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Dune Mass Market Paperback – Unabridged, September 1, 1990
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Attention Science Fiction Fans
Man vs. machine, humans vs. aliens, paranormal activities – discover the best of science fiction with these collectible books. Learn More.
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This Hugo and Nebula Award winner tells the sweeping tale of a desert planet called Arrakis, the focus of an intricate power struggle in a byzantine interstellar empire. Arrakis is the sole source of Melange, the "spice of spices." Melange is necessary for interstellar travel and grants psychic powers and longevity, so whoever controls it wields great influence.
The troubles begin when stewardship of Arrakis is transferred by the Emperor from the Harkonnen Noble House to House Atreides. The Harkonnens don't want to give up their privilege, though, and through sabotage and treachery they cast young Duke Paul Atreides out into the planet's harsh environment to die. There he falls in with the Fremen, a tribe of desert dwellers who become the basis of the army with which he will reclaim what's rightfully his. Paul Atreides, though, is far more than just a usurped duke. He might be the end product of a very long-term genetic experiment designed to breed a super human; he might be a messiah. His struggle is at the center of a nexus of powerful people and events, and the repercussions will be felt throughout the Imperium.
Dune is one of the most famous science fiction novels ever written, and deservedly so. The setting is elaborate and ornate, the plot labyrinthine, the adventures exciting. Five sequels follow. --Brooks Peck --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
From Library Journal
Dune is to science fiction what The Lord of the Rings is to fantasy. Though fans believed they had bid a sad farewell to the sand planet of Arrakis upon Herbert's death in 1986, his son Brian has assumed writing the Nebula and Hugo award-winning series with the help of Kevin J. Anderson. But the original is always the most popular, and Ace here offers a good-quality hardcover complete with maps, a glossary, and appendixes. The book's huge fan base should expand even more thanks to a six-hour miniseries premiering on the Sci-Fi Channel later this year that is said to be more faithful to the book than David Lynch's truly awful 1984 feature film.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I love sci-fi but don't read much of it because I prefer fantasy. DUNE feels like a perfect blend of the two. A war of noble houses set in space. Paul Atreides is heir to the duchy- and to say that he is well trained for the job would be an understatement. His father, Duke Leto, is given charge of Arrakis- a hellish desert-world and the sole source of "the spice" which the entire universe needs. A very prestigious assignment, but treachery and peril comes with it. Paul finds himself thrown into the mystery of Dune and its fierce natives, the Fremen. Is he the savior their prophecy speaks of?
I was first blown away by DUNE at the age of 16, and have since considered it "the one to beat". In 8 years, very few books have made me question that judgment: Game of Thrones, Foundation, Lord of the Rings, Ender's Game. I had to reread it to be sure I wasn't just naïve at the time. Was it really THAT great? Absolutely.
I really like the book itself, but can't recommend the Kindle edition due to sadly sloppy formatting -- in literally hundreds of places, the Kindle edition will spuriously add italics where none belong, or remove italics where they do belong, or remove spaces between words so they run together, or confuse dashes with hyphens and use quotation marks or apostrophes that point the wrong direction. There are some typos too (which I think are not literally typos, but OCR -- optical character recognition -- errors).
All of this distracts from the enjoyment of what should be an excellent read, frequently reminding you that you are reading a book published by a company that couldn't be bothered to proofread their work.
The fact that this is an extra-cost "40th anniversary edition" adds insult to injury (the Dune sequels haven't been given the 40th anniversary treatment, and aren't full of these annoying errors, and they cost less to boot).
The sci-fi classification does not mean "Dune" is inaccessible to non-sci-fi fans, because most of the traditional sci-fi elements are either absent or mere background. Several remarkable scenes of hand to hand combat are more reminiscent of ancient Roman gladiators than of science fiction! There are weaknesses: mature themes (such as allusions to pedastry) make "Dune" unsuitable for children, and Herbert's use of language is not outstanding. But what especially makes "Dune" great is the complexity of ideas. Herbert has created not just a story, but a memorable world conveying an elaborate philosophy of ideas, with three outstanding themes:
1. ECOLOGY. Arrakis is a barren and bare planet of desert sands, with characters reminiscent of desert Arabs (Herbert studied Arabic extensively in researching for the novel). As well as hosting titanic deadly sandworms, the desert sands feature a mysterious and narcotic spice substance known as Melange, which is central to the diet of its inhabitants, heightens powers of awareness, and is a central part of the economy. The power and value of water in this hostile sandscape environment is manifested in that shedding tears is an expression of great devotion. It becomes evident that there is a plan to rescue this planet from its barrenness and turn it into a paradise. Significantly the book is dedicated to dry land ecologists. Herbert was an accomplished ecologist himself, and one wonders whether he is expressing his own vision of the possibility of a man-achieved paradise on earth.
2. POLITICS. There is a complex interplay of people, tribes, politics and economics, with constant scheming, plots and subterfuge revolving around personal and political ambitions. Herbert has created an intricate and plausible history of tribes and peoples, with unique languages (much originating from Arabic), names and ambitions. The lust for power and wealth is combined with a determination to succeed at all costs, stopping at nothing - even murder - to achieve it. The political corruption and chaos of Dune's world is analogous to our contemporary world, as Herbert once observed in an interview: "the scarce water of Dune is an exact analog of oil scarcity. CHOAM is OPEC." Paul's triumphant leadership is also thematic. In humanizing a messiah figure, Herbert raises an important question: why do people blindly follow leaders? "Dune" conveys his theory that "superheroes are disastrous for mankind" because even the greatest leaders are human. Despite their strengths, relying completely on them is fatal.
3. RELIGION. Religion is inter-woven with politics, and centers on women, such as the powerful matriarch, the Reverend Mother. Herbert at times seems to picture religion as the manipulation of the masses by the intelligent, since the Orthodox Catholic Bible functions as a human invention rather than divine revelation. The strong religious component especially comes to the fore with Paul, a Messiah figure who fulfils prophecies, the long awaited Kwisatz Haderach who is somehow both man and god, and from whom all blessings flow. These prophecies have their own pitfalls - and are used to show the paradox of a system of predistination. The religion is a mixture of Christianity, Islam (jihad and similar Arabic words are clearly borrowed), Buddhist philosophy, and a strong eastern mystical component. Strangely, there is no active involvement of the Creator, since "the most persistent principles of the universe are accident and error." The power of the divine resides instead within oneself, and there are definite occultic overtones, such as the mention of "wierding" (a form of witchcraft), and very obvious new age Eastern spiritualism and mysticism. Herbert also makes a profound connection between technology and religion. In light of the fact that this novel was written at the hey-day of space travel and lunar landings, it is remarkable that in an appendix Herbert observes that technology and space travel affects one's view of creation. In his opinion, the god of technology and machine-logic is destined to be dethroned, and replaced with a renewed realization of the significance of man. Instead of placing hope in machines, it is to be placed in mankind. Herbert optimism about mankind is evident: a self-made paradise is attainable.
In short, Herbert has created a plausible world, reflecting his multi-faceted interests in society, culture, environment, politics, religion and science. Dune's fictional cultures (Fremen), political parties (Harkonnen, Atreides), worlds (Dune), languages, religions, customs, geography, and ecology are imaginative, realistic, and function in a rich complexity that places him in the same league as Tolkien and similar eminent writers. Though written in the 1960s, the fact that Dune is still relevant, readable and in no way outdated is a testimony to its greatness. You will find that this book has so much depth that you will not just read it once, but many times, with increasing enjoyment. So, don't hesitate, head for the sands of Dune for an unforgettable adventure!