Dune is a 1965 science fiction novel by American author Frank Herbert. It was originally published in two separate serials of Analog magazine. It was a tie with Roger Zelazny’s This Inmortal in 1966 for the Hugo Award and won the inaugural Nebula Award as Best Novel. It’s the first installment in the Dune series. In 2003, it was named the best-selling science fiction novel in the world.
Dune takes place in the distant future in a feudal interstellar community in which different noble houses hold planetary fiefs. It is the story of Paul Atreides, a young man whose family accepts responsibility for the planet Arrakis. Although the planet is a desert wasteland that is inhospitable, melange is the only source for “spice” or melange, a drug that enhances mental ability and extends life. Space navigation requires melange, which is a multidimensional knowledge and foresight only the drug can provide. Melange cannot be made on Arrakis so it is a highly prized and dangerous task. As the factions of empire struggle to control Arrakis and its spices, the story explores the complex interactions of politics religion ecology technology emotion.
Five sequels were written by Herbert: Dune Messiah (Children of Dune), God Emperor of Dune (Children of Dune), Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune. After Herbert’s death, his son Brian Herbert wrote five sequels: Dune Messiah, Children of Dune and God Emperor of Dune. Kevin J. Anderson was the author.
The adaptations of novels to film have been difficult and complex. Alejandro Jodorowsky, a cult filmmaker, attempted to make a film that was based on the novel in the 1970s. The project was cancelled after three years of development. A film adaptation of the story, directed by David Lynch in 1984, received a negative response. Denis Villeneuve directed a second adaptation. It was released October 21, 2021. The book was also adapt into the 2000 Sci-Fi Channel miniseries Frank Herbert’s Dune, and its 2003 sequel Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune. This series combines the events of Dune Messiah with Children of Dune. This series has been used to create a variety of board, role-playing and video games.
The names of the planets in the Dune books have been used for the actual-life nomenclature on the plains of Saturn’s moon Titan.
Table of Contents
- 1 Origins
- 2 Plot
- 3 Characters
- 4 Influences and themes
- 5 Manuscripts and prints from the first edition
- 6 Adaptations
- 7 Cultural influence
Herbert traveled to Florence in Oregon in 1957 after his novel The Dragon in the Sea had been published. The United States Department of Agriculture tried to stabilize the dunes with poverty grasses. Lurton Blassingame, Herbert’s literary agent, claimed that the dunes could swallow entire cities, lakes and rivers. Herbert’s article about the dunes, “They Stopped the Moving Sands”, wasn’t completed and was only published in The Road to Dune decades later. However, it inspired Herbert’s interest to ecology and deserts.
Herbert was also fascinated by the concept of superhero mystique or messiahs. Herbert believed that feudalism was a natural state in which humans fall into. He thought that some people were more responsible for making decisions than others and simply followed orders. He discovered that desert environments had historically been the birthplace of many major religions with mesianic impulses. He decided to combine his interests so that he could oppose ecological and religious ideas. He was also influenced by T. E. Lawrence’s story and the “messianic undertones” of Lawrence’s participation in the Arab Revolt during World War I. An early Dune version showed a hero very similar to Lawrence of Arabia. However, Herbert decided that the plot was too simple and added layers to his story.
Another important source of inspiration for Dune were Herbert’s experiences using psilocybin, and his passion for growing mushrooms. Paul Stamets, a mycologist, recounts meeting Herbert in 1980.
Frank explained that Dune was based on his experience with magic mushrooms and his perception of fungal life cycles.
Herbert spent five more years writing, researching, and revising. From December 1963 to February 1964, Herbert published a three-part serial Dune World that spanned the monthly Analog. Numerous illustrations were included with the serial, but they were never published again. After a gap of one year, he published the slower-paced five-part The Prophet of Dune in January-May 1965 issues. The first serial was “Book 1: Dune” as it appeared in the Dune novel. The second serial was split into “Book Two, Muad’dib”, and “Book Three: The Prophet”. After the serialization, it was expanded and reworked. It was submitted to over twenty publishers, all of whom rejected it. Chilton Books published Dune the final version of the novel in August 1965. This printing house is best known for its auto repair manuals.
Herbert dedicated his work to “the people whose labors transcend ideas into the realm’real materials’-to the dryland ecologists. Wherever they may be in whatever time, this prediction effort is dedicated in humility & admiration.”
The Padishah Emperor Shaddam V has assigned Duke Leto Atreides from House Atreides to be the fief ruler on the planet Arrakis. He is the ruler of Caladan’s ocean planet. Arrakis, a desert planet that is harsh and difficult to visit, is vital because it is the only planet source of melange or “spice”, an exclusive and valuable substance that prolongs the life span, youth and vitality of humans. This is why it is so highly sought after by the Empire. The Guild navigators’ extraordinary mental abilities are possible because of the spice they eat. Shaddam views House Atreides as a threat and potential rival, and conspires to kill Leto and his family. Leto knows his assignment is a trap, but refusing to accept it would mean fleeing the empire and becoming a hunted renegade.
