Dec 22, 2009

[Books] Dune

DuneI was trying to figure out a comic book or book to review today when I realized that there are a large number of books that I had read before I started writing reviews on the Geeky Guide that definitely deserve reviewing.

That oddly pressures me to want to re-read a lot of books just to be sure about my ratings, but then I shouldn't really obsess about it too much, now should I? So to be more confident, I'm first revisiting my "classics" - those books that mean so much to me that no matter how many times I re-read them, they manage to provide new insights on the story and perhaps the world in general.

Thus today's title of choice - my favorite book of all time and my favorite science fiction series of all time. You know it's worth it.

Dune is a landmark title in the worlds of Science Fiction as written by Frank Herbert. It won the Hugo Award in 1966 and it was the first-ever book to win the Nebula Award. It was also the first bestselling science fiction novel. There are many amazing reasons why.

Paul Atreides, as portrayed by Kyle MacLachlan...Image via Wikipedia

Dune is many stories. At its core, it follows the life of Paul Atreides who finds his family and himself uprooted from their water-rich world of Caladan and sent to the harsh desert planet of Dune. They do this since their House stands to gain much by harvesting the spice melange - a rare substance that can only be found on Dune. The spice expands consciousness, extends life and is in demand by almost everyone in the Known Universe. On Dune they face threats both new and old in the form of assassination plots, Imperial schemes and the ever-constant threat of their age-old enemies, House Harkonnen.

It's a novel that explores the intricacies of politics with a complicated feudal class structure that involves the different houses, a controlling Emperor, Bene Gesserit witches and the enigmatic Spacing Guild. It's a story about religions and the myth of the messiah as viewed through the eyes of the wild Fremen that survive in the deepest deserts of Arrakis. It's a tale about the legacy a father leaves for his son as Paul comes to terms with the fact that his father is human and is in very real risk at times. It is all this and more.

I first read Dune in elementary school and I'll be the first to admit that it wasn't an easy read. I only read it because I was a major fan of Dune 2 - what many term to be the first true real-time strategy game every created. Even today, Dune is not a book I can easily recommend since it's on a completely different plane of writing all together. Still, if you decide to take this journey, you definitely won't regret it.

Dune is a complicated novel with many characters, plot threads and other intricacies. Herbert managed to create an entire world - no, an entire universe. It's something not quite seen on the same scale since the time of Tolkien and yet it just worked! It leaves you needing to do a lot of back reading - the book comes with its own glossary and other appendixes that provide additional detail about the characters and some of the history. It's definitely not a book for casual reading or the faint of heart, but I still stand by it.

For me, Dune reveals new thoughts and ideas to me every time I read it, and that just might be a personal thing. But let's face it - there are just so many angles to this book to explore that you're probably not going to get all of if in just one sitting. It's a book that really requires that you think and that's never a bad thing in my opinion.

Each character is richly defined and presents something for everyone to want to consider or think about. Each organization is complex and interesting and it will drive you to want to consider the possibilities of their world view even more. There's not much high technology to distract you either - just because it's science fiction doesn't mean there's a lot of complex space battles or in-depth descriptions of gun battles. It's really just a story - a vast one but a good one.

Dune is my favorite book of all time for a reason and it will always get a full 5 sandworms out of a possible 5.

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