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Dune

Author: Frank Herbert
Date Read: Jul 2000

Synopsis:

Dune, a science fiction novel, takes place on the desert planet Arrakis. Paul Atreides and his family are feuding with their Harkonnen enemies, and Paul must find a way to lead his people to freedom.

Frank Herbert's Hugo and Nebula award winning novel includes politics, economics, ecology, and heroism. It is a must-read for any science fiction aficionado and an epic science fiction classic.

Dune is the first book in a large series: it has seven sequels and six prequels.

(For more information, including spoilers, go to the DUNE appendage of this site.)



Comments/reviews

Dune is my favorite book!
I love Dune! I read Dune when I was a Junior in high school. I loved it so much that I read three of the sequels to it shortly thereafter. My friend, Caleb, and I convinced my mom (Jolene) to make the book club read Dune, but she only agreed to do so if we would perform our rendition of The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe the month before. It turns out, to mine and Caleb's dismay, that not many of the book club members enjoyed reading it :(

There are many reasons that Dune facinates me:

First, unlike many science fiction novels, Dune isn't based on great advances in technology. Instead, civilization has developed different "schools" where the humand mind and body are trained and honed to produce specialized and advanced people: the mentats have logical minds that can process information like a computer; the bene gesserit have total control over their bodies and pay close attention to minute detail; the swordsmasters are trained warriors that have superb fighting skills; the guild navigators are prescient and can see ahead in space and time; and the Suk doctors are trained in advanced medicine and conditioned to be loyal. The way that Frank Herbert describes the thoughts and actions of the different individuals helps one to grasp what the human race could be capable of.

Frank Herbert also goes into deep detail about political, economic, and ecological conflicts. The whole Dune universe is dependent on the spice melange, a spice that's addictive but also beneficial for those who consume it. Arrakis is desolate, but the control of it is vital to anyone who wants to have power. This leads to power struggles between competing interests.

Finally, I love Dune because of its classic "good versus evil" story. Paul Atreides comes from a noble family whose defining characteristic is integrity. The Harkonnens on the other hand, are based on treachery, revenge, and deceit. In between, in the grey areas, are the emperor, the Bene Gesserit, and several other parties. Paul is basically a messiah to the Fremen, the desert people, and leads them from obscurity to freedom from Harkonen and imperial opression.

I think that Dune is the best science fiction book of all time. It is a must read for any sci-fi afficionado, and for those who may not be interested in science fiction, but want to know what sci-fi is all about.
(Submitted by blake)

Dune Symbolism
This was a paper about Dune written by a friend in high school:

Some consider Frank Herbert's novel Dune as Science Fiction's supreme masterpiece. The book is set on the desert planet of Arrakis, commonly known as Dune, where a fifteen year old boy named Paul Atreides becomes the mysterious Muad'Dib. While on Dune, Paul discovers a plot has been turned against him and his family by the Padishah Emperor and House Harkonnen. In his quest for revenge and justice, Paul joins forces with the natives of Dune, Fremen. As the story unfolds, Paul matures into the long prophesied Kwisatz Haderach, whose superior mental powers would bridge space and time. Much of Paul's life can be compared to the life Christ lived: helping others, fulfilling prophecy after prophecy, and in the end saving his people. Paul is indeed a Christ-like figure, and Frank Herbert uses the life of Christ as a symbolic guide to the life that Paul Atreides leads in Dune.

Frank Herbert admitted that he purposely developed a Christ-like character for his novel Dune, "It began with the concept: to do a long novel about the Messianic convulsions which periodically inflict themselves on human societies." (qtd. in O'Reilly 42) It is easy to see that Paul is a Messianic figure from the heroic way he lives his life in Dune. Tim O'Reilly wrote: "Paul Atreides, the hero of Dune, is not merely a prophet, but a here and now Messiah with more than a visionary dream with which to inspire." (O'Reilly 45)