Lady Jessica, Leto’s concubine, is an acolyte in the Bene Gesserit. This exclusively female group pursues mysterious political goals and has seemingly supernatural physical and mental abilities. Although Jessica was told by the Bene Gesserit that she would bear a daughter under their breeding program, she chose to have a son out of love for Leto. Leto’s aides Gurney Halleck and Duncan Idaho have taught Paul warfare skills. Thufir Hawat is the Duke’s Mentat and has helped Paul become a skilled political maneuverer. Jessica has also been able to teach Paul the Bene Gesserit discipline she can. The Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, Jessica’s superior is interested in his prophetic dreams. As part of her assessment of Paul’s humanity, she puts him through the gom jabbar. This is a fatal test that causes blinding pain. Paul passes despite being exposed more pain than anyone else.
Leto, Jessica, and Paul travel together with their household to occupy Arrakeen. This stronghold was once held by House Harkonnen. Leto discovers the dangers involved harvesting the spice. The spice is protected by giant Sandworms. Leto negotiates with the Fremen people of the planet, considering them a valuable ally and not foes. Soon after the arrival of the Atreides, Harkonnen forces attacked, with the help of the Emperor’s fierce Sardaukar troops disguised. Leto is betrayed and drank by Wellington Yueh, his personal doctor. He delivers Leto to Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Piter de Vries, and their twisted Mentat. Yueh arranges for Jessica to flee into the desert with Paul, and they are then presumed dead by Piter De Vries. Yueh places Leto’s tooth in a poison gas capsule and hopes Leto will kill him. De Vries kills Yueh after he delivers Leto. The Baron narrowly avoids the gas which instead kills Leto. Hawat is forced by the Baron to assume De Vries’ place. Hawat secretly works to undermine the Harkonnens while he follows the Baron’s instructions.
Paul flees into the desert and realizes that he has powerful powers due to the Bene Gesserit breeding program. This was inadvertently created by Jessica having a son and Paul’s exposure to high levels of spice. He can see futures and learn about the addictive properties of spice in visions. The Bene Gesserit kept Jessica’s identity a secret from her, and Jessica is found to be the daughter of Baron Harkonnen. Paul and Jessica are captured by Fremen and taken to the Fremen community at Sietch Tabr. They teach the Bene Gesserit combat technique, the “weirding Way”, to them. Paul proves that he is a man and selects the Fremen name Muad’Dib. Jessica, however, chooses to be a Reverend Mother through a ritual in which she drinks the poisonous Water of Life. Leto’s pregnant with Leto’s child, Alia, accidentally causes her unborn child to be infected with the same powers. Paul marries Chani, a Fremen lover and they have a son, Leto II.
Paul’s prescience abilities are revealed after two years. The Fremen consider Paul their messiah due to Bene Gesserit’s Missionaria Protectiva. Paul is aware that the Fremen can be a formidable fighting force to retake Arrakis. However, he also recognizes the danger of their jihad consuming the entire universe if they are not controlled. The Emperor and Baron Harkonnen hear about the new Fremen leader as the Emperor’s spice production is affected by their destructive raids. The Baron encourages Glossu Rabban, his brutish nephew, to lead with an iron fist. He hopes that the contrast with Feyd-Rautha, his smarter nephew will make him popular with the Arrakis people when he replaces Rabban. The Emperor suspects the Baron of trying create more powerful troops than the Sardaukar in order to take power. He sends spy spies to track activity on Arrakis. Hawat seizes the opportunity to cast doubt on the Baron’s plans and puts further strain on their alliance.
Gurney Halleck, who survived the Harkonnen coup, has become a smuggler and reunites with Jessica and Paul after a Fremen raid against his harvester. Gurney believes Jessica is a traitor and threatens to kill them, but Paul stops him. Paul didn’t foresee Gurney’s attack and decides to increase his prescience by drinking Water of Life. This is fatal to males. Paul is unconscious for several weeks, then he awakens with clairvoyance. He is the Kwisatz Haderach. This is the ultimate goal of Bene Gesserit’s breeding program.
Paul sees that the Emperor and Baron have built fleets around Arrakis in an attempt to crush the Fremen rebellion. He prepares the Fremen for the Harkonnen army’s major offensive. The Baron and the Emperor arrive on Arrakis. Their combined troops capture a Fremen outpost, killing Leto II. Alia is taken to the Baron. She is determined and trusts her brother. An electric storm covers the Emperor’s troops, cutting them off. Paul and the Fremen, riding giant Sandworms, attack the capital. Alia escapes and assassinates Baron. Both the Sardaukar and Harkonnen troops are defeated quickly by the Fremen.
