inasrullah, December 16, 2012 (view all comments by inasrullah)
I read Dune for the first time in high school back in 1982, and it left an indelible and magical imprint on me. I gobbled the book up in three days and then proceeded through the entire series at the time. Now after thirty years, I have come back to re-read Dune, but with a completely different perspective - perhaps that is the point of age - and while the magic is gone, it is still a tremendous book. In fact the book is damn near prescient. The books asks me to consider some interesting and worrisome phenomenon. At the level of geopolitics, we root for Paul Muad'Dib as the youth born of privilege immersed into a desert culture of ascetism, and rails against an empire married to corporate rapaciousness, and then sets to conquer it through a Jihad. At the time the book was written, people claimed the book was loosely based on the life of Prophet Muhammed, which - as a Muslim made me feel proud - seems pretty obvious. Now 30 years later, we witnessed the emergence of Usama Bin Laden, his reign of terror, our War on Terror and his ultimate demise, and Dune means something different. It asks me to root for our protagonist Paul, who actually mirrors the life and times of UBL; recall UBL was the very rich son of a Yemeni Industrialist, eschews his life of privilege for one of asceticism and adopts an extreme anti-Imperial and anti-Western (corporate) ideology. He creates a following of extremists bent on over-throwing the US and its interests - much like Paul finally taking on Emperor Shaddam IV. Obviously, I believe UBL was an abomination and a scourge on humanity and I glad he got what he deserved. But the similarities to me are remarkable. In reality we root for our Emperor, CHOAM, and our Sardakaur troops as they fought in Iraq and Afganistan, hoping they would kill UBL, but was he Paul? What does Paul actually stand for in Dune? How is that different from now?
But Dune is also about humanity's evolutionary future, and what the human mind will become. In the Dune universe, the multi-generational selective breeding of the Bene Gesserit creates the Kwisatz Haderach - the male counterpart to a reverend mother - who can look into the past through humanity's germline to see the long view of history, and has the ability to see through time into the future. Paul represents the full potential of the human mind. Seeing physical reality as the past, present and future as one - like Einstein's block universe - Paul ties it all together. Humanity has achieved the omega point. Humanity has reached God-hood. Again, reading Dune 30 years later since I was a teenager, so much has happened that makes Dune seem prescient. At the time Dune was written, there was no real biotechnology (at least it was still embryonic) - PCR, cell line modelling, genetically engineered mammals, gene based therapy, anti-body therapy - and so we did not know that every human being can be traced back genetically through genes found in mitochondria of women only. We did not have in essence, Tleilaxu tanks to clone humans from genetic remnants (we are still not quite there yet for more ethical reasons than anything else, but the technology is there) and stem cell therapy was unknown. Yet Dune speaks to it through its story telling. Some of its ideas may seem antiquated now thirty years later, but so much more of it is truly prescient.
leslieluvzbooks, August 4, 2012 (view all comments by leslieluvzbooks)
An extremely intense book! Herbert's masterpiece makes you feel like you're reading a tale from ancient history, so thorough are his details, from the locations of the planets to the description of the kinds of clothes they wear, based on the climate they live in! An adventure that will leave you awestruck and pensive for a long time afterwards!
dial m for moniker, September 22, 2011 (view all comments by dial m for moniker)
This is the first, and one of the only, sci-fi books I've read. It was given to me, along with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by a friend from H.S. who told me that both books were absolutely essential reading. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Dune. It's got spice.
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Marlene Harris, September 22, 2011 (view all comments by Marlene Harris)
Dune is marvelous. Not because it's a classic, but because it's a fantastic story that grabs you from beginning to end. I still have my original copy from way back. The story still sings. Paul is a hero for the ages, and Frank Herbert created an entire universe with incredible depth. Forget anything you might have heard about the early sequels (please!) and don't even think about the movies (never judge a book by its movie). Just read this book.
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Susan Mahaffey, September 22, 2011 (view all comments by Susan Mahaffey)
This is an excellent book. It is a must read. There was a movie of Dune which sadly was a very poor representation of this novel. The story held my attention from the very first page and made me a science fiction fan for life. It is written in such a way that I found it hard to put down. This is not a boring book!
It is a book that I think everyone should read as I think that it is a novel that will expand your mind to think of life differently!
ACE Charter -
I'm sure other Powell's employees have chosen Dune as a staff pick, and for good reason: It's a science fiction classic. It is densely written and almost prophetic in nature. The spice, and the desert wars over it, sound so very much like our current situation regarding oil in the Middle East. Tinged with the supernatural, filled with believable characters, and laced with the very spice it is about, this book is an unparalleled work of science fiction. Herbert manages to create a whole new and possible galaxy. The only thing holding Dune back from "graduating" to the literature sections of bookstores is that it is too much a science fiction novel, though I feel it is as well written as any piece of great literature. I recommend this to any and all readers (even those who despise science fiction). I believe it should fall into the same category as 1984, The Great Gatsby, or To Kill a Mockingbird: a classic.
by The Washington Post,
"A portrayal of an alien society more complete and deeply detailed than any other author in the field has managed...a story absorbing equally for its action and philosophical vistas...An astonishing science fiction phenomenon."
by Arthur C. Clarke,
"Unique...I know nothing comparable to it except Lord of the Rings."
by Chicago Tribune,
"One of the monuments of modern science fiction."
by Robert A. Heinlein,
"Powerful, convincing, and most ingenious."
Paul Atreides moves with his family to the planet Dune and is forced into exile when his father's government is overthrown. The first book in the series.
Here is the novel that will be forever considered a triumph of the imagination. Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Muad'Dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family--and would bring to fruition humankind's most ancient and unattainable dream.
A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what it undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and eBooks — here at Powells.com.