Beginning with the birth of Paul, it is known that his mom, Jessica, is a Bene Gesserit. The Bene Gesserit are a group of people, primarily female, that have such superior mental powers that they can absolutely control their bodies. For example, they could choose the sex they wished their child to be while conceiving. The long prophesied Kwisatz Haderach would be a son of a Bene Gesserit, and Jessica knew this. Jessica, also knowing Paul's father Leto, who she was concubine to, preferred to have a son, and also with this hope of bearing the Kwisatz Haderach, chose to conceive a male baby even though she was ordered by the Bene Gesserit to bear a daughter. This is somewhat similar when the angel Gabriel came to Mary to inform her she would bear a son. Mary was not married when she learned of this, just as Paul's mother is not married. The child was male and was born due to a supernatural power. Also, the child's name was already chosen to be Jesus, as Paul's would change to Muad'Dib, each of these fulfilling a prophecy. When Paul and his family move to Arrakis, immediately there is an attempted assassination at his life. When Christ was born, the King wasn't exactly thrilled. He said, ".go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again that I may come and worship him also." (Matthew 2:8)

As it turns out, his motives were to kill the young child. Also, looking at the location of the novel it is easy to see similarities between where Paul and Christ lived. Arrakis, a desert planet is the main setting of Dune. Jesus Christ's ministry was mainly set in the desert area of the Middle East. That can be tied into the story of Dune and Herbert's purpose of creating a Messianic Character. Another [strength of Dune] is in Herbert's attention to mechanism's by which religious and political 'greatness' are achieved. The imaginary sands of dune owe a good deal to the sands of Arabia.the semitic geography for producing prophets and mystics. Paul Attreides, who becomes the religious leader Muad'Dib, finds himself cast in the role of a prophet. (Scholes 276)

When you taking into account the prophecies in Dune, it can be seen that they, in a way, relate to the prophecies of Christ. In the Bible, The Book of Isaiah is full of prophecies of Jesus Christ coming to save his people. Throughout Dune, many prophecies are revealed to about the Kwisatz Haderach. This is shown when Paul and his father arrive on Arrakis for the first time and meet Dr. Kynes. Kynes quotes the Legend many times throughout the book, but here he says, ".and they will greet you with holy words and your gift will be a blessing". (Herbert 108) Another example is when Paul flawlessly puts on a stillsuit for the first time. The stillsuit is a device that refines your sweat and urine into water to make survival easier in the desert. This is considered to be a very complicated process, and when Kynes sees Paul is wearing his stillsuit perfectly, he asks where he learned to do this. Paul replied, "It seemed the right way." At that moment a quote from the Prophecy went through Kynes' mind, ".and he shall know your ways as if he was born to them." (Herbert 110) In the Bible, Christ quickly adapted to life in the same way, teaching priests and scholars at the young age of twelve. ".and all that heard him were astonished at his answers." (Luke 2:47) Another similar aspect is betrayal. When Christ was speaking with his deciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas came with a mob that bound him and took him away. Judas was a disciple, and therefore trusted. In Dune, Paul and his family are betrayed by Dr. Yueh, a trusted family servant. Yueh turned Paul and his family over to their bitter enemies, the Harkonnens, to be killed. Yueh was considered one of the most trusted of Duke Leto's officers, and he still betrayed the family. Judas, as a disciple, was also considered to be a trusted servant, but he still betrayed Christ.

Finally, Christ was sent to save his people from sin. Paul came to Arrakis and became a Messianic figure to the Fremen. He joins forces with them, teaching them his ways, and leads them in a victorious battle over the Harkonnens and Padishah Emperor. As the Kwisatz Haderach, he did indeed save his people, just as Christ saved his people. There are also similarities in looking at the many names of the Messianic figures. Jesus Christ was the man with many names, commonly referred to as the Good Shepherd, Emmanuel, Savior, Redeemer, and God. Paul was called Muad'Dib, Kwisatz Haderach, Mahdi, Lisan, Al'Gaib, and God. Paul's character definitely symbolizes a Christ-like figure. He lived his life the same way Christ did: helping others, fulfilling prophecy after prophecy, and in the end saving his people.

(Submitted by blake)



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