Dune Revisited: Introduction

Regardless of all the opinions, Dune, Frank Herbert’s best-known novel, is a masterpiece of classic science fiction. It is to science fiction what the Lord of the Rings is to fantasy – the book that everyone knows, the one that created genre conventions that have been followed for years.

I don’t remember when I first read Dune, but it was probably sometime between the ages of 14 and 16. I also don’t know how many times I’ve read it since — at least 3, likely more.

Now I’m going to read it again, but this time with the intention of blogging about it afterwards. Every time we read anything we see through our own particular set of filters. By dint of our educational backgrounds and our personal backgrounds, we have certain perspectives that color the things we read. Most of them are subtle and we don’t even notice, but others, ones that often come from education or extra-vivid personal experiences, we’re more aware of.

I always enjoy looking at the language itself in a novel. What words the author uses and how she or he uses them. Are there made up words? How distinctive are the different characters’ voices? I’ve studied linguistics and I also enjoy writing, so this is really two different filters at once.

I like anthropology and sociology, so I think a lot about the cultures presented in a novel. Do they make sense? (Hopefully, otherwise the novel has some serious problems.) What are the unexpected aspects of the culture that the author explores? How does the author clue readers into the aspects of the culture that are different than the readers’ own?

Finally, I am a feminist, so I like to examine the role of women in a story. This is tied in with the first two, language and culture. What role do they play in the culture at large as well as in the plot specifically? How does the author’s language use portray women?

These things are always at least in the back of my mind whenever I read, but this time I’m going to make the attempt to consider them a bit more actively so that I can articulate my thoughts when I’m finished reading. I think it’ll be a nice change of pace from my usual more passive ingestion of stories.

I’ve been a bit misleading. I am going to reread Dune, but since I’ve read it so many times, and haven’t read the rest of the series nearly as much, I’m going to read the entire series in chronological order. This is probably rather controversial among Dune fans, many of whom think that the Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson books aren’t nearly as good as the original six that Frank Herbert wrote. But in order to have that opinion they have to have read them (at least we can hope) and I don’t have an opinion on this because I’m not positive I’ve read any of them, and if I have, it was only one or two, and it was many years ago.

So I’ll be starting soon with “Hunting Harkonnens” (a short story) and The Butlerian Jihad, which takes place 10,000 years before the events of Dune. I’m looking forward to the adventure.

The List:
“Dune: Hunting Harkonnens”
Dune: The Butlerian Jihad
“Dune: Whipping Mek”
Dune: The Machine Crusade
“Dune: The Faces of a Martyr”
Dune: The Battle of Corrin
Sisterhood of Dune
Dune: House Atreides
Dune: House Harkonnen
Dune: House Corrino
Paul of Dune (Parts II, IV & VI)
The Winds of Dune (Part II)
“Dune: A Whisper of Caladan Seas”
Dune
Paul of Dune (Parts I, III, V & VII)
The Winds of Dune (Part IV)
“The Road to Dune”
Dune Messiah
The Winds of Dune (Parts I, III, & V)
The Throne of Dune
Children of Dune
Leto of Dune
God Emperor of Dune
Heretics of Dune
“Dune: Sea Child”
Chapterhouse: Dune
Hunters of Dune
“Dune: Treasure in the Sand”
Sandworms of Dune

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