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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

“Dune”, by Frank Herbert

533 pages, Berkley Medallion, ISBN-13: 978-0425080023

I first read Dune (and the whole series for that matter) several years ago. While the first book is the best known and the best written of the series, don’t let that stop you from reading all of the sequels, as well. Like all good SciFi, it presents you the customs and attitudes of the present in completely different surroundings that seems to come out of present day situations. Dune is a complex and fascinating novel. At first glance, it seems to be simply a very imaginative adventure story – and it’s a great read even if that's all you ever get out of it. However, Dune is much more than just an adventure; it’s an analogy, from a writer who was very concerned with ecological issues, for societal over-dependence on a single substance and the ways such dependence skews the structure and character of that society. The value of a commodity is directly related to its abundance: here, water covers 2/3rds of the planet, but how much more value would it hold for us if it were as hard to get as gold or oil? Dune shows us just what life might be like in such a place. Furthermore, the Dune series devotes considerable attention to exploring the messianic dilemma. As you venture through the six-book series, this theme becomes a central issue, the seeds of which, naturally, are sown by Paul Muad’Dib on Dune. 

These are the levels upon which Dune can be read that occur after only a few readings of the book. Dune is one of those rare reading experiences that improves each time you return to it: very subsequent journey – as it can only be called – through the Universe that includes Arrakis, Dune, desert planet, yields a richer, more satisfying experience. Dune, simply put, is the premier example of the speculative fiction genre.

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