Paul confronts the Emperor and threatens to end spice production forever unless he abdicates his throne. Feyd-Rautha tries to stop Paul by challenging the Emperor to a ritualistic knifefight, during which he attempts cheat and kill Paul using a poison spur in to his belt. Paul wins and kills Feyd-Rautha. Paul reluctantly gives the Emperor the throne and promises Princess Irulan his hand in marriage. Paul becomes the Empire’s ruler and realizes that he can no longer stop the Fremen jihad. Their belief in him is too strong to resist.
- Paul Atreides is the Duke’s only son and the main character in the novel.
- Duke Leto Atreides is the head of House Atreides
- Lady Jessica, Bene Gesserit, concubine of Duke, mother to Alia and Paul,
- Alia Atreides, Paul’s younger sister
- Thufir Hawat and Mentat, Master of Assassins to House Atreides
- Gurney Halleck, the Atreides’ staunchly loyal troubadour fighter
- Duncan Idaho, Swordmaster at House Atreides, is a graduate of Ginaz School
- Wellington Yueh is a Suk doctor for Atreides and secretly works for House Harkonnen
- Head of House Harkonnen: Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
- Piter De Vries, twisted Mentat
- Feyd-Rautha is the nephew and heir-presumptive to the Baron
- Glossu “Beast”, also known as Rabban Harkonnen and older nephew to the Baron
- Iakin Nefud Captain of the Guard
- Shaddam IV, Padishah Emperor in the Known Universe (the Imperium).
- Princess Irulan, Shaddam’s oldest daughter and heir, is also a historian
- Count Hasimir Fenring is the Emperor’s close friend, advisor and “errand boy”.
- Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam is the Proctor Superior at a Bene Gesserit School and Emperor’s Truthsayer.
- Lady Margot Fenring (Bene Gesserit wife to Count Fenring)
- The Fremen are “native” inhabitants of Arrakis.
- Stilgar, Fremen Naib (chieftain), of Sietch Tabr
- Chani, Paul’s Fremen concubine, and a Sayyadina of Sietch Tabr (feminine acolyte).
- Dr. Liet-Kynes was the Imperial Planetologist on Arrakis, father of Chani and a beloved figure among the Fremen
- The Shadout Mapes is the head housekeeper at imperial residence in Arrakis
- Paul kills Jamis and Fremen in a ritual duel
- Harah, the wife of Jamis, and later servant to Paul
- Reverend Mother Ramallo is a religious leader in Sietch Tabr.
- Esmar Tuek was a powerful smuggler, and the father of Staban Tiek
- Staban Tuek is the son of Esmar and a powerful smuggler. He befriends and takes in Gurney Haleck and his surviving men following the attack on Atreides
Influences and themes
The Dune series has been a landmark in soft science fiction. Herbert intentionally suppressed technology in the Dune universe to address the politics and not the future of technology. Dune examines how humans and institutions may change over time. Director John Harrison, who adapt Dune to Syfy’s 2000 miniseries said that the novel is a universal reflection of the human condition and its moral dilemmas.
Many people refer to Dune science fiction. I never do. It is an epic tale in the classic storytelling tradition. A story of mythic and legend similar to the Morte d’Arthur, or any other messiah story. It’s just that it is set in the future. It is more relevant today than it was when Herbert wrote the story. In 1960s America was dominated by two superpowers. We live in a more feudalized, corporatized world today, more like Herbert’s universe of distinct families, power centers, and business interests. All interconnected and held together by the same commodity.
Dune is also a mixture of hard and soft science fiction. “The attention to ecology, anthropology, and psychic abilities are hard.” Hard elements include Arrakis’ ecology, suspensor technology and weapon systems. Soft elements include religion, psychology, culture, politics and physical training.
Herbert stated that Paul’s messiah figure was inspired from the Arthurian legend and that the scarcity on Arrakis of water was a metaphor both for oil and water, and for the overpopulation of the planet. Biographer and novelist Brian Herbert was his son.
Dune tells a modern-day tale of familiar myths. It is about a story in which great sandworms protect a valuable treasure of melange. This geriatric spice represents the finite oil resource. Arrakis is home to enormous, fierce worms, which look like dragons of lore. They have “great teeth” as well as a “bellows breath of cinnamon”. This is similar to the Beowulf myth about a fire dragon that guarded a treasure trove hidden under the cliffs at the ocean’s edge. Frank Herbert’s classic novel describes a desert made up of a huge ocean of sand with giant worms that dive into the deepest parts, the unrevealed realm of Shai-hulud. The crests of waves are resembled by a dune top, and there is extreme danger from the powerful sandstorms. Arrakis is said to be the place where life emanates from the Maker (Shaihulud), in the desert-sea. Earth’s life, too, is thought to have originated from the oceans. Frank Herbert used amazing metaphors and created parallels to show how present conditions could be extrapolated into world systems that seemed completely alien from the first glance. They are not that different from the systems we already know. And, they don’t look so alien to people who are familiar with them.
