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Dune - Frank Herbert - NEW

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Dune - Frank Herbert  - NEW

Dune - Frank Herbert - New Book

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The epic story of the planet Arrakis, its Atreides rulers and their mortal enemies the Harkonnens is the finest, most widely acclaimed and enduring science fiction novel of this century. Huge in scope, towering in concept, it is a work that will live on in the reader's imagination.

About the Novel

Dune is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert and published in 1965. Winner of the 1966 Hugo Award and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel, Dune is popularly considered one of the great science fiction novels of all time, is frequently cited as the best-selling science fiction novel in history, and was the first bestselling hardcover science fiction novel ever.

Dune is set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar empire where planetary fiefdoms are controlled by noble Houses that owe allegiance to the Imperial House Corrino. The novel tells the story of young Paul Atreides (heir apparent to Duke Leto Atreides and scion of House Atreides) as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the spice melange, the most important and valuable substance in the universe. The story explores the complex and multilayered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion, as forces of the Empire confront each other for control of Arrakis and its spice.

Dune engendered five sequels written by Herbert before his death in 1986: Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse Dune. It also inspired a 1984 film adaptation by David Lynch, a 2000 Sci Fi Channel miniseries and its 2003 sequel, computer games, a board game and a series of prequels and sequels co-written by the author's son Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson starting in 1999.


After the publication of The Dragon in the Sea in 1957, Herbert began the initial stages of planning his next novel. He took a plane to Florence, Oregon, at the north edge of the Oregon Dunes where the USDA was sponsoring a lengthy series of experiments in using poverty grasses to stabilize and slow down the damaging sand dunes, which could "swallow whole cities, lakes, rivers, highways." Herbert's article on the dunes, "They Stopped the Moving Sands," was never completed (and only published decades later in an incomplete form in The Road to Dune), but it sparked Herbert's interest in the general subject of ecology and related matters. Herbert spent the next five years continuing research and writing and rewriting what would eventually become Dune,later serialized in Analog magazine from 1963 to 1965 as two shorter works, Dune World and The Prophet of Dune. Herbert dedicated the work "to the people whose labors go beyond ideas into the realm of 'real materials'—to the dry-land ecologists, wherever they may be, in whatever time they work, this effort at prediction is dedicated in humility and admiration." The serialized version was expanded and reworked, and ultimately rejected by twenty publishers before it was published. At least one editor realized the possible mistake: "I was unhappy to learn that Scribner's rejected Dune. The editor's comment that he may have been mistaken (in doing so)—let us hope that's prophetic."



Thousands of years in the future, the human race has scattered throughout the galaxy, populating numerous planetary systems ruled by aristocratic royal houses who themselves answer to the galaxy's ruler, the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV. The CHOAM corporation is the major underpinning of the Imperial economy, with shares and directorships determining each House's income and financial leverage. Key is the control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the valuable spice melange, which gives those who ingest it extended life and prescient awareness. Melange is crucial as it enables space travel, which the Spacing Guild monopolizes. Navigators use the spice melange to safely plot a course for the Guild's heighliner ships via prescience using "foldspace" technology, which allows instantaneous travel to anywhere in the galaxy.

The spice is also crucial to the powerful matriarchal order called the Bene Gesserit, whose sole priority is to preserve and advance the human race. The secretive Bene Gesserit, often referred to as "witches," possess mental and physical powers developed through conditioning called prana-bindu training.

A Bene Gesserit acolyte becomes a full Reverend Mother by undergoing a deadly ritual known as the spice agony, in which she ingests a lethal dose of an awareness spectrum narcotic and must render it harmless internally. Surviving the ordeal unlocks her Other Memory, the ego and memories of all her female ancestors. Reverend Mother is warned to avoid the place in her consciousness that is occupied by the genetic memory of her male ancestors, referred to as "the place we cannot look." In light of this, the Bene Gesserit have a secret, millennia-old breeding program, the goal of which is to produce a male equivalent of a Bene Gesserit whom they call the Kwisatz Haderach. This individual would not only be able to survive the spice agony and access masculine Other Memory, but is also expected to possess "organic mental powers (that can) bridge space and time."The Bene Gesserit intend their Kwisatz Haderach to give them the ability to control the affairs of mankind more effectively.

