Review: Dune by Frank Herbert
I just reread Dune, after a half century or more. Naturally I didn’t remember much, though a few items like the gom jabbar test had stuck. Herbert created an interestingly different world in Arrakis, the desert planet that was the only source of the crucial spice that conferred both long life and certain psychic powers.
Our aristocratic hero, Paul Atreides, is plunged into a world of conspiracy and assassination from the start. I, as an ancient, probably feel significantly more cognitive dissonance about a world where people still fight with swords and knives despite the fact that interstellar travel has been mastered. Their quaint efforts at breeding better humans also have a comically antediluvian quality.
Villains are caricatures of villainy and the mentats, supposed deep thinkers, are more than a bit slow on the uptake.
So far as I can tell, the native desert dwellers of Arrakis, the Fremen, are loosely based on Bedouin desert nomads of our own planet. They have a somewhat interesting culture.
Perhaps the most interesting characters in Dune are the giant sandworms, which mostly travel underground, Tremors style, and grow to the size of a battle cruiser despite a diet consisting mainly of mining machines and mice. The Fremen have learned to ride them.
Long, and occasionally slow, but a not too bad example of the golden age of space opera.
Now in a major movie. Haven’t seen it.