Every chapter of Dunes starts with an excerpt from the fictional writings Princess Irulan. These writings can be in the form of diary entries, historical commentary or philosophy. They set the tone and provide context, exposition and other details that will help you understand Herbert’s complicated fictional universe and themes. These epigraphs act as foreshadowing, and encourage the reader to continue reading to bridge the gap between the epigraph’s contents and the main narrative. Irulan describes a fictionalized Paul in epigraphs, as if he has already been absorbed into their memories. Brian Herbert wrote: “Dad said that you could follow any layer of the novel as you read it and then go back to the beginning, focusing on a different layer. He intentionally left some gaps at the end of his book. This was to get the readers to keep reading the story and want them to return to it.
References to the Middle East and Islam
Herbert’s work has had a Middle Eastern influence due to similarities in some of his terms and ideas with actual Arabic words and concepts. Herbert’s descriptions of Fremen culture and language use both Arabic-sounding and authentic Arabic words. One example is Shai-hulud which is the name for the sandworm. It is derived from shay’ khulud meaning ‘immortal thing’ or shaykh khulud meaning ‘old men of eternity’. The term for a device that raises water is shaduf. The Arabic words that refer to the messianic religion, which was first introduced by the Bene Gesserit are derived from Muad’Dib and Usul, Sharia, Shari-a. Shaitan and jinn. Herbert likely relied on second-hand resources like phrasebooks and desert adventures stories to find the Arabic words and phrases. They are meaningful and carefully selected and create an “imagined desert cultural that resonates with exotic sound, enigmas and pseudo-Islamic reference” and a distinct Bedouin aesthetic.
Dune is a language that uses Arabic words and names.
Paul Atreides is a foreigner who takes the role of a desert dweller and leads them in a military capacity. This reminds me a lot of the historical T. E. Lawrence. A potential influence has been also identified in his 1962 biopic Lawrence of Arabia. Lesley Blanch’s novel The Sabres of Paradise (1960), has been identified as a potential inspiration for Dune. Its depiction of Imam Shamil, and the Islamic culture of Caucasus, inspired some of the themes and characters of Dune.
The hydrocarbon environments in the Middle East were the main inspiration for the environment on Arrakis, a desert planet. Arrakis is also presented as a special kind of political site. Herbert made it look like a desertified area. The Bedouin tribes of Arabia influenced the Fremen people of Arrakis, and the Mahdi prophecy comes from Islamic eschatology.
Environmentalism and ecology
Dune was called the “first grand-scale planetary ecology novel”. Herbert said that he hoped the book would be viewed as an “environmental awareness guidebook”, and that the title was intended to “echo the sound o’ doom”. It was described in the 1968 counterculture Whole Earth Catalog as a “rich, re-readable fantasy that clearly portrays the intense environment required to cohere a group”.
In 1962, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring. Science fiction writers started to explore the topic of ecological change and its implications. Dune reacted in 1965 with complex descriptions of Arrakis’ life. It included giant sandworms, for whom water is dangerous, and smaller, mouse-like forms that can live with very limited water. Dune followed the creation of unique ecologies through science fiction books A Door into Ocean (1986), and Red Mars (92). Environmentalists point out that Dune’s popularity, which depicts a planet as complex and almost living, combined with the publication of the first images from space of Earth, has strongly influenced movements like the creation of the international Earth Day.
The Imperium in Duke includes features from various empires in Europe, the Near East, such as the Ottoman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire. Lorenzo DiTommaso has compared Dune’s depiction of the fall of a galactic Empire to Edward Gibbon’s Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire, which claims that Christianity was allied to the profligacy and corruption of the Roman elite leading to the fall of Ancient Rome. DiTommaso highlights the similarities between these two works in “The Articulation in Imperial Decadence, Decline in Epic Science Fiction” (2007). He focuses on the excesses and incompetence of the Emperor on Kaitain and the Baron Harkonnen at his palace. Excessive pomp and ceremony make the Emperor less effective as a ruler. His attendants and hairdressers who he takes to Arrakis with him are often called “parasites”. Similar to the Baron Harkonnen, he is also corrupt and materially extravagant. Gibbon’s Decline, Fall partially blames the fall Rome on the rise to Christianity. Gibbon claimed that the exotic import from a conquered region weakened Rome’s soldiers and made it vulnerable to attack. The Emperor’s Sardaukar warriors are no match for the Fremen. This is due to the Sardaukar’s insecurity and the fact that Jessica & Paul have trained them in battle tactics. But also because of the Fremen’s willingness to sacrifice their lives for others. The Fremen place the community above their own, while the rest of the world lives in luxury at the expense others.
The Empire’s decline and prolonged peace set the stage for revolution and renewal through genetic mixing of successful or unsuccessful groups through war. Frank Herbert described the Jihad as “war as an collective orgasm”, drawing on Norman Walter’s 1950 The Sexual Cycle of Human Warfare. These themes would return in God Emperor of Dune’s Scattering, and Leto II’s all-female Fish Speaker Army.