The planet Arrakis itself is completely covered in a desert ecosystem, hostile to most organic life. It is also sparsely settled by a human population of native Fremen tribes. Tribal leaders are selected by defeating the former leader in combat. The Fremen also have complex rituals and systems focusing on the value and conservation of water on their arid planet. They conserve the water distilled from their dead, consider spitting an honorable greeting, and value tears as the greatest gift one can give to the dead. Their culture also revolves around the spice melange, which is created as part of the life cycle of the giant sandworms who dominate the deserts. Bene Gesserit missionary efforts have implanted a belief in a male Messiah who will one day come and transform Arrakis to a world more hospitable to humans.


Emperor Shaddam IV has come to fear House Atreides, partly due to the growing popularity of Duke Leto Atreides and also because the talent of Leto's fighting force is beginning to rival the effectiveness of the Emperor's own dreaded Imperial Sardaukar guard. Shaddam decides that House Atreides must be destroyed, but cannot risk an overt attack on a single House, which would by necessity unite the other Houses against him. The Emperor instead uses the centuries-old feud between House Atreides and House Harkonnen to disguise his assault, enlisting the brilliant and power-hungry Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in his plan to trap and eliminate the Atreides. Shaddam forces Leto to accept the lucrative fief of the desert planet Arrakis, the only known source of the spice melange, previously controlled by the Harkonnens.

Complicating the political intrigue is the fact that the Duke's son Paul Atreides is an essential part of the Bene Gesserit's secret, centuries-old breeding program to create a superhuman called the Kwisatz Haderach. There are signs that Paul might actually be the Kwisatz Haderach, born one generation earlier than expected, though this remains in doubt.

The Atreides suspect foul play, and are able to thwart the initial Harkonnen traps and complications while simultaneously building trust with the local population of Fremen. Ultimately, however, the Atreides are unable to withstand a devastating Harkonnen attack, supported by Imperial Sardaukar disguised as Harkonnen troops and aided by a traitor within House Atreides itself — the Suk doctor Wellington Yueh. Captured, Duke Leto dies in a failed attempt to assassinate Baron Harkonnen; Paul and Jessica, his mother, escape into the deep desert. With Jessica's Bene Gesserit abilities and Paul's developing skills, they manage to join a band of Fremen, ferocious fighters who ride the giant sandworms of Arrakis.

Paul and his mother quickly learn the ways of the Fremen, while teaching them the weirding way, or Bene Gesserit method of fighting. Jessica becomes a Reverend Mother, taking the concentrated spice while pregnant with her second child. Daughter Alia experiences all that her mother does from the spice, gaining prescience and wisdom before even being born. Years pass, and Paul increasingly recognizes the strength of the Fremen fighting force, and recognizes their potential to overtake even the Sardaukar and win back Arrakis. Living on the spice diet of the Fremen, Paul's prescience increases dramatically, enabling him to foresee future events and gaining him a religious respect from the Fremen, who regard him as their prophesied Messiah. As Paul grows in influence, he begins a jihad against Harkonnen rule of the planet under his new Fremen name, Muad'Dib.

Both the Emperor and the Baron Harkonnen show increasing interest in the fervor of religious fanaticism shown on Arrakis for this "Muad'Dib," not guessing that this leader is the presumed-dead Paul. Harkonnen plots to send his nephew and heir Feyd Rautha as a replacement for his other and more ruthless nephew Glossu Rabban — who is currently in charge of the planet — to gain the respect of the now-troublesome Fremen. Winning them over as a fighting force, he hopes, will give him enough power to overtake the Emperor himself. The Emperor, however, is highly suspicious of the Baron and sends spies to watch his movements.

