Science Fiction will always hold a near and dear place in my heart. I think it’s a shame that this genre doesn’t get the recognition it deserves in literary circles. There are many works of Sci-Fi that are thoughtful and whose sole purpose is to make the reader consider humanity’s role in the universe. My life and my way of thinking have been irreversibly shaped by Science Fiction. So, naturally, I had some high expectations when I picked up Dune, one of the best-selling pieces of Science Fiction ever written.
I have to admit, when I first started reading this book, I wasn’t enjoying it. To me, it blurred the line between Science Fiction and Fantasy.
I don’t know what it is about Fantasy. When I first began reading books, Fantasy was my wheelhub. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost my taste for the fantastic. Even in the midst of the wild success of Game of Thrones, my interest in Fantasy is as tepid as ever. Even though Dune is a Science-Fiction novel, it has many influences from Fantasy. Frank Herbert built an entire world complete with its own language and culture. I was immersed in this world and didn’t want to be bothered with learning about it. There were too many ridiculous made-up names and places that were difficult to keep track of. Even when I was three-quarters through the book, there were characters that I kept confusing with one another because their names were stupid and made up.
Despite my distaste for Dune’s Fantasy influence, I came to enjoy reading it. Very early in the book, I realized that Dune was a book that was going to make me think. On the fifth page of book, I ran into a quote that really resonated with me:
“Animal consciousness does not extend beyond the given moment nor the idea that its victims may become extinct. The animal destroys and does not produce. Animal pleasures remain close to sensation levels and avoids the perceptual. The human requires a background grid through which to see his universe. Focused consciousness by choice, this forms your grid. Bodily integrity follows nerve-blood flow according to the deepest awareness of cell needs. All things/cells/beings are impermanent. Strive for flow-permanence within.”
This passage stuck with me because it so eloquently summarized a personal belief of mine- that our animal impulses are destructive and that the only way to avoid extinction as a species is the power of focused conscious thought.
And as I kept reading, I came to enjoy learning about the world of Arrakis. Frank Herbert did an amazing job of making the reader want more. There was a unique blend of dramatic irony and genuine mystery, which kept me guessing in the best of ways. The culture of the Fremen was fascinating and rooted in logic. Because Arrakis is a desert planet, water is held sacred by the natives. This detail in the novel also connects to one of my favorite books, Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, where water is held in a similar elevated position.
There was only one thing I didn’t like about Dune after I finished reading was that I felt it didn’t end on a very conclusive note. I suppose everything was wrapped up, but I didn’t feel satisfied when I read the final line. But, I guess that’s because Dune is the first part in a massive series of books, so the ending of the first book is really meant to lead the reader into the rest of the series.
Overall, Dune was an amazing read and I’d recommend it to anybody who is looking for an exciting read that will entertain and inspire thought. Go ahead and get it off of Amazon here.