Dune has complex gender dynamics. The female Bene Gesserit orders administer the gom jabbar humanitarian test. It is rarely administered to males. Although the Bene Gesserit appear to have mastered the unconscious, and can exploit the unconscious weaknesses of others through the Voice, their breeding program is geared towards a male Kwisatz Häderach. They want to create a male with complete racial memories, male and female, and be able to look into the collective unconscious they fear. The book’s central theme is Jessica’s son’s connection of his female and male aspects. This aligns with concepts in Jungian psychology, which features conscious/unconscious and taking/giving roles associated with males and females, as well as the idea of the collective unconscious. Paul’s path to power requires that he be raised under the matriarchal Bene Gesserit. They operate as a shadow government and long-dominating behind all the great houses, their marriages, or divisions. Jessica teaches him the Bene Gesserit way, which involves pranabindu training in nerve control and muscle control. It also includes precise perception and prana-bindu training. Paul also undergoes Mentat training to prepare him for his role as a Kwisatz Haderach (a male Reverend Mother)
A Bene Gesserit Test is used to reveal that most people are “inhuman”, meaning they place their desire above self-interest and reason. Herbert’s belief that all humans are created equal is applied here. Equal justice and equal opportunity are better ideals than mental, moral, or physical equality.
I’m going to show you the superhero syndrome, and how you can get involved.
Paul’s rise as a superhuman follows a common plotline in many stories about the birth of a hero. Unfortunately, he is forced to deal with his circumstances. He overcomes the evil source in his story after a long period. Dune represents a trend in American science fiction that began in the 1960s. It features a character who achieves godlike status by using scientific methods. Paul Atreides eventually attains omniscience, which allows him to control the planet and the entire galaxy. This causes the Fremen to worship him as a god. Frank Herbert, the author of the Dune trilogy stated in 1979 that “The bottom line is to beware of heroes. It is better to rely on your judgment and own mistakes than to rely on others. In 1985, he wrote ” Dune” to address the whole idea of an infallible leader. My view of history shows that the number of people who follow a leader or make mistakes in his name are magnified by their own mistakes.”
Juan A. PrietoPablos claims Herbert has a new typology of superpowers. This distinguishes the heroes from Dune and earlier heroes like Superman, van Vogt’s Gilbert Gosseyn, Henry Kuttner’s telepaths. Paul’s powers are not like previous super heroes who acquired them suddenly or accidentally. And unlike the 1960s superheroes who are an exception in their worlds, Herbert’s characters gain their powers by “the application of magical philosophies and methods.” Herbert believes that anyone can learn incredible fighting skills (Fremen Ginaz swordsmen, Sardaukar, and Ginaz swordsmen) or mental abilities (Bene Gesserit (Mentats), Spacing Guild Navigators), even if they are an ordinary person.
Zen and religion
Two Jungian psychologists Ralph and Irene Slattery introduced Herbert to Zen early in his newspaper career. They “gave him a crucial boost to think”. Zen teachings had a “profound and ongoing influence on Herbert’s work”. Herbert uses concepts and forms from Zen Buddhism throughout the Dune series, and especially in Dune. Many of Herbert’s epigraphs have Zen-spirituality. Frank Herbert wrote the following:
I find it particularly pleasing to see interwoven themes and fugue-like relationships between images, which resemble Dune. Like an Escher lithograph I was involved with recurring themes that transform into paradox. The central paradox is the human vision of time. What about Paul’s gift for prescience-the Presbyterian fixation. The Delphic Oracle must be able to function within a predestination web. Predestination does not negate surprises. It creates a mathematically closed universe, whose limits are constantly inconsistent and always face the impossible. It’s like a Zen mind-breaker, a koan. It’s like Cretan Epimenides stating, “All Cretans lie.”
Brian Herbert described the Dune universe as “a spiritual melting pot”, pointing out that his father had incorporated elements from a variety religions such as Buddhism, Sufi mysticism, Judaism and Judaism. He said that Frank Herbert’s imagined future, in which “religious belief systems have combined into interesting forms”, is the author’s solution for eliminating disagreements between religions.
Tim O’Reilly suggests Herbert wrote Dune to counter Isaac Asimov’s foundation series. O’Reilly stated in his monograph about Frank Herbert that ” Dune was clearly a comment on the Foundation trilogy. Herbert looks at the same situation that inspired Asimov’s classic, the demise of a galactic empire. He then rewrites it using different assumptions and draws radically different conclusions. He has added a twist to Dune by claiming that his hero is the Mule and not the Foundation. Herbert bases the Bene Gesserit upon the Foundation’s scientific shamans, who use biological science rather than statistical science. Dune, contrary to the Foundation series that praises science and rationality and Foundation , proposes the unexpected and unconscious are what humanity needs.
Both works have a similar theme: the restoration of civilization. They also assume that political maneuvering, control of material resources, friendship, or mating bonds, will all be fundamentally the exact same in the future.
Dune was tied with Roger Zelazny’s This Inmortal to win the Hugo Award in 1966. It also won the Nebula Award as Best Novel. The novel has received positive reviews. Dune was considered the best science fiction book. Nearly 20 million copies have been sold. The novel has been translated in dozens of languages. Dune is regularly cited by readers as one of the best-selling science fiction novels in the world.
