be rivalled by ANY other book in the same category. I will start with a brief sort of summary/review and my thoughts trying to steer clear of any spoilers. If I DO add any spoilers they will be towards the end and preceded by a warning. (But seriously if you haven’t read it…what are you still doing here? Go read it and then you can have you own opinion.)
Dune is complete at just over 528 pages in its 50th anniversary edition paperback reprint. It is by no means a short or easy read, but it is certainly worth the work. At it’s heart Dune is a story about a boy who has to become a man. Along his way he will see tragedy, love, war, defeat, victory, death, power…and maybe even the future. Born into a long unfolding prophecy, a strange chain of events thrusts him towards its centre with only one way out. He must accept his ‘fate’ and kick some serious ass.
A lot of people draw many things from the subtext of this book, things about past political situations with middle eastern countries. Environmental concerns, even in some peoples thoughts drug induced brain farts for inspiration. Above all else though, this book is a boys wet dream in novel form. A boy of 15 is essentially made out to be a God…he gets to fight, have essentially any woman of his choosing and ultimately *I cannot say because I promised no spoilers* something even cooler than all of that.
The first third of the book is largely scene setting and isn’t all that fast, but that’s ok in my opinion. Some books need that and this is one of those books. There are three major houses (not dissimilar to GOT in that regard) that we need to get to know. There are rules of the universe, reasons why technology has gone the way it has, reasons why war is fought the way it is. The spice needs to be explained, the prophecy needs some groundwork. Yes the opening isn’t jet fuelled adrenaline on speed, but it is needed. Once you get past this chunk you are rewarded. Not long after the Atredies family arrive on their new home of Arrakis the shit hits the fan and it is all guns blazing until the conclusion.
I have read the entire series and I would recommend that any fan of sci-fi epics does the same. If you cannot stomach a long series though, I would at least suggest you REALLY consider reading Dune as a standalone. Because of the series structure, with the possible exception of book two, you really can view this as a simply fantastic stand alone sci-fi war novel. Attach the rest of the series and it becomes a millennia spanning space opera of epic proportions.
I cannot put into words exactly WHAT I enjoyed so much about this book, but I did, and I think most of you would too. To paraphrase one of the characters of the lost boys ‘How can twenty billion sci-fi readers be wrong Michael?’