Sunday, June 21, 2015

Special Edition Of DUNE


Arrakis, or Dune, is a planet of nothingness – its torched wastelands are home to a fierce nomadic people, and under the endless deserts stalk gargantuan sandworms the size of starships. It is a place where water is sacred – ‘a substance more precious than all others’ – where to shed a tear is the most taboo of all sacrifices. And yet the planet is also humanity’s sole source of ‘spice’, the mysterious, addictive substance that underpins the workings of the galaxy-wide Padishah Empire. To control Arrakis is to control all. And it is across its vast expanses and in its arid caves that Frank Herbert’s epic adventure of political subterfuge and messianic deliverance is played out, a story that has become the best-selling science-fiction novel of all time, and is considered by many to be the genre's greatest work.

It's a bit pricey at $150 but I hope my local library gets it. If  I want to reread the book it should be this version. If you have never read this book it's one you need to find time for. Yes, there is a bit of a learning curve to get into this world and it's politics but everything is provided for you with detailed definitions of names, places, terms, and events. There is so much richness here and is probably the most accessible of all the great classics of fiction. I found Lord of the Rings to be a slog but not so with Dune.

Even now, half a century since it first appeared in 1965, Dune is certainly still ‘the one’—it continues to top readers’ polls as the greatest sciencefiction novel of modern times. Many would say of all time. Before Star Wars, before A Game of Thrones, Frank Herbert brought to blazing life a feudalistic future of relentless political intrigue and insidious treachery, a grandly operatic vision—half Wagner, half spaghetti western—of a hero discovering his destiny. Characters include elite samurai-like warriors, sadistically decadent aristocrats, mystical revolutionaries, and, not least, those monster worms, which barrel along under the desert surface with the speed of a freight train, then suddenly emerge from the sand like Moby Dick rising from the depths.

Once settled on Arrakis, Duke Leto hopes to bring a more humane government to this forlorn planet. He initially sends his master at arms, Duncan Idaho, to form an alliance with the native Fremen, who, encased in stillsuits that recycle all their body fluids, can survive in seemingly impossible conditions. Others in Leto’s close circle of advisors include the logical, Mr Spock-like ‘Mentat’ and assassin Thufir Hawat, the troubadourswordmaster Gurney Halleck, and the sensitive Dr Wellington Yueh. However, Baron Harkonnen—one of the most repulsive villains in literature— has plans of his own for the Atreides household. To escape Harkonnen traps-within-traps, Lady Jessica and Paul must eventually flee into the desert, where they will gradually discover what her son calls his ‘terrible purpose.’

Like David Lean’s film Lawrence of Arabia—the modern work of art Dune most resembles—Herbert’s novel exhibits epic sweep while remaining, at heart, the intensely moving story of a young man caught up in a myth. To become a hero, let alone a messiah, is to cut oneself off from all others; to watch friends sink into worshipers; to loose forces that may be impossible to control; ultimately, after sowing the wind, to reap the whirlwind.


DrGoat said...

That is pretty steep. I'll just re read my old copy.
It's been a while, thanks for the reminder.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I tried to read "Dune" in the 70s and just could not get into it. Perhaps I'll try again one day, now that I'm older and wiser.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I ask you to try. Did you ever finish Moby Dick?