Arthur C. Clarke called Dune “unique” and wrote: “I know nothing comparable except Lord of the Rings.” Robert A. Heinlein called the novel “powerful, convincing, most ingenious.” The Chicago Tribune called it “one the monuments modern science fiction”, while P. Schuyler Miller described Dune as “one the landmarks modern science fiction… an incredible feat of creation.” The Washington Post called it “a complete portrayal of an alien civilization more detailed than any other author in this field has managed…a story that is equally absorbing for its action as well as philosophical vistas… A remarkable science fiction phenomenon.” Algis Budrys was impressed by Dune’s vivid imagination, stating that “The time lives.” It breathes, speaks, and Herbert can smell it in his lungs. The novel “turns flat and tails away at the end,” he said. … T]ruly effective villains simply melt; fierce men, cunning statesmen, and seeresses all bow before this new Messiah. Budrys criticized Herbert’s decision not to kill Paul’s infant child offstage. There was no obvious emotional impact. He said that “you can’t be so busy saving the world that you can’t hear an infant shriek”. In 1978, Carl Sagan criticized unrealistic science fiction and listed Dune among the stories that “are so tautly constructed, such rich in the accommodating details in an unfamiliar society that it sweeps me along before even I have a chance for criticism”.
The Louisville Times stated that Herbert’s creation of this universe with its complex development and analysis in ecology, religion, and politics remains one of science fiction’s most significant and pivotal achievements. Jon Michaud, writing for The New Yorker praises Herbert’s “clever autorial decision” not to include robots and computers in his universe. However, he suggests that this could be why Dune hasn’t gained the “true fandom” among science-fiction lovers to the extent that it has “not penetrated popular culture the same way that The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars did.” Tamara I. Hladik said that the story “crafts an universe where lesser novels propound excuses for sequels.” Its rich elements are balanced and plausible. Not the patchwork of contrived customs and made-up languages that is the hallmark of many lesser novels.
BBC News published Dune as one of its 100 most influential novels on November 5, 2019.
Manuscripts and prints from the first edition
The Dune first edition is one of the most sought-after in science fiction book collection. It has been sold at auction for over $10,000. Chilton’s first edition of the novel measures 9+4 inches (235mm) in height. The dust jacket lists $5.95 as the price, while the copyright page identifies Toronto as the Canadian publisher. Chilton was previously only publishing manuals for automobile repairs.
California State University, Fullerton’s Pollack Library contains several Herbert’s draft manuscripts for Dune, and other works. The author’s notes are also available in the Frank Herbert Archives.
Dune has been long considered an unfilmable work that could be adapted from novel to film or another visual medium. Wired describes it as “It has four apps and a glossary. It takes place on two worlds. One of these planets is a desert overrun with worms that are the size of runway runways. Many important people are killed or tried to kill one another, and they all have eight subplots. This difficult conversion has been attempted with varying degrees of success.
Early attempts to stall
Apjac International (APJ), headed by Arthur P. Jacobs, purchased the rights to film Dunes in 1971. Jacobs was too busy with other projects such as the sequel to Planet of the Apes. Dune was postponed for another year. Jacobs first choice for director was David Lean. However, he declined the offer. Charles Jarrott was also considered for the role of director. While the search for a director continued, work was underway on a script. Robert Greenhut, who was the producer that had lobbyed Jacobs for the film, handled the initial treatment. However, Rospo Pallenberg was approached and asked to write the script. Shooting was scheduled to start in 1974. Jacobs, however, died in 1973.
A French consortium headed by Jean-Paul Gibon bought the film rights from APJ in December 1974. Alejandro Jodorowsky was set to direct. Jodorowsky had planned to make the film as a 10-hour feature in 1975. His son Brontis Jodorowsky would play the role of Paul Atreides. Salvador Dali and Amanda Lear would also star. Orson Welles was to portray Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. Gloria Swanson, the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, will be playing the role of Lady Jessica. At first, it was proposed that the film would be scored with original music by Karlheinz stockhausen, Henry Cow and Magma. Later, Pink Floyd would provide the soundtrack. Jodorowsky established a Paris pre-production unit that included Chris Foss (a British artist who designed covers and illustrations for science fiction periodicals), Jean Giraud (Moebius), an illustrator from France who also wrote and drew content for Metal Hurlant, and H. R. Giger. Moebius started designing characters and creatures for the film. Foss was hired to design spaceships and hardware. Based on Moebius’ storyboards, Giger started designing Harkonnen Castle. The special effects department was headed by Dan O’Bannon.
