Tell me of your home, Usul!

Dune (Dune, #1)
by Frank Herbert

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My third (?) re-read, I think, in anticipation of the new movie. I got the pretty deluxe edition for the occasion. I skimmed through the introduction by Brian Herbert and might get back to it, the bits that I did read where not uninteresting. 

The first quote of Princess Irulan‘s writings, on the first page of the actual story, immediately gave me goosebumps and took me straight to the beginning of the David Lynch movie and the sequence introducing Arrakis. Find and watch the trailer!

I payed close attention to the quotations above each chapter. I also took much stronger note of the religious undertones of the book and the frequent use of Arabic words. My hardback edition has an extensive annex with a chapter on Dune‘s religious system, that gave context and opened my eyes to the different influences.

I am amazed at the things I picked up this time around, that I had never noticed before. Lady Jessica‘s musings about her genealogy. Paul‘s Mentat training and abilities. I have absolutely no recollection of the conservatory. Or that they use ornithopters to get around. 

Guerney Halleck was a lot more interesting to me than before, as well as Thufir Hawat. I plan to continue reading the series this time and I am looking forward to Alia‘s development and how Jessica‘s story will progress.

The implications of the Butlerian Jihad pretty much passed me by during my previous reads as well. Technological advances are by necessity quite imaginative and different from the expected. 

Another great chapter in this annex expands on the ecology of Arrakis and the impact of Kynes‘s father on the Fremen.

Pain points of this novel:
The book passes the Bechdel test, but women generally are concubines, submissive wives, a second row of characters. The only women with power are seen as witches, in the negative sense of the word. 
Baron Harkonnen is the only openly gay character and is a really repugnant piece for work. And Peter de Vries gets a derogatory description of being effeminate.
I think we can assume that Herbert was very much a conservative, white male, firmly on one end of the Kinsey scale and the rest didn‘t exist as real options.

Review from my 2005 re-read:

I read this book about 20 years ago and wanted to read it again, to re-freshen my memory of it. 

When I read this as a teenager, I found it a bit hard to understand, a bit tedious and not all that thrilling. For some reason I did read the next two in the series anyway. It was, after all, a fascinating setting – a desert planet, giant worms, a messiah, mysterious desert dwellers, space travel…..

I came to really like the David Lynch movie. Recently I watched the new miniseries and that awakend my interest again.

And this time around I liked the book a lot. It kept my interest the whole book through. The characters were well developed, the Fremen were mysterious, the bad guys were really bad and the development of Paul Atreides from young boy to jaded prophet is well done. The only draw-back: Scenes of the Dune movie kept intruding into my imagination.