Posted by: Ele Quigan | March 21, 2014

Dune and Dune Messiah – Frank Herbert

After another voyage through slightly depressing, award shortlisted fiction (see previous review), I decided to journey back to my roots. Rather than Vampire associated fiction, across the universe to Sci-Fi, one of my favourite novels growing up – Dune.

I’m not sure why it had been so long since I’d picked it up, I’d read all of the recreated prequels, but never gone back to the first one. I remember even trying the next one (Dune Messiah) but found it much more boring, which I guess makes sense – it’s more political and intrigue based, nuances of which I think went over my head all those years ago.

I’d read most of it on a flight to Sweden, heading to a music festival, making for a slightly bizarre experience. The first night of Sonar, I came across a girl with the brightest, bluest eyes I’d ever seen. “Fremen” was my first thought. “Spice Melange” the next.

Wandering around the various rooms later that night, the same thoughts kept surrounding my head, like I’d weirdly managed to blur the facets of fiction and real life, looking for Alia & Paul Atredies in people and behaviours.

Dune felt fresh, much more nuanced than I remember, more epic and more subtle. Sure in some ways it does feel slightly dated, but that doesn’t take away from it, more I guess like you’d look at an old but loved movie (I’m looking at you Labyrinth).

What did I take from it? More concern about management of Earth’s finite resources. We are overfishing, using too much oil, and polluting the planet more and more each year.

Actually the other thing I took from it was CHOAM or Combine Honnete Ober Advancer Mercantiles, which is a company managing most interplanetary exports, most importantly The Spice. I’m not sure if Frank Herbet envisaged a future which is more a Plutocracy than anything else, however it’s seemingly insightful on that point. Worried about the single control of a finite resource, of course it becomes part of a much bigger issue, causing wars, strife within the population, and within those who have it in reach, wealth beyond wildest dreams.

There’s also the drug side of The Spice – I guess it can almost be compared in a sense to Soma – the hallucinogenic drug from “Brave New World”. Everything comes at a price, with Spice phenomenally addictive, effecting prescience, features, the whole world around.

It’s worth a reread if you haven’t picked it up for a while, and I’m definitely going to persevere through the rest of the series.

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