Dune, Now and Then

Science Fiction fans around the world—myself included—were excited to see the first trailer for the new Dune film last week. (see below)Although I enjoyed the first cinematic interpretation of Frank Herbert’s interstellar saga, like many I found David Lynch’s version lacking in many ways. So, I’m hopeful that the new movie will get it right this time.

As a life-long sci-fi geek, I discovered the original Dune novels early and actually read most of the Frank Herbert series including three of the five sequels. I only recently found out that Herbert originally published Dune in a serialized format in Analog magazine over 9 issues in 1963 because he was unable to sell the novel to any publisher. In fact, he was rejected by at least 23 publishers before Chilton, which was better known for publishing auto repair manuals than novels, picked up the book. Quite surprising since Dune went on to win both the Hugo and Nebula awards.

If you are not familiar with the Dune saga, the story is set in the distant future amidst a feudal interstellar society in which various noble houses control planetary fiefs, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides, whose family accepts the stewardship of the planet Arrakis. While the planet is an inhospitable and sparsely populated desert wasteland, it is the only source of melange, or “the spice”, a drug that extends life and enhances mental abilities. Melange is also necessary for space navigation, which requires a kind of multidimensional awareness and foresight that only the drug provides. As melange can only be produced on Arrakis, control of the planet is thus a coveted and dangerous undertaking. The story explores the multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion, as the factions of the empire confront each other in a struggle for the control of Arrakis and its spice.



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