Gun to head, if I had to choose a genre of books, it would be epic fantasy or science fiction. I love the detailed mythologies and extensive worldbuilding that these genres provide. I also like that most grapple with philosophical and sweeping questions about humanity and good and evil. I guess I’ve read a lot of the classics of both genres but somehow, I had neglected to read Dune. Maybe because nobody really introduced me to the genre. My Aunt and my Dad instilled a love of reading, but these were not the kinds of books they read. I guess I just started to read sci-fi/fantasy when I somehow picked up Foundation (Asimov) at the used book store. I finally decided to read the book because of the upcoming adaptation that I am desperate to see on the first day, but will never watch until I’ve read the book.
In the far off future(?), mankind has spread out to different planets and there is feudalist society where noble families control various fiefdoms under the rule of the Emperor. There is no advanced calculating technology (computers, A.I.), instead, humans are especially trained to fulfill those functions, in a sort of mystical way. In this backdrop, Duke Leto Atreides, together with his son Paul and companion Jessica, are assigned by the Emperor to rule of over the planet Arrakis. Arrakis is a hard and barren place with nothing but endless desert. But it is also the sole producer of the spice melange — which seems to be more than a yummy additive to food. There is of course, a rival House Harkonnen led by the Baron and a mysterious tribe native to Arrakis, the Fremen, who have somehow adapted to the hostile climate of the planet. There are visions and prophecies, betrayals and death as the story of how Paul Atreides comes to lead the Fremen is told throughout the book.
As to the plot, it doesn’t take a genius to see there there are some parallels to Arrakis and the Spice to the Middle East and oil. There are pretty obvious Islamic references. To my modern sensibilities there is a little bit of discomfort on seeing the white Paul ultimately being elevated to God like status by a Middle Eastern tribe analogue. I’m not sure I can articulate my discomfort any further than that or if it is warranted or not. Maybe I’ll read more on it to help me crystallize my opinion but that is just my initial reading and unfiltered feeling. Also, it was a bit disturbing how God-like he was and how fanatical his followers were in the end. I WAS a glad to know that this is precisely the main theme of the next book so I will go on reading.
All in all, this is precisely the kind of book that is catnip to me. I love the specificity of the world, not just Arrakis, but the culture, society and universe and I am excited to read more. Also, I am so exited for Timotheeee Chalameeet! And Zendayaaaa (is Chani)!