Dune is a science fiction novel by Frank Herbert, published in 1965, and the first book set in the Dune universe. After having seen the movie several times and loving it, I decided to finally read the book in the early 2000s, and found it even better.
I have a hardcover reprint and have read it. I've also listened to an audio book recording.
— This section contains spoilers! —
- Herbert goes into great detail with the culture, economy, religion, etc. of several different fictional races, and the climate and weather of the various planets. This really helps to give life to the Dune universe.
- The Bene Gesserit sisterhood is a shrewd blend of religion and politics making them a very interesting group. The Missionaria Protectiva, which spreads legends to cultures all over the galaxy, is especially ingenious.
- I enjoy all the techniques described where people have to slowly tease out all of the dishonesty from the royalty.
- Making a future where artificial intelligence is banned, and humans are trained to take up the role of computers is a clever idea.
- The quotes from various fictional books is a nice way to frame each chapter, even if it gives away the ending.
- The meshing of religions into the Orange Catholic Bible is an interesting expectation.
- The book thankfully has a few scenes where the women are powerful, Jessica is hardcore against Thufir and Alia is fearless against the emperor.
- There is a lot of detail about the ecology of Arrakis, the religion of the Fremen, and so forth. It made the planet seem very real in my mind.
- Spoiling Dr. Yueh's betrayal so early damages suspense that could have been built by keeping the traitor's identity unknown.
- I understand that the Emperor fears the Atreides will challenge his authority, and wants to eliminate them, but wiping them out and giving the Harkonnens a completely unchallenged authority over Arrakis just shifts the challenge to his authority to them.
- I can see how Dr. Yueh might become a traitor if he knew that his wife would be released, but the book says that he's pretty sure she was murdered. Why would he allow thousands to die and betray his closest friends even when he was doubtful that she was even alive?
- While I understand why the Fremen were fantastic at desert survival, I don't see how they would have become such an amazingly disciplined fighting force when there was no need. By bribing the guild, they can prevent anyone from trying to take them over, so there would be no need to have such militaristic discipline. They're so amazingly good at fighting that they can easily defeat the Emperor's Sardaukar, which are described as existing solely to be fanatical fighters.
- All the main female characters in the book seem to exist to help Paul. Jessica trains Paul, Chani protects Paul's children, the Princess Irulan writes about Paul's exploits, etc. They are strong women, but they don't get to show off much. Jessica is pretty bad ass in the first book, but becomes Paul's damsel in distress in book two, but thankfully becomes pretty hard for book three. Overall, the book is very male-centered, and becomes extremely misogynistic at the end, which I get is due to the Dune-universe being a patriarchy, but since it's Herbert universe, he didn't have to design it in such a manner.
- The spice Melange gives the eater prescience, but Herbert never gives an explaination for how this is possible in his otherwise non-magical universe.
- The book becomes a little boring in the third section, but picks up again at the end.
- "A popular man arouses the jealousy of the powerful."
- "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
- "Hope clouds observation."
- "The mystery of life isn't a problem to solve, but a reality to experience."
- "A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it."
- "Polish comes from the cities; wisdom from the desert."
- "Respect for the truth comes close to being the basis for all morality."
- "What do you despise? By this you are truly known."
- "The highest function of ecology is understanding consequences."
- "Science is made up of so many things that appear obvious after they are explained."
- "It's easier to be terrified by an enemy you admire."
- "Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic."