This is a difficult book to write a summary for. It’s been around for nearly 60 years, has been adapted multiple times already, has another adaptation coming out this year, and yet before first reading it in 2013, I had no idea what it was about. So what kind of scope do you give a synopsis for something like this? I really don’t know. Also the last time I wrote more than 100 words at a time was many years ago so excuse the odd style. Anyway, a quick synopsis.
Paul (a special boy) and his family the Atreides are relocated from their wet home planet Caladan to the much drier Arrakis where they take over the spice mining business from a rival house, the Harkonnens. How special is this boy you ask?
And how dry is this new planet?
There are a few courtly drama scenes and an introduction to the spice mining business before the Atreides are betrayed by that rival house. Paul and his mother take to the dunes to live among the Fremen, native Arrakins who wear special terrible-smelling suits to seal in their juices. From here, things get pretty wild. Paul is the subject of two separate(?) prophecies as both the only male Bene Gesserit (don’t worry about it,) and as the outland savior of the planet. The plot pacing starts to accelerate quite rapidly, with a huge amount of the action seeming to take place within the last 15 percent of the book.
I’m a fan of Dune. Yeah I know it’s got plenty of problems, but here’s what I enjoy:
- The world/universe is intimidatingly detailed. Generally I have to take a trip to the appendix/glossary every 40-50 pages on average.
- The dialogue is especially odd – high drama with many exclamation points
- The 60s-vision future tech is interesting: personal shields, energy weapons, faster-than-light spaceships that became fairly standard in sci-fi, but certain other aspects didn’t really catch on. For instance, ornithopters: flapping-winged aircraft. Why? That sounds like such bad design; why would you articulate mechanical wings along that axis? I’m no expert, but it seems like one flap would crunch the fuselage right good
- Also, lasers are referred to as “lasguns.” Nobody ever abbreviated it like that again because it’s silly.
All in all a fun, hot time in the sand.