I started reading Dune last year in advance of the upcoming Timothy Chalamet/Zendaya movie- turns out the great movie pushback of 2020 (pandemic!) meant I had a lot more time to read its 650 pages than I’d anticipated.
This was a swift, tightly packed novel and I am very curious as to how director Denis Villeneuve (and the screenwriters) have managed to condense it to a single movie. The novel is split into three parts, and reads like a space opera: royal intrigue, hidden bloodlines, space lasers, giant desert sandworms, and literal poison pills. The stage opens with Paul Atreides and his parents, the Duke Leto and his concubine, Lady Jessica, traveling from their earth-like home planet to the desert planet Dune/Arrakis, at the behest of the Emperor. The Atreides’ enemy, another noble family, the Harkonnens, have been ordered to leave Dune but conspiracies are afoot. Not long after arriving, the Atreides are facing a full-fledged assault- will they survive? Who are the shadowy and mysterious desert dwelling people? Will everyone be killed by the giant desert sandworms?
I did find the ‘boy hero shows up to save us all’ a little trite, but Herbert was basing his desert dwellers’ religious beliefs on Islam, so maybe that’s par for the judeo-christian-islamic tradition? I hope that if Dune was rewritten today, Chani would be the real hero and we wouldn’t need a white boy to parachute in.
This being said, I did enjoy the story and I really appreciate the world that Herbert created. It is rich and complex, and very iconic (the sandworms!). Aside from naming his leading lady ‘Jessica’ (why Frank?! It just feels so dated), and the above-mentioned white savior issue, the world of Dune felt fairly timeless to me, which maybe is the mark of good sci fi?