On Arrakis, Paul is reunited with an old ally of the Atreides, Gurney Halleck. Completely loyal to the Atreides, Gurney is convinced that Jessica is the traitor who had caused the House's downfall. He nearly kills her, but for Paul's last-minute intervention. Disturbed by his lack of complete prescience and the near-loss of his mother, Paul decides to take the water of life, an act that could kill him. After three weeks in a near-death state, Paul emerges as the Kwisatz Haderach. His powers are much more focused, and he is able to see past, present and future at will. Looking into space, he sees that the Emperor and the Harkonnens have amassed a huge armada to invade the planet and regain control. Paul also discovers the way to control spice production on Arrakis; saturating spice fields with water will cause a chain reaction that will destroy all spice on the planet.

Alia is captured by Sardaukar and brought to the planet's capital Arrakeen, where the Baron Harkonnen is nervously attempting to thwart the Fremen jihad under the close watch of the Emperor. The Emperor is surprised at four-year-old Alia's defiance of his power and her confidence in her brother, whom she reveals to be Paul Atreides. At that moment, under cover of a gigantic sandstorm, Paul and his army of Fremen attack the city. Alia kills the Baron Harkonnen with a poisoned needle during the confusion. Paul quickly overtakes the city's defenses and confronts the Emperor, threatening to destroy the spice and thereby effectively end space travel and cripple both the Imperial power and Bene Gesserit in one blow. Feyd Rautha challenges Paul to a knife-duel in a final attempt to stop his overthrow of power, but is defeated despite an attempt at treachery. Realizing that Paul is capable of doing all he has threatened, the Emperor is forced to abdicate and to promise his daughter Princess Irulan in marriage to Paul. Paul ascends the throne, his control of Arrakis and the spice establishing a new kind of power over the Empire which will change the face of the known universe.


Environmentalism and ecology

Dune has been called the "first planetary ecology novel on a grand scale".After the publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in 1962, science fiction writers were confronted with the problem of biological-human relations. Dune responded in 1965 with its complex descriptions of Arrakis life, from giant sandworms (for whom water is deadly) to smaller, mouse-like life forms adapted to live with limited water. The inhabitants of the planet, the Fremen, must compromise with the ecosystem they live in—sacrificing some of their desire for a water-laden planet in order to preserve the sandworms which are so important to their culture. In this way, Dune foreshadowed the struggle the world would have following Carson's book in balancing human and animal life. Dune was followed in its creation of complex and unique ecologies by other science fiction books such as A Door into Ocean (1986) and Red Mars (1992). Environmentalists have pointed out that Dune's popularity as a novel depicting a planet as a complex—almost living—thing, in combination with the first images of earth from space during the same time period being published, was instrumental in environmental movements such as the creation of Earth Day in many nations worldwide.

Declining empires

Scholars have compared Dune's portrayal of the downfall of a galactic empire to Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which portrays the corruption, division, and circumstance which led to the fall of Ancient Rome. Lorenso DiTommaso, for example, outlines similarities between the two works by highlighting the excesses of the Emperor on his home planet of Kaitain and of the Baron Harkonnen in his palace. The Emperor is said to have lost his effectiveness as a ruler in the name of ceremony and pomp. The hairdressers and attendants which he brings with him to Arrakis are even referred to as "parasites" in the novel. The Baron Harkonnen is similarly corrupt, completely decadent and given over to sexual pleasures. In a parallel manner, Gibbon's Decline and Fall blames the fall of Rome on the inflow of decadent ideas from conquered states, and on the excesses that followed therefrom. Gibbon claimed that these luxuries weakened the soldiers of Rome and left it open to attack. Similarly, the Emperor's Sardaukar fighters are little match for the Fremen of Dune because of the Fremen's lack of luxury, comfort, and overconfidence with which the Sardaukar have become familiar. The Fremen also are more capable of self-sacrifice, putting the community before themselves in every instance, while the world outside wallows in personal comfort at the expense of others. In all these characteristics, Dune is not alone in drawing from Gibbon's work, as Isaac Asimov creates a similarly declining empire in his Foundation series, as does Arthur C. Clarke in his The City and the Stars.

