Dune is one of the most important pieces of literature for the Sci-Fi genre. I’ve been raking my brain for hours on how to properly explain the importance of Dune in the sci-fi literature but you know what? I dune (hehehe) think it’s necessary for me to do so. If you truly wanna know why, you can search it on whatever search engine you use and you'll find hundreds of articles or reviews on why this book is that important; and they’ll do a much better job than me. I won’t even deny any of them because, in my opinion, this book was truly revolutionary. Dune didn’t become the number one highest selling Sci-fi novel of all time for no reason; like Brian Herbert said, it is to Sci-Fi, what the LOTR trilogy is to fantasy.
Theoretically, if I’m reviewing this by putting my head as someone from 1960’s or 1970’s, I know I would think of this book as my bible. 1965 was the year when Dune was published for the first time, 24 years before I was born. There are just too many groundbreaking ideas, world-building, that would become the inspirations for many Sci-fi in our time; I only realized this after reading this book. I mean, the gigantic Sandworm alone has inspired many video games to use it as a common monster or enemy.
Picture: Dune by Marc Simonetti
Desert planet, Stillsuits, space exploration, and Zen Buddhism, Dune was truly a groundbreaking novel, almost everything in this book somehow seems prophetic because it has predicted our current society, especially when it comes to faith, emotional control, empathy, and the importance of ecology and scarcity.
“The mind commands the body and it obeys. The mind orders itself and meets resistance.”
Part of what made this book was great for me was Herbert’s prose. I haven’t read enough classic to claim it was classical, but Herbert’s prose was definitely unique to me. It has a lot of freedom by writing it from a limited omniscient narrative; changing POV’s repeatedly in a single chapter without any warning. This is, honestly, one of my biggest pet peeves in my usual read, but Herbert made it work because all his characters were really well written, distinct in their personality, and the dialogues are really well dune (HEHEHE). Plus, there are so many motivational and extremely philosophical quotes that seem to make this book a combination of Sci-Fi & self-help book, such as:
“It is so shocking to find out how many people do not believe that they can learn, and how many more believe learning to be difficult.”
And of course, the most famous and one of the best quote I’ve ever read out of any book
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
I can’t believe I have gone through life without knowing about this litany against fear. It’s applicable in any kind of hardship we faced in real life, and I know it will be one of my motto starting from now. If I’m judging this book solely from how significant this book was, I’ll give it maximum score in a heartbeat. However, I’m reviewing this based on one question and how I rated all the books I read: was it enjoyable?
The answer is yes and no, it was a mixed bag. The first part of this book was incredible, I couldn’t put down the book and everything was so interesting and compelling. Then comes the second part, where the pacing just became really draggy and somehow, boring. However, my hope was restored for a while during the third act, until the anti-climax happened. My expectation is obviously at fault here but hey, this book is the number one highest selling sci-fi book of all time and one of the most highly acclaimed book, I expected there to be a mind-blowing climax sequences to close the book in an epic way. But no, there wasn’t any. Not only it felt anti-climactic, Herbert’s prose in describing settings and actions didn’t age well or up to current standard. The main reason for this is that this is a book that relies heavily on character’s dialogues to do everything; world-building, plot, characterizations were done solely through dialogues. This leads to the great plot but weak action sequences and no vivid settings. Sure there was some explanation on the settings, but other than the planet—which is just a desert, just search Sahara or Planet Tatooine and voila—the interiors were given only brief description, which makes it hard to imagine; I had to look up some artworks to be able to immerse myself in the settings of the book.
Overall, Dune was truly a revolutionary book for its time that is filled with tons of imaginative and fantastic ideas. Although there were some parts that disappointed me, I still liked the book and I finally understand why there are so much discussion and praises around this book. I recommend this to every Sci-fi fans for its importance and also, it’s good to know where most fantastic Sci-Fi you’ve read or you’re reading now got its idea from. However, this is also where I’ll stop with the series.