Let’s talk about Dune. No, I’m not talking about the new Timothee Chalamet movie, although I will be covering it a little later on. I’m talking about the book by Frank Herbert from 1965. The book that started all the adaptations, the 1984 movie, the 2000 & 2003 mini-series, and the two part Dune movies starting in 2021, which we will also cover a little bit. Frank Herbert published the original Dune novel in 1965, and wrote five sequels before his death in 1985. His son, Brian Herbert, found his father’s notes of a continuation of the novels, and in 1999 with the help of author Kevin J. Anderson, the Dune prequels came out.
Dune is a bit of a challenge to get through, at least for me it was. It’s not a small novel. I have attempted to read it a total of three times, which I finally finished it on the third. It’s not that I had a hard time getting through it; it’s that every time I started it in the past, I was in school and couldn’t focus like I wanted to. Honestly, I wish there was a class that would have made us read it, if you don’t know I was an English major in school and read a lot of Sci-Fi books in different classes, but was never able to pick apart Dune. So, with the new movie coming up, I decided it was finally time to tackle it, and I did. It took me some time, and I haven’t read the sequels presently, but the first book was just as good as I thought it would be. There is a reason it’s considered a classic.
Dune is about a young prince, Paul Atreides of House Atreides. His father is tasked by the Emperor to be the ruler of the planet, Arrakis. Arrakis is a harsh and inhospitable desert planet, but is a huge importance as it is the only source of “spice.” “Spice” a unique and incredibly valuable substance that extends human youth, vitality and lifespan. The Emperor believes that House Atreides will become a rival in the future, so he reaches an understanding with House Harkonnen, who is currently in charge of harvesting the spice on Arrakis. The pact was for Harkonnen to destroy House Atreides. Leto, Paul’s father and leader of their house, knows that his assignment to Arrakis is a trap of some kind, but refusal would mean fleeing and becoming a renegade of the Empire. Does any of this sound familiar? If you’re thinking of Star Wars, there’s a reason for that. Dune was an inspiration of George Lucas’ when he wrote the original Star Wars.
Paul was trained in the art of war since he was young and his mother, Lady Jessica, who is a member of the Bene Gesserit, an exclusively female group that pursues mysterious political aims and wields seemingly superhuman physical and mental abilities. His mother taught him in the ways of Bene Gesserit disciplines, so Paul is special from the beginning. His prophetic dreams interest Lady Jessica’s superior, the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, who puts him through a test to prove his potential. He passes, and it surprises the Reverend Mother. Paul’s family arrives on Arrakis and they find out just how dangerous the dunes of Arrakis are. The sands reveal sandworms that will attack anything that makes noise. Along with other dangers that soon arise for the House Atreides.
I won’t tell you any more than that, but a lot more happens in this first novel of the Dune series. That’s just a basic summary of the first part of the book. It’s a big book and it does take some time to get through, but I highly suggest taking the time to read it. One of the things I love about it, is even if you don’t go on to read the other books, you really don’t need to. Dune could be a standalone book.
The five other books in the series are Dune: Messiah (1969), Children of Dune (1976), God Emperor of Dune (1981), Heretics of Dune (1984), and Chapterhouse: Dune in 1985. Children of Dune became the first hard cover best-seller ever in the Science Fiction field. With the later Dune novels being just as successful, Frank Herbert had notes for later books as well, but he passed away in early 1986. Which his son found them later on and he and author Kevin J. Anderson go on to create the franchise Dune is today.
Dune was a huge success, and as mentioned above spawned many adaptations. The original 1984 movie was sort of a flop, but that’s mostly due to the thick lore in the novel and how it is not easily transferable to a 2 and a half hour movie. However, as the movie got older, it became more successful. It has become what you would call a “cult classic” or something that is really successful with a certain group of people. I personally have never watched this movie, at least not that I can remember, so I can’t tell you whether it’s great or not.
The next attempt at an adaptation was with the 2000 three part miniseries that premiered on Syfy (at that time it was just the Sci-Fi channel) just called Frank Herbert’s Dune. Then in 2003 a sequel miniseries called Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune, which combined the books, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, premiered. Both miniseries were two of the three highest rated programs ever to premiere on Syfy. In 2019 a miniseries Dune: the Sisterhood, which follows the sisters of the Bene Gesserit, was produced as a prequel to the 2021 Dune film. I have seen the 2000 and 2003 series, but have yet to watch the 2019 series. I really liked the Children of Dune series out of the two miniseries, it stars James McAvoy as the main character and it was pretty well done.
Finally the newest adaptation of the series is of the Dune 2021 film. Technically the full title is Dune: Part One, but until the film premiered no one was aware of it being a two parter. Turns out that this movie only covers the first half of the novel, and the planned sequel for 2023 will finish the story out. When Warner Bros. decided to do the adaptation they had a contract for the first film, and if it succeeded then they would go on with the second part. When the film premiered, it was green lit that weekend. I have seen this first part and I really liked it, I liked that it really went in depth with the story and the special effects were really well done. If you’re at all interested in this book, but don’t have the time to read through it, I think this adaptation is the best way to get the story. One because it’s the newest, so the CGI and acting is really well done, and because it has a great cast, some really BIG name actors are in it: Timothee Chalamet, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Dave Bautista, and Stellan Skarsgard are just to name a few.
All in all, I recommend the book (I haven’t gotten through anything other than the first book as of writing this blog) but if you feel like you don’t have time, watch the newest movie or the 2000 miniseries. The 1984 movie is good, but I feel like you really have to have a good background information of the book to watch it, i.e. you have to be a fan of the book to really understand what is going on. However, that’s just from what people have said, as I mentioned above, I have not watched it.
If you have any interest in reading the book, we do have a copy of it at our library! (Or we are able to get one from another one of our libraries in our community, if we don’t have it at the time you visit!)