Dune

Paul Muad'Dib

I am, by admission, a big fan of Frank Herbert’s series Dune. I have heard people over the years say that they first turned to Dune when they were teenagers, and it kind of stuck with them ever since. I did not read a lot of science fiction when I was younger; I was more into Tolkien-clone fantasy books.

Late in 2005, a friend of mine got me hooked on what we called “old-school science fiction” and before long, I found myself reading the original Dune novel. The first time I read it, I had trouble following the pace and all the vocabulary, but I would find myself drawn to it again later. In my second reading, now that I knew the basic story, I really found myself appreciating the depth and thought that Herbert put into the Dune Universe, and that’s when I started to notice how he weaved religion deeply into the book.

Religion in science fiction is no new thing, but usually it’s something the writer may put together at the last moment, and feels two-dimensional. Watch a Star Trek episode, and you’ll see what I mean. But the Dune series has much deeper messages about the future of humanity, and the need to look beyond our petty world-view, and with his ability to synthesize the old religions and re-invent them, Herbert provides the religious types like me much food for thought.

A Guild Highliner from the 1984 Dune movie

I think it’s the religious side that makes me read the Dune series over and over again. Herbert grew up in a strongly Jesuit background, but one can feel him rebelling against a stodgy upbringing, and that resonates with people like me who grew up in one religion, converted to another, and have struggled all their adult lives with it. When someone wakes up from their everyday life and realizes that something’s not right, or that they begin to ask difficult questions, that’s the beginning of the true religious path. In essence, I believe Herbert is asking people to wake up from their daily routine and look much deeper into the nature of life itself.

Or, in the words of the Preacher from Children of Dune:

He repeated it in a rolling stentorian shout: “Abandon certainty! That’s life’s deepest command. That’s what life is all about…If certainty is knowing absolutely an absolute future, then that’s only death disguised…”

Here’s some memorable posts I wrote inspired by the Dune series of novels:

Author’s Note: The picture was a screenshot of the 1984 movie Dune, which I took on my Mac using VLC.

15 Responses to Dune

  1. Baekho says:

    Ah, the 1984 Dune….the best cast and the worst special effects out of all the movie versions I’ve seen ;)

    Dune is definitely my favorite science fiction book, and the religious overtones have a lot to do with it. I love the little quotes over each chapter in the books, too—they really add the sense of a “world”.

  2. Gerald Ford says:

    Dune 1984 really did have the best cast of any movie I’ve ever seen. I really liked every single character in there, but you’re right the special effects (Weirding Module!) were just silly. Actually I remember seeing it as a kid and loved the shields, even though are not that accurate to the book.

    The scenes such as the Guild Highliner above actually are pretty cool, simply for their artistic talent. There were some truly brilliant minds on the set of that movie. :)

    Yeah, I like the quotes too in Dune, though the later books start to weaken noticeably (Dune Heretics, Chapterhouse Dune).

  3. I commented on your other blog… heard my stomach growl fearcily… saw that you had a blog entitled “Dune” and instantly was like “aw s#@%… gotta read this.” Tummy be damned… I got into Dune when I was in middle school by way of the film. Loved it… loved Kyle…loved Sting.. and can quote it verbatum. THEN i read the book! man o man!!! I’m going to read this book to my newborn child ! I don’t think many would call me a nerd… but after reading that I made this comment… oh well… I’ll just live with it. Love your blogs by-the-way… I will be back. mmmmm….. Shai-Halluudddddd!

  4. Gerald Ford says:

    Thanks Michael. :) Yeah, I am a late Dun-a-tic, but I really do enjoy the series.

    Working in IT is nice because everyone around you has read the book too, so Dune quotes and Dune “inside jokes” are common here. :D

    I too saw the Dune movie when I was a young lad, and although I didn’t really get it, I really loved the sights and sounds (I thought the shields were awesome). Being older I appreciate it all the more so.

    P.S. Welcome to the L8B.

  5. Kyōshin says:

    Have you read any of R. Scott Bakker’s ‘Prince of Nothing’ fantasy series.? I just read the first one and he draws heavily on Herbert by his own admission but perhaps has a less dense writing style. Either way there’s lots of stuff about how people think and see the world like in Dune … cool stuff.

  6. Gerald Ford says:

    No, but it does sound interesting. Herbert’s style is kind of dense and in a way, he’s not really that talented a writer, but he makes up for it in imagination. Thrig, who frequents this blog, has read something else along these lines.

    It’s interesting to see how many writers now are influenced by Dune. :)

  7. N. Flin says:

    So, years ago I was in Washington visiting family. My cousin’s best friend was, unbeknown to me, apparently a “movie star.” At Thanksgiving dinner, my mother embarrassed this 13 year old by asking for his autograph, and a series of other cringe-worthy questions. The upshot of this was that the friend was Kyle McLaughlin, he had just completed filming for Dune and, best of all, introduced me to this wonderful series. I can fairly safely say that, over the five or six times that I have read the series, I learn more and more, and am almost never bored. Dune rocks. Thank you so much for your website. It is a nice place to visit during my work day.

  8. Gerald Ford says:

    Hi N. Flin: Welcome to the L8B. Let me just say to you: best…story…ever. :D Funny how you meet people like that, and never know they’re celebrities until someone tells you. Yeah, Dune the film is a love-it-or-hate-it file, and I happen to love it. The extended version is quite a bit better.

    Thanks very much for sharing. :D

  9. ChrisF says:

    Wow.
    I thought it was just me that related Dune to Buddhism!
    I have always thought of ‘The Litany of Fear’ from Dune when thoughts/distractions invade my mind as I’m trying to meditate. Of course I’ve changed it a bit for Buddhism, but I think that “…thoughts will pass through me and all that will remain is me …”.
    (p.s. the David Lynch movie wasn’t as good as the books, but the one on scifi channel was much better, as was the scifi channel imagining of Children of Dune).

  10. slingword says:

    Loved the books, hated the movie…..
    Slingword.

  11. Pingback: Creating New Worlds: Frank Herbert’s Dune « synkroniciti

  12. Love the books and the movie – David Lynch was able, in my opinion, to do the thing justice, he captured the essence of the book, a mystical, unpindownable thing that there is more to life and the universe than can be seen. The special effects need to be seen in the context of their time, admittedly a bit cringe-worthy at times. But there are so many archetypal themes in Dune: deep ecology, energy and balance etc. My favourite quote is ‘the sleeper must awaken’ – how Jungian! Enjoying the blog muchos, thanks, R.

  13. Doug 陀愚 says:

    Hi Roberta McDonnell and welcome. :) Yes, I agree, David Lynch did a great job given how difficult the material was. It really caught my imagination as a youngster.

  14. zachandclem says:

    Oh, you would get along FAMOUSLY with my fiance :p

  15. Pingback: Creating New Worlds: Frank Herbert’s Dune | synkroniciti

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