There was a guy named Pete in my high school humanities class. Pete loved renaissance festivals and Dune. He said Frank Herbert’s Dune was a great example of what sci-fi can be at its best – a teaching tool. It’s hard (and boring) for us to read someone’s thoughts on what humanity should be like. Put the story in space, though, and we’re more susceptible to new ideas. Dune has plenty to say about power, war, economics, and religion, Pete told me. The book sounded cool to me, but it wasn’t until college that I finally read Dune. I did love it as much as Pete did. Since then, Herbert is one of the authors I use to measure the quality of sci-fi (Arthur C. Clarke and H.G. Wells are of my other metrics).
Of course, I was excited to read Herbert’s Destination: Void. Unfortunately, I could barely make it through the book. Destination: Void is very different than Dune. Void isn’t an expansive space opera like Dune. Rather, Void is a hard sci-fi “bottle episode” of a book. There are only five characters. The dialogue in the book is mostly Herbert’s ideas about what consciousness is, and what computers are. Therefore, it reads less like a novel and more like someone’s grad school paper. The book was written in 1966, so I understand it may have been more compelling at the time. However, I don’t think it holds up.
If you are into hard sci-fi and enjoy doing math in your leisure reading, you still may want to give the book a go, as it’s a prequel to some books set in the same universe (The Jesus Incident, The Lazarus Effect and The Ascension Factor) and reading this one will help set the table for those books.