Dune is one of the most popular novels in the history of
science fiction. It has spawned two film versions, a host of sequels, a fake
encyclopedia, and several video games. It was originally published in two
pieces, each of them serialized in Analog (as Astounding Science
Fiction was renamed in the 1960s, still with Campbell as editor).
Published in 1965, it won both Hugo and Nebula awards. Thirty six years on, its
popularity shows little sign of waning.
The whole business of who is really related to whom gets
a little tricky here. Draw a family tree for the Atreides and Harkonnen
characters as you read -- we'll go over it in class, which will make
Herbert gives his future world some very advanced
technology, but deploys it in a very distinctive way. What is distinctive
here, and why do you think he wants to do it. How does his use of technology
differ from that of writers like Heinlein and Bester?
What kind of role do women enjoy in this future? What
power do they enjoy, and how do they gain it?
Herbert borrows from an amazingly broad range of
different sources here. As you read the book, be on the lookout for echoes of
other characters and kinds of story. In turn, it has influenced many later
stories. Make a list of both, and be ready to discuss them in class.
Herbert's story integrates a large number of different
themes (religion, politics, adventure, ecology) and nowhere is this clearer
than in the character of Paul himself. What different roles does he play
during the course of the book? To what extent is he in control of the
historical events he triggers? How does Herbert feel about heroes and power?
This is the first book we have read from the 1960s. While
the book is set in the distant future, some of its concerns mirror those of
the time in which it was written. To what extent, and in what ways, was it a
product of its time?
|David Lynch filmed Dune -- the results were pretty but (apparently due to
studio pressure for a short film) almost entirely impossible to follow. So
don't try watching the film instead of reading the book!|
|The Sci-Fi Channel did a mini-series
version, which I hear is longer, more faithful but a little plodding.|
|Frank Herbert wrote five further Dune books. Dune Messiah and
Children of Dune -- the next two -- are weaker than the original but worth
considering. I'd advise you to skip the final three, and some recent
posthumous sequels by his son. Hellstrom's Hive and The Dosadi
Experiment are the most interesting of his other books -- both deal with
non-human societies and intelligence.|
|The Clute & Nichols entries on Herbert, Messiah, Ecology and Planetary
Romance are important here.|