Gender issues

Kathy Gower criticizes Dune in the book Mother Was Not a Person, arguing that although the book has been praised for its portrayal of people in a mystical world, the women get left behind. In her view, women in Dune culture are largely left to domestic duties, and the exclusively-female Bene Gesserit religious cult resembles age-old notions of witchcraft. Women in this religion are feared and hated by the men. They also never use their power to aid themselves, only the men around them, and their greatest desire is to bring a man into their religion. Margery Hourihan echoes this sentiment, calling the main character's mother Jessica "by far the most interesting character in the novel"and pointing out that while her son approaches a power which makes him almost alien to the reader, she remains human. Throughout the novel, she struggles to maintain power in a male-dominated society, and manages to help her son at key moments in his realization of power. Other gender critics argue that the book's portrayal of homosexuals, as in the case of the Baron Harkonnen, is highly negative and one-sided.

On the other hand, Jessica's son's approach to power consistently requires his upbringing under the female-oriented Bene Gesserit, who operate as a long-dominating shadow government behind all of the great houses and their marriages or divisions. A central theme of the book is the connection, in Jessica's son, of this female aspect with his male aspect. In a Bene Gesserit test early in the book, it is implied that men are generally "inhuman" in that they irrationally place desire over self-interest and reason. This is neither anti-male, nor pro-female, but instead applies Herbert's philosophy that humans are not created equal, but that equal justice and equal opportunity are much higher ideals than mental, physical, or moral equality.


Throughout Paul's rise to superhuman status, he follows a plotline common to many stories describing the birth of a hero. For example, as in other hero stories, he has unfortunate circumstances forced onto him. After a long period of hardship and exile, he confronts and defeats the source of evil in his tale. As such, Dune is representative of a general trend beginning in 1960s American science fiction in that it features a character who attains godlike status through scientific means. Eventually, Paul Atreides gains a level of omniscience which allows him to take over the planet and the galaxy, and also causes the Fremen of Arrakis to worship him like a god, leading to varying results. Author Frank Herbert said in 1979, "The bottom line of the Dune trilogy is: beware of heroes. Much better rely on your own judgment, and your own mistakes."

Juan A. Prieto-Pablos asserts that Herbert achieves a new typology with Paul's superpowers, differentiating the heroes of Dune from earlier heroes, such as Superman, van Vogt's Gilbert Gosseyn, and Henry Kuttner's telepaths. Unlike previous superheroes who acquire their powers suddenly and accidentally, Paul's are the result of "painful and slow personal progress." And unlike other superheroes of the 1960s—who are the exception among ordinary people in their respective worlds—Herbert's characters grow their powers through "the application of mystical philosophies and techniques." For Herbert, the ordinary person can develop incredible fighting skills (Fremen and Sardaukar) or mental abilities (Bene Gesserit and Mentats). The reader, then, may feel himself projected into these characters if he is open to evolution through his own efforts.


Early in his newspaper career, Herbert was introduced to Zen by two Jungian psychologists; ever after, Zen and Jungianism influenced him. Throughout the Dune series and particularly in Dune, Herbert employs concepts and forms borrowed from Zen Buddhism as a further religious influence on his characters; the Fremen are Zensunni adherents, many of his epigraphs are Zen-spirited. In "Dune Genesis", he writes of his use of Zen themes:

What especially pleases me is to see the interwoven themes, the fuguelike relationships of images that exactly replay the way Dune took shape. As in an Escher lithograph, I involved myself with recurrent themes that turn into paradox. The central paradox concerns the human vision of time. What about Paul's gift of prescience-the Presbyterian fixation? For the Delphic Oracle to perform, it must tangle itself in a web of predestination. Yet predestination negates surprises and, in fact, sets up a mathematically enclosed universe whose limits are always inconsistent, always encountering the unprovable. It's like a koan, a Zen mind breaker. It's like the Cretan Epimenides saying, "All Cretans are liars."

