Monday, January 19, 2009

Book Review: Frank Herbert - Dune (1965)

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For a new campaign let’s start with a new series…

I first read Dune in eight grade when my dad bought it for me. At the time I didn’t know the novel had won the Hugo and Nebula Awards and I hadn’t read anything by Frank Herbert before. It was all new to me. From the first reading I was sold. Dune became my favorite SF book, hell, favorite book all together, and it turned me into a major SF fan. So I guess Mr. Herbert gets the blame for it, or all the prizes, depends on how you look at it.

Imagine an Empire spread although the entire known universe. In this Empire imagine one

little planet that holds the key to the life as we know it. Dune. Or Arrakis as the indigene population calls it. A planet covered in sand, hiding an immense treasure in its depth. The Spice. The spice mélange is the energy that fuels all activities in this universe. It prolongs lives delaying aging and it enhances prescient awareness. Without it there would be no space travel.

In such circumstances the one who controls the spice controls everything, and in this case the Emperor Shaddam IV does. Laws prohibit the storage of spice and he has control over Arrakis so his position is secure. But there’s another major House that is making a powerful impression on the political scene. Duke Leto Atreides is highly respected by the other Great Houses and his fighting force is close to competing with Emperor’s Sardaukars. To top it all the Duke is a distant cousin of Shaddam and therefore first in line to the throne. Of course the Emperor is worried, he put too much work into getting to that throne to let Leto have it, regardless the fact that Duke Leto is well-known for his justice and loyalty and would do no such thing.

It’s time to setup a trap. House Atreides is awarded the honor to supervise the production of spice on Arrakis, a fief until then run by the Harkonnens, the long time enemies of the Atreides. Following the Emperor’s orders Duke Leto is forced to leave his home planet, the green Caladan, and move to Arrakis along with his concubine, Jessica, teenage son, Paul, and entire house. The wheels are spinning.

Fighting and ditching intricate plots we witness Paul’s raise to power in an environment where everything from nature to people seems to be working against him. The planet itself is used as a device to make a statement concerning the ecological threats, this being considered one of the first majors attempts made by a fiction writer to infuse his ecological views into his work.

The story ends leaving plenty of room for the novels to come. It is in fact the story of young Paul Atreides, following the path led by his father who also lost his father while very young and going far beyond that. We see the circumstances and reasons that led to major changes in the known and unknown future, in a world ruled by complicated political plots and strong and complex characters we do not wish to part with.

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Written for Nemira Fan SF campaign:

“Aceasta recenzie face parte din campania Fan SF”

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