Dune by Frank Herbert
Ace Books, New York, 2009
From my science fiction collection.
A read-along organized by Carl V, Kailana and the Little Red Reviewer. I finished Dune last week but due to computer malfunctions have not been about to post my response to read-along questions #2 and #3 until now. I enjoyed the reread and was amazed at how well the book held up for me. It’s been decades since my first reading, I never read the sequels and I never saw the movie. I think I might be ready for the film even though I don’t know if I can handle a young Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Antreides. Be warned, the following contains spoilers.
Dune – Book Two – Questions from Little Red Reviewer –
Was Liet’s identity a surprise? Who do you think he really works for?
No, because I have read the book before. I do wish I’d been able to get to know Liet/Keyes better. His impact on the thoughts of the Fremen, on their ideas about changing Dune into a more comfortably “livable” planet, is something I would like to know more about. I not sure he was actually working for anyone other than himself. his strong belief in the possibility of changing to environment of Dune led him to join and eventually lead the Fremen to that belief.
What do you think of the Fremen culture? Is this a culture you think you’d enjoy spending some time with?
I am fascinated by the Fremen and would love to spend time with them but adapting to a planet without water would be extremely difficult for me. If they were ocean beings, mere people, I would have no problem at all!
What do you think of Count Fenring’s unusual verbal mannerisms?
I think that mannerism only adds to the idea of Fenring being “a small man, weak looking”. He is deadly, a killer, and yet his way of speaking makes him appear harmless and rather dull.
This is a far future empire with very little in the way of computerization. Information is often passed down orally, and schools (such as the Mentats and the Bene Gesserit) have formed to train young people in memorization and information processing. What are you thoughts on a scifi story that is very “low-tech”? Does that sound like a feasable future? a ridiculous one?
It actually sounds like part of human history. In ancient times there was something called The Memory Palace taught to students of rhetoric and philosophy. Author Joshua Foer used the technique to become the 2006 U.S. Memory Champion. I fear with our increasing reliance on technology we will lose this skill. At this point the idea of no computers does seem ridiculous.
Dune was written in the 60’s. Does it feel dated to you? How does it compare, writing style-wise, to more contemporary science fiction you’ve read?
I was surprised at how well this book held up for me. Herbert took a culture based on empire and feudalism and flung it into the far-future. I read a few contemporary science fiction authors, Iain Banks is a favorite. To me Dune could be a precursor to some of his novels.
Dune – Book Three – Questions from Books Without Any Pictures
1. What is your reaction to finally learning the identity of Princess Irulan? Do you think that her convention added to the story?
This was not a surprise to me as I had read Dune before. I did appreciate her literary accomplishments and the fact that many quotes from her work were included in the novel. I gained a deeper understanding of Muad’Dib from her writings.
2. Were you satisfied with the ending? For those reading for the first time, was it what you expected?
I enjoyed the ending and it certainly leaves open many possibilities for a sequel.
3. On both Arrakis and Salusa Secundus, ecology plays a major role in shaping both characters and the story itself. Was this convincing? Do you think that Paul would have gone through with his threat to destroy the spice, knowing what it would mean for Arrakis?
I find the planet Arrakis to be as much a character in Dune as the human beings and feel that the idea of both planets shaping the story and characters totally convincing. Humans have always been shaped by where they live, be it the desert or a hive-like megalopolis. I don’t know if Paul would have destroyed the spice, I think he knew his threat would be taken seriously and that it would never come to that. I love the fact that the entire guild was dependent on this one desert planet and the Freman tribes for its survival.
4. Both Leto and Paul made their decisions on marriage for political reasons. Do you agree with their choices?
I understand the political and sociological structure of the Empire and the need for these marriages. That does not mean I agree with these decisions or with the whole idea of Empire. I don’t.
5. What was your favorite part in this section of the book?
There are many but here are a few. Paul being lost in time and becoming aware of his abilities even if he can’t control them. The point when he makes the decision to take The Water of Life, knowing that it could kill him. Chani and Jessica bringing him back from near death. And of course, the ride on the Maker.
6. One of the things I noticed in the discussions last week was Herbert’s use of the word “jihad.” What do you think of Herbert’s message about religion and politics?
The place of religion and politics in Dune could be discussed and argued forever. I don’t claim to understand his message about religion or politics. I think he used ideas that were available from human history to build his Empire and it’s cultures and did a brilliant job of it.
Again thanks to Carl V for organizing this read along. Now that my computer is up and running I hope to visit all the other participants!