Dali was chosen to play the role of Emperor. Later, Dali demanded $100,000 an hour. Jodorowsky granted his request. However, Dali’s part was to be filmed in just one hour. Jodorowsky also drafted plans to film other scenes with the Emperor to use a mechanical manequin to replace Dali. Giger claims that Dali was later invited to leave the film due to his pro-Franco statements. The financial backing ran out just as the script, storyboards and designs were complete. Frank Herbert went to Europe in 1976 and found that $2 million of the $9.5million budget had been used in pre-production. Jodorowsky’s script would produce a 14-hour movie. Herbert later said that it was “the size of a telephone book”. Herbert stated that Jodorowsky was open to taking creative liberties with the source material. However, Herbert claimed that they had a friendly relationship. Jodorowsky stated in 1985 that he considered the Dune story a myth and intended to adapt it. Although he was fond of Herbert’s work, Jodorowsky claimed that he did everything possible to remove the author and any input from the project. Jodorowsky was not happy about the experience. However, he stated that the Dune project had changed his life and some of his and Moebius’s The Incal ideas. After the production was abandoned, O’Bannon went to a psychiatric facility and worked on 13 scripts. The last one became Alien. The story of Jodorowsky’s unsuccessful attempt to adapt the script was documented in Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013).
Dino De Laurentiis purchased the rights from Gibon’s group in 1976. Herbert was commissioned by De Laurentiis to write a screenplay. The script Herbert submitted was 175 pages, which is nearly three hours of screentime. In 1979, De Laurentiis hired Ridley Scott as director. Rudy Wurlitzer wrote the screenplay, and H. R. Giger was retained from the Jodorowsky production. Scott and Giger had just finished working together on the film Alien after O’Bannon recommended them. Scott had in mind to split the novel into two films. After working on three drafts of his script using The Battle of Algiers, Scott moved on to direct Blade Runner (1982). He recalls that the pre-production process took a long time and would have taken even longer to complete the project.
After seven months, I quit Dune. Rudy Wurlitzer had already created a script that I thought was a good distillation of Frank Herbert’s. But Dune would require a lot of work, at least two and a quarter years. Frank, my older brother, died unexpectedly from cancer as I was working on the De Laurentiis photo. That freaked me out, frankly. I told Dino that the Dune script belonged to him.
–From Ridley Scott – The Making of his Movies – Paul M. Sammon
1984 film by David Lynch
The nine-year film rights expired in 1981. De Laurentiis negotiated new rights with the author and added to them the Dune sequels. Raffaella De Laurentiis, De Laurentiis’ daughter, decided that David Lynch should direct this movie after seeing The Elephant Man. Lynch was offered Return of the Jedi directing jobs. Lynch agreed to direct Dune, and also write the screenplay, even though he hadn’t read the book or been familiar with science fiction. Lynch spent six months working on the script with Eric Bergren, Christopher De Vore and Christopher De Vore. Before the script split due to creative differences, the team produced two drafts. Lynch would then work on five additional drafts.
Lynch directed the first film of Dune. It was released almost 20 years after publication. Although Herbert stated that the book’s symbolism and depth seemed to intimidate many filmmakers he was happy with the film and said that “They’ve got the movie.” It starts as Dune does. I can hear the dialogue through. You’ll be able to say that you have seen Dune. There are some interpretations. The film received mixed reviews. Some critics said it was difficult to understand for those not familiar with the book and that fans would be disappointed at the deviations from the plot.
John Harrison 2000 miniseries
John Harrison, who had previously adapted the novel to Frank Herbert’s Dune in 2000, created a miniseries that premiered on Sci-Fi Channel. The miniseries was rated number three on Sci-Fi Channel in 2004.
Additional film attempts
Paramount Pictures announced in 2008 that they would produce a film based on the book. Peter Berg was attached to direct. Kevin Misher, who had spent over a year trying to secure the rights from Herbert, was to be joined Richard Rubinstein (of Sci Fi Channel miniseries), and John Harrison (of Mike Messina and Sarah Aubrey). Producers stated they wanted a faithful adaptation of the novel and that it was timely because of its theme of finite environmental resources. As technical advisors, Kevin J. Anderson, a science fiction author, and Frank Herbert’s young son Brian Herbert were both attached to the project. They had written numerous Dune sequels, prequels, and sequels together since 1999. Berg resigned from the project in October 2009. He later stated that the project was not the right choice for him “for many reasons”. Paramount sought a director to direct the film at a cost of less than $175 million, reportedly using a script draft from Joshua Zetumer. Pierre Morel was hired to direct the film in 2010. Chase Palmer, the screenwriter, incorporated Morel’s vision into Zetumer’s original draft. Morel had left the project in November 2010. Paramount ended plans to remake the movie in November 2010.
