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To reread, or not to reread: Dune

I read Dune many years ago, when I was in my teens, and I didn’t care for the book. I never moved on to other books in the series. But... As a rule, I find that books are better than movies in almost every case, so when I finally got around to watching Dune just a few weeks ago, as it was making its round of newfound popularity the question came up, to my mind: Should I just enjoy the movie and accept I didn’t like the book, or should I return to the book?

Sandworms of Dune

Liking and disliking something can be separated from the quality of the writing. I don’t like all 1001 Arabian nights, but I am very glad I have read them. Some things are just too culturally influential to not read.

Dune might be among them. Dune is often credited with expanding the scope and ambition of science fiction. We forget that genres evolve and Dune is getting to be late middle age by science fiction standard. (1965) Its detailed world-building, complex political and religious themes, and deep ecological insights set a new standard for the genre. The novel's intricate plot and rich backstory influenced countless other works in science fiction literature and beyond.

Herbert created an incredibly detailed and immersive universe. The planet Arrakis, with its harsh desert environment, complex ecosystems, and unique cultural practices, serves as a vivid and intricate backdrop. This level of world-building set a new standard in science fiction, inspiring authors to develop richly detailed settings and complex societies.

Dune delved into intricate political and social themes, exploring power dynamics, feudalism, and the intersection of politics, religion, and economy. The novel’s portrayal of the power struggles between noble houses, the manipulative Bene Gesserit sisterhood, and the imperial ambitions provides a deep and nuanced narrative that goes beyond the typical good-versus-evil trope.

One of the novel’s most innovative aspects is its focus on ecology and the environment. A very modern idea relative to when the book was written. Herbert's depiction of Arrakis’ delicate desert ecosystem and the importance of the spice Melange not only drives the plot but also introduces readers to ecological concepts and the idea of planetary ecology. This emphasis on environmental stewardship was ahead of its time.

Dune also incorporates rich cultural and religious elements, borrowing from various traditions and mythologies to create a believable and engaging universe. The Fremen's way of life, their beliefs, and their messianic expectations are integral to the story, offering insights into how culture and religion can shape societies and influence historical events.

The impact of Dune extends beyond literature into film, television, and other media. Its themes and concepts have influenced numerous works, including Star Wars.

So, is it time?

(Spoiler warning.)  I do love good guys who don’t turn out to be so good in the end. I think Dune will be hitting my reading shelf again.

As a broader question do books deserve a second chance? I say yes. We change through life, and while the book may be the same, what we take way from it can change. Don’t discount good writing, just because you didn’t like it once.

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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Same here. I liked Dune, but preferring light-hearted material at that time, I stopped reading after the 3rd. Maybe I should give it another chance.

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