Zen also appears in other Herbert works outside the Dune series; The Jesus Incident cites Zen by name, and Tim O'Reilly has identified strong Zen elements in the preceding novel, Destination: Void.


Reviews of the novel have been largely positive. Tamara I. Hladik wrote that the story "crafts a universe where lesser novels promulgate excuses for sequels. All its rich elements are in balance and plausible -- not the patchwork confederacy of made-up languages, contrived customs, and meaningless histories that are the hallmark of so many other, lesser novels." The only weak point, he says, is the ending, in which Paul "becomes remote and a shade boring" as a result of his almost godlike status.

First edition points

The first edition of Dune is one of the most notable and valuable first editions in science fiction book collecting, and copies have gone for in excess of ,000 at auction. It is also frequently misidentified; a true Chilton first edition of the novel should be 9.25" tall, possess bluish green boards and a price of .95 on the dust jacket, and note Toronto as the Canadian publisher on the copyright page.


The first film adaptation of Dune was released nearly 20 years after the book's publication. The depth and symbolism of the novel, Herbert said, seemed to intimidate many filmmakers. Herbert, however, was pleased with the film, saying that "They've got it. It begins as Dune does. And I hear my dialogue all the way through. There are some interpretations and liberties, but you're gonna come out knowing you've seen Dune." Reviews of the film were not as optimistic, saying that it was incomprehensible to those unfamiliar with the book, and that fans would be disappointed by the way it strayed from the book's plot. The book also inspired a 2000 SciFi miniseries starring William Hurt, and production is underway at Paramount Pictures for a new film based on the book, directed by Peter Berg.

Cultural influence of Dune

Dune has been widely influential, inspiring other novels, music, films (including Star Wars), television, videogames, and comic books. The novel was parodied in 1984's National Lampoon's Doon by Ellis Weiner, and inspired The Dune Encyclopedia (1984) by Dr. Willis E. McNelly.

Dune inspired the Iron Maiden song "To Tame A Land." However, when songwriter Steve Harris requested permission from the author to name the song "Dune," his request was met with a stern refusal — backed up with a legal threat — which noted that "Herbert doesn't like rock bands, particularly heavy rock bands, and especially rock bands like Iron Maiden." The song was renamed "To Tame a Land" and released in 1983.

"Traveller in Time" from the 1991 Blind Guardian album Tales from the Twilight World album is based mostly on the character Paul Atreides' visions of future and past.

The novel is also the likely inspiration for the lyrics "Walk without rhythm, it won't attract the worm" in the song "Star 69 / Weapon of Choice" by Fatboy Slim. In the novel, Paul notes "We must walk without rhythm" to avoid notice by a sandworm as he and Jessica cross the desert; Lynch's Dune (1984) features Paul's line "If we walk without rhythm, we won't attract the worm" 82 minutes into the film.

In 1997, a Romanian author, Florin Chirculescu, wrote a sequel to the Dune series called Dune 7 - House of Brundurs (Cartea Brundurilor in Romanian) using the pseudonym Patrick Herbert. In his vision, humanity had returned to Earth, now a frozen planet, and built large organic cities underneath the surface. Occasional skirmishes with Scattering forces were still occuring on orbit but with only unmanned ships fighting for the humans. All humans had implants which enabled them to create and navigate a huge virtual reality network called "the vortex". Beneath the surface, there were small pockets of humans grouped in "legions", completely isolated from the cities' population, using their own version of vortex and pursuing the goal of eliminating each other so that only one legion remain on Earth. The story ignored the cliffhanger of Chapterhouse Dune. The book was released in Romania only and it's not recognized as an official sequel to Dune series.

Dune - Frank Herbert



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