Denis Villeneuve 2021 film
Legendary Entertainment purchased the rights to the TV and film rights for Dunes in November 2016. Variety reported December 2016 that Denis Villeneuve had been in negotiations to direct the project. This was confirmed in February 2017. Legendary revealed that Eric Roth would be writing the screenplay in April 2017. Villeneuve stated in March 2018 that Eric Roth’s adaptation would be split into two films. The first installment is scheduled to start production in 2019. The cast includes Timothee Chalamet playing Paul Atreides and Stellan Skartgard as Baron Harkonnen. Rebecca Ferguson plays Lady Jessica. Oscar Isaac plays Duke Leto Atreides. Zendaya plays Chani. Jason Momoa plays Duncan Idaho. David Dastmalchian is Piter De Vries. Chang Chen plays Dr. Yueh. Stephen Henderson portrays Thufir Hawat. Warner Bros. Pictures distributed and distributed the film. It was first shown at Venice Film Festival on September 3, 2021. The film was also streamed on HBO Max on October 21st, 2021. This was part of Warner Bros.’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Recorded Books Inc. published a 20-disc audiobook narrated and narrated in 1993. Audio Renaissance released an audiobook narrated and performed some parts by Scott Brick, Orlagh Cady, Euan Morton, as well as other performers, in 2007.
Dune is a widely-recognized author, inspiring many novels, music and movies, as well as television shows, comic books, and games. It is regarded as one of the most important science fiction novels ever written. Many modern science fiction works, such as Star Wars, are a result of Dune. Dune is also mentioned in many other popular culture works, such as Star Trek, Chronicles Of Riddick and The Kingkiller Chronicle. Dune was mentioned as a major inspiration for Hayao Mizaki’s animated film Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984).
Names of real world extraterrestrial sites have been given to elements in the novel and its sequels. Dune was parodied on 1984’s National Lampoon’s Doon by Ellis Weiner. William F. Touponce described it as “something of an tribute to Herbert’s successes on college campuses”, noting, “The only other book that has been so honored was Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings,” parodied by in 1969.
- French electronic musician Richard Pinhas released nine tracks on the Dune-inspired album Chonolyse in 1978. It includes seven Variations sur la theme des Bene Geserit.
- German electronic music pioneer Klaus Schulze released Dune in 1979. It featured motifs and lyrics that were inspired by the novel.
- Another similar musical project, Visions of Dune was also released in 1979 by Zed, a pseudonym of French electronic musician Bernard Sjazner.
- Iron Maiden, a heavy metal band, wrote “To Tame a Land” based upon the Dune tale. It is the closing track of their 1983 album Slice of Mind. Original title was “Dune”, but Frank Herbert’s agents denied permission to use the name. They stated that Frank Herbert “doesn’t like heavy rock bands and particularly bands like Iron Maiden.”
- Dune was the inspiration for the German hardcore band Dune. They have released many albums featuring space-travel-themed songs.
- Shai Hulud, a progressive hardcore rock band, took their name from Dunes.
- “Traveller in Time” is from the 1991 Blind Guardian album Tales from the Twilight World. It’s based largely on Paul Atreides visions of the future and the past.
- The 1993 Fear Factory album Fear Is The Mindkiller. The record’s title is Litany against Fear, which is a fictional incantation by Dune, a science fiction novel written and published by Frank Herbert.
- The Matthew Good album Avalanche song “Near Fantastica” refers to “litany against Fear”, repeating “can’t feel fear, fear’s the mind killer” in a section.
- The Fatboy Slim song “Weapon of Choice” contains the line “If your walk is not rhythm/You won’t attract the worm”. This is an almost exact quotation of the section of the novel where Stilgar teaches Paul how to ride sandworms.
- Dune was also the inspiration for the 1999 album The 2nd Moon, which is a concept record about the series.
- Dune was a major influence on Thirty Seconds to Mars’ self-titled debut album.
- The Youngblood Brass Band’s song “Is an Elegy” is available on Level:Roar. It contains references to “Muad’Dib”, and “Arrakis” as well as other elements of the novel.
- Canadian musician Grimes’ debut album, Geidi Primers is a concept album that was based on Dunes.
- Sleep’s 2018 album The Science includes a song called Giza Butler that refers to several aspects of Dunes.
- Tool’s 2019 album Fear Inoculum contains a song titled “Litanie contre le peur (Litany against Fear)”.
- “Rare To Wake” is a song from Shannon Lay’s album Spirit (2019). It was inspired by Due.
- Diamond Head, a heavy metal band, based “The Sleeper” (and its prelude) on the series.
A number of games have been inspired by the book, beginning with the strategy-adventure Dune (1992). Dune II (1992) is the most significant game adaptation. It established the rules for modern real-time strategy games, and is widely considered to be one of the most influential videogames ever made.
Lost Souls is an online game that includes Dune-derived components, such as sandworms or melange–addictions to which you can develop psychic talents. The 2016 game Enter to the Gungeon includes the spice melange, which is a random item that gives players progressively stronger abilities and penalties for repeated use. This mirrors the long-term effects of melange on users.
Rick Priestley mentions Dune in his 1987 wargame Warhammer 40000.
The Apollo 15 astronauts named an Earth’s Moon crater after the novel. This name was officially adopted by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 1973. The names of planets taken from the Dune novels were adopted in 2009 for the real-world nomenclature on the plains of Saturn